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Introduction To San Diego Opera Live
Thursday, January 19, 2012
This season, for the first time since 1998, San Diego Opera will be partnering with KPBS-FM to bring you live broadcasts from the opening night performances of each of our four productions: "Salome" on January 28th, "Moby-Dick" on February 18th, "Don Pasquale" on March 10th and "The Barber of Seville" on April 21st.
All operas are on Saturday evenings and all will be broadcast at 7 p.m., with yours truly as your live radio host. Since these broadcasts will carried to you directly from the actual performance at the Civic Theatre, you’ll feel all the excitement occurring onstage amongst the performers, the orchestra and the stage crew as well as in the audience as they anticipate and experience international opera on a grand scale.
San Diego Opera Presents 'Salome'
Salome’s disturbing obsession with John the Baptist drives her to make a shocking request: the head of the Prophet as a reward for performing the sensuous Dance of the Seven Veils. Based on Oscar Wilde’s dramatic adaptation of the biblical story of Salome and her lecherous stepfather, the dysfunctional and dangerous court of King Herod is brought to searing life through Richard Strauss’ seductive music. This chillingly erotic story still has the power to shock audiences more than 100 years after its premiere. Salome, lost in her own world of wantonness and sensuality, will be sung by last season’s brilliant Turandot, Lise Lindstrom, with Greer Grimsley as the noble John the Baptist. Allan Glassman and debut artist, soprano Irina Mishura, round out the cast in this stunning opener to our 2012 International Season!
The operas are a mixture of old and new. "Salome" (1905) hasn’t been staged by our company since that 1998 season and it’s a welcome return! Based on the short biblical tale of Herod, his step-daughter Salome and the prophet John the Baptist (as told through the unique prism of Oscar Wilde’s play), I consider this opera a culmination of the ‘horror’ tradition in this wonderful art form, usually seen through Italian eyes: Donizetti’s "Lucia di Lammermoor" or Verdi’s "Rigoletto."
These are operas with shocking plots with characters skulking about in the dark, haunted by their individual demons with, more often than not, a lovely Hitchcockian ‘twist’ at the end.
San Diego Opera Presents 'Moby-Dick'
This world premiere is based on Herman Melville’s 19th century literary masterpiece, "Moby-Dick," exploring the lethal power of obsession and the need for human connection and understanding in an increasingly multicultural world; one filled with mysterious encounters, exotic characters and one man’s quest for a white whale that leaves death and destruction in its wake. The actions of this large and emotionally irresistible work are played out against a multimedia-enriched staging that ranges from striking to near miraculous. Using dazzling computer-generated effects, the visual impact of "Moby-Dick" pulls you into the action from the first chord of the achingly beautiful music. The towering role of Ahab is sung by one of the world’s leading dramatic tenors Ben Heppner who created the role in Dallas, Jonathan Boyd is Greenhorn and Starbuck is Morgan Smith. Directed by Leonard Foglia with huge nautical sets designed by Robert Brill, Jake Heggie’s monumental composition and Gene Scheer’s libretto is a vibrant piece of compelling musical theater.
Jake Heggie (composer) and Gene Scheer (librettist) have composed a stunning opera based on Herman Melville’s "Moby-Dick," and this is our newest repertoire item, having been premiered in 2010. I attended a performance of that first production in Dallas and I must say that I haven’t been as bowled over by an opera premiere before or since.
It’s a brilliant production enhanced by state-of-the-art video projections that give you the feel of being on the whaling ship Pequod in the middle of the South Pacific. And the music is accessible, redolent of the open sea, extraordinarily tuneful and, at times, overwhelming. This is an opera not to be missed.
San Diego Opera Presents 'Don Pasquale'
The doddering old fool Pasquale is tricked into thinking he has married the sweet, demure and innocent convent-raised Sofronia. But she’s really Norina, in love with Pasquale’s nephew whom he is trying to disinherit. Once “married,” she becomes a gun-toting shrew who shows Pasquale that he was definitely better off without a wife. It’s San Diego Opera’s cheeky look at "Don Pasquale" in the Wild West, complete with a hero who enjoys a bubbly bath surrounded by beautiful bar girls, a Mariachi band and an old fool who wants to marry a much younger woman. John Del Carlo as Pasquale is dominated by the beautiful and sexy Norina of Danielle de Niese, with handsome Charles Castronovo as Ernesto and Jeff Mattsey as the scheming Doctor. The joyful music of Donizetti bubbles and laughs under the baton of Marco Guidarini, and stage director David Gately saddles up his San Diego Opera production that will make you laugh your spurs off!
Gaetano Donizetti’s "Don Pasquale" (1843) returns after a lengthy hiatus in the terribly funny ‘Wild, Wild, West’ production of stage director David Gately. The story follows the tribulations of the old Pasquale who wishes to marry a young, beautiful bride, and the attempt of his doctor, Malatesta, to get Pasquale’s nephew Ernesto and his lover Norina together in marriage.
The plot revolves around Norina’s ability to pass herself off as the ‘young, beautiful bride’-to-be. No sooner has the ink dried on the (fake) marriage certificate, she turns into Pasquale’s worst nightmare: a shrew of the highest order! The jaunty score perfectly matches this tongue-in-cheek comic gem.
San Diego Opera Presents 'The Barber Of Seville'
He’s Seville’s “King of Lather and Foam”…and master of a few other tricks as well! Barber by day, matchmaker by night, Figaro puts his wiles to work as he aids the Count in wooing the beautiful Rosina. This riotous musical comedy is one of the most popular in the operatic repertoire. It’s a visual and musical feast featuring Lucas Meachem as the conniving Figaro, Silvia Tro Santafé as the delectable Rosina, conductor Antonello Allemandi finding every note of Rossini’s happy score and Herbert Kellner directing this hilarious production.
And speaking of comic gems, our season ends with Giacchino Rossini’s "The Barber of Seville" (1816) based on the masterful play by Beaumarchais. Count Almaviva has fallen in love with Rosina from afar, but is blocked in his intentions by the girl’s protector, Dr. Bartolo, who won’t let her out of the house and won’t let anyone near her.
In typical opera buffa style, Almaviva’s servant, the barber Figaro, thrusts the plot forward to try and get the two young lovers together against all odds. Even after nearly 200 years, this opera is still one of the most uproarious musical comedies to stride the stage!
So join me for this fantastic season, won’t you? KPBS-FM will bring you close to the action and I’ll be there with stories, anecdotes and excerpts of interviews from principal artists in the productions. Enjoy San Diego Opera Live! beginning Saturday, January 28th at 7 p.m. I’ll see you at the opera!
San Diego Opera Live will be heard on KPBS 89.5FM, 89.1FM in La Jolla and 97.7 in Imperial Valley or online at kpbs.org. San Diego Opera will also live tweet in real time at San Diego Opera’s twitter feed @_SanDiegoOpera using hashtag #sdolive.
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