In Quest of Donizetti – A 2009-10 Update

In September 2007, this website launched an examination of the current state of the “Donizetti Revival”.  (That month was the fiftieth anniversary of Leyla Gencer’s first bel canto role, the title role of Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” at San Francisco Opera, and it was Gencer whose career was most closely associated with the “Donizetti Revival” term.)

We began a series of visits to opera companies in various cities, that included Paris, Zurich, Houston, Dallas, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and San Diego, that was chronicled in the posts In Quest of Donizetti – A 2007-08 Itinerary and In Quest of Donizetti – A 2008-09 Itinerary.

We updated our information on the Donizetti Revival in the United States in the post In Quest of Donizetti – A Fall 2008 Update that cover performances in the United States through Summer 2009).

For 2009-2010, many of the larger American opera companies (including Santa Fe Opera during its 2009 Summer season) will  mount one of Donizetti’s three most often performed comic operas, with the dramatic opera, “Lucia di Lammermoor” playing only in Florida and “Roberto Devereux” at Minnesota Opera.  For the rest of the U. S., the opera companies intend for Donizetti’s music to leave their audiences laughing.

But the darker Donizetti won’t be missing from North America for too long.  The Dallas production of the dramatic “Maria Stuarda” travels to Toronto in May, 2010.  One suspects that “Anna Bolena”, Dallas’ final new production in Donizetti’s “Tudor Trilogy”, is on the drawing boards for the not too distant future, as is “Stuarda” and “Bolena” in Minnesota. The Donizetti Revival of these somewhat less familiar works will be back in 2010-11 and beyond.

L’Elisir d’Amore (Donizetti), Los Angeles Opera, September 12, 15, 20, 22, 25, 27(m) and 30, 2009.

The opening night and first production of the 2009-2010 Los Angeles Opera stars Giuseppe Filianoti (Nemorino) and Nino Machaidze (Adina), the latter in her Los Angeles Opera debut, as is the Dulcamara, Ruggero Raimondi. Nathan Gunn struts his stuff as Sergeant Belcore.

[Below: promotional image from Los Angeles Opera.]

James Conlon conducts. The production is a revival of the 1996 production by Stephen Lawless with sets by Johan Engels, not seen in Los Angeles for a decade.

For a review of the performance, see: Los Angeles Opera’s Magic Potion: Nino Machaidze in “L’Elisir d’Amore” – September 12, 2009.

La Fille du Regiment (Donizetti), San Francisco Opera, October 13, 16, 19, 22, 25(m), 28 and 31, 2009.

Juan Diego Florez’ debut at San Francisco was Don Ramiro in Rossini’s “La Cenerentola” in Summer, 2003, but the superstar’s San Francisco fans have had to wait over half a decade for his second role here. His return is the occasion for auspicious San Francisco debuts.

Soprano Diana Damrau will be the Daughter of the Regiment. Also debuting is producer/costume designer Laurent Pelly, who designed this production for the Metropolitan Opera (where it will return in February with the same starring couple).

Andriy Yurkevych conducts. The sets are by Chantal Thomas and the lighting design by Joel Adam.

[Below: Juan Diego Florez is Tonio; edited image of photograph from Metropolitan Opera.]

Bruno Pratico is the Sergeant Sulpice, repeating a role that we reviewed when he performed at Houston Grand Opera in Fall 2007. Meredith Arwady (San Francisco Opera debut) is the Marquise, Sheila Nadler is the Duchesse, Jake Gardner the Hortensius.

For a review of the performance, see: Debuting Diana Damrau Delights as Donizetti Diva: San Francisco “Fille du Regiment” – October 13, 2009.

For a review of Florez’ Lindoro in Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri, see: The Italian Girl in D.C. – May 18, 2006.)

L’Elisir d’Amore (Donizetti), Houston Grand Opera, October 23, 25(m), 28, November 4 and 7, 2009.

Houston Grand Opera joins Los Angeles in choosing Donizetti’s most famous  lyric comedy for its opening night of the 2009-2010 season. It is importing Annabel Arden’s 2007 production from Britain’s Glyndebourne Festival.

[ Below: a scene from the Glyndebourne production, to be seen in Houston; edited image, based on a photograph from Glyndebourne Tours.]

Edoardo Mueller conducts. Eric Cutler is Nemorino, Liam Bonner is Belcore, and Alessandro Corbelli the Doctor Dulcamara. It is the occasion for the Houston Grand Opera debut of Russian soprano Ekaterina Siurina. (For a review of a recent Siurina performance, see: Castronovo, Siurina Lead Magical San Diego Opera “Pearl Fishers” – May 9, 2008.)

L’Elisir d’Amore (Donizetti), Lyric Opera, Chicago, January 23, 27(m), 30, February 2, 5(m), 7, 10, 13, 19 and 22, 2010.

Of all the American productions of this opera, none is more venerable than this Lyric Opera production, originally created in 1977 by Giulio Chazalettes, with sets and costumes by his frequent collaborator, Ulisse Santicchi. The production was first mounted for Luciano Pavarotti, Margherita Rinaldi, and Sir Geraint Evans.

Even the stage director for the revival, Vincent Liotta, knows a lot about this production, since he will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of his first time as the production’s “revival stage director” (working with no less than Pavarotti and Carlo Bergonzi as his Nemorinos).

[Below: the arrival of Dulcamara; edited image, based on a photograph for Lyric Opera of Chicago.]

Two lovers’ pairs are announced for 2010. Nicole Cabell is Adina and Giuseppe Filianoti is Nemorino for the five performances between January 23 and February 5. Susanna Phillips and Frank Lopardo are the lovers for the season’s remaining performances. Gabriele Viviani is Belcore and Alessandro Corbelli plays Dulcamara yet another time. Bruno Campanella conducts.

Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti), Florida Grand Opera, Miami: January 23, 26, 27,  29, 31(m), and Fort Lauderdale: February 4 and 6, 2010.

Florida Grand Opera is reviving “Lucia” as a vehicle for bel canto soprano, Eglise Gutierrez. The production’s Enrico is to be Mark Walters, but other cast members, including the lead tenor singing Edgardo are yet to be announced.

[Below: Eglise Gutierrez is Lucia, here in Graham Vick’s production for Florence; edited image.]

(The Lucia and Enrico for the January 27 and 30 performances are respectively Maria Alejandres and Jeremy Kelly.)

Roberto Devereux (Donizetti), Minnesota Opera, January 30, February 2, 4, 6 and 7(m), 2010.

Minnesota Opera, which produced Donizetti’s “Maria Padilla” for Brenda Harris in 2005, launches a “Tudor Trilogy”, again starring Harris as Queen Elizabeth I. Bruno Rubiero sings the title role.

Lester Lynch, fresh from appearances in Chicago and San Francisco as Crown and Porgy in Zambello’s production of Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” is the Nottingham, with Tamara Klivandenko as his wife, Sara.

[Below: Brenda Harris in the title role of Donizetti’s “Maria Padilla” at Minnesota Opera in 2005; edited image, based on a Michal Daniel photograph, courtesy of Minnesota Opera.]

Directed by Kevin Newbury, the sets are by Neil Patel, the costumes by Jessica Jahn. Francesca Maria Columbo will conducted.

La Fille du Regiment (Donizetti), Metropolitan Opera, New York City, February 6, 10, 13, 16, 19 and 22, 2010.

The Met will revive its Laurent Pelly-Chantal Thomas production of “La Fille”, again, as in its October, 2009 visit to San Francisco Opera, with Diana Damrau and Juan Diego Florez.

[Below: Marie (here, Natalie Dessay) is carried on the shoulders of the 21st; edited image, based on photograph from Metropolitan Opera.]

The rest of the cast differs from that announced for San Francisco. Felicity Palmer is the Marquise de Berkenfeld, and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa returns in a luscious cameo appearance for the high camp role of the Duchesse de Crakentorp. Maurizio Murano is the Sulpice. Marco Armiliato conducts.

Don Pasquale (Donizetti), Dallas Opera, February 19, 21(m), 24, 27, and March 7(m), 2010.

Dallas Opera has purchased and is refurbishing yet another  classic conceptualization of a Donizetti comedy – Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s “Don Pasquale” (an esteemed  production created for Covent Garden, but in recent years owned by the Los Angeles Opera).

[Below: Don Pasquale (Donato DiStefano) is delighted with his new fiancee Sephronia, who is really Norina (Adriana Kucerova); edited image, based on a Karen Almond photograph, courtesy of the Dallas Opera.]

Donato di Stefano has the title role, Slovakian soprano Adriana Kucerova (American debut) is Norina, Norman Shankle is Ernesto and Nathan Gunn is Doctor Malatesta.

Candace Evans will be the stage director for the revival. Stefano Ranzani, also in an American debut, will conduct.

For a review of the performance, see: Spirited, Beautifully Sung “Don Pasquale” at Dallas Opera – February 19, 2010.

Maria Stuarda (Donizetti) Canadian Opera Company, Toronto, May 1, 4, 10, 13, 22, 26, 28 and 30(m), 2010.

Donizetti’s docu-opera, based on Schiller’s play, is about Mary Queen of Scots and the political and psychological problems she created for her nemesis, Queen Elizabeth I of England. Belgian designer Benoit Dugardyn has created sets based on the Elizabethan-era Globe Theater, and Dugardyn’s frequent collaborator, Stephen Lawless is stage director. The sets are a co-production with Dallas Opera and debuted in Dallas in 2008.

[Below: Benoit Dugardyn’s sets for “Maria Stuarda”; edited image, based on a photograph from the Dallas Opera.]

The conductor is Antony Walker (See this website’s feature: Interviewing Conductor Antony Walker on Undervalued Masterpieces – and His Unexpected Celebrity.)

Serena Farnocchia will be Maria and Alexandra Pendatchanska is Elisabetta. Stylish tenor Eric Cutler is Roberto, Earl of Leicester, in the role of one of history’s few examples of men who played on the emotions of  “absolute monarch” queens and died a natural death. Patrick Carfizzi is Giorgio Talbot.

(For a discussion of this highly dramatic bel canto masterpiece, see: Jaho, Aldrich Triumph in San Diego “Maria Stuarda” – February 16, 2008.)

For a review of the performance, see: The Donizetti Revival, Second Stage: Stephen Lawless’ “Maria Stuarda” in Toronto – May 4, 2010.