“Bel Canto” Italian Works in Toronto and the American Southwest – April-November, 2014

This feature highlights selected performances of operas by the three early 19th century Italian composers collectively associated with the term “bel canto” opera. These performances are scheduled between April and November 2014, in Toronto, Santa Fe and San Francisco.

This list is supplementary to previous lists in this “Quests and Anticipations” series of selected operas being performed beginning April 2014:

These are Verdi’s “La Traviata” and Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” in San Francisco in June, 1014 [See In Quest of Italian Opera Core Repertory Masterpieces in the American Southwest, January, June 2014];

Verdi’s “Ballo in Maschera” in San DiegoKern’s “Show Boat” in San Francisco and Bizet’s “Carmen” in Santa Fe [See Popular Opera Offerings in Southwestern Vacation Destinations – March-September, 2014]

Massenet’s “Don Quichotte” in San Diego, Massenet’s “Thais” in Los Angeles, Beethoven’s “Fidelio” in Santa Fe and Richard Strauss’ “Ariadne auf Naxos” in Glimmerglass, New York [See Selected French and German Opera Offerings Coast to Coast April-August, 2014.]


Roberto Devereux (Donizetti), Canadian Opera Company (Toronto), April 25, 29, May 3, 10, 15, 18(m) and 21, 2014.

Operatic wonders are assembled in Toronto for Donizetti’s 1839 version of the Elizabeth and Essex story – lyric tenor Giuseppe Filianoti, soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, and Donizetti’s driving rhythms and dramatic melodies.

In Toronto, Filianoti, a strong candidate for consideration as  the world’s contemporary ranking Donizetti tenor, is Robert Devereux the Earl of Essex. Radvanovsky, whose career encompasses an astonishing range of roles, is cast as England’s Queen Elizabeth the First.

[Below: Sondra Radvanovsky as Queen Elisabetta I of England; edited image, based on a Michael Cooper photograph, courtesy of the Canadian Opera Company, Toronto.]


Canadian baritone Russell Braun is Nottingham, Allyson McHardy is Sara. Corrado Rovaris conducts. The Dallas Opera’s 2009 production, created by stage director Stephen Lawless, with sets by Benoit Dugardyn, will be presented.

[For my review of the Lawless-Dugardyn production at the Dallas Opera, see:  The Donizetti Revival, Second Stage: Papian, Costello in Lawless’ Dallas “Devereux” – January 23, 2009.]

[For my performance review, see: Sondra Radvanovsky’s Astounding Virgin Queen in Donizetti’s “Roberto Devereux” – Canadian Opera Company, Toronto, April 25, 2014.]


Don Pasquale (Donizetti), Santa Fe Opera, June 28, July 4, 9, 29, August 4, 9, 13, 19 and 22, 2014.

French concept director Laurent Pelly returns to Santa Fe Opera, whose production of Verdi’s “La Traviata” it produced in 2008 and 2013, to create a new production of Donizetti’s final comic work, “Don Pasquale”.

[Below: Andrew Shore as Don Pasquale; edited image, based on a Ken Howard photograph, courtesy of the Santa Fe Opera.]


Andrew Shore sings the title role, with Laura Tatulescu as Norina, Alek Shrader as Ernesto and Zachary Nelson as Dr Malatesa.

Conductor Corrado Roavaris, fresh from another Donizetti assignment in Toronto (see above) conducts. Chantal Thomas, who is Pelly’s set designer of choice, collaborates.

[For my reviews of Pelly productions of the other major Donizetti comic operas, see: Hayseed Hilarity: The Pelly “L’Elisir” in Paris – September 16, 2007 and Debuting Diana Damrau Delights as Donizetti Diva: San Francisco “Fille du Regiment” – October 13, 2009.] 

[For my performance review, see: Review: Ovations for Laurent Pelly’s Daffy “Don Pasquale” – Santa Fe Opera, June 28, 2014.]


Norma (Bellini), San Francisco Opera. September 5, 10, 14(m), 19, 23, 27 and 30, 2014. 

Sondra Radvanovsky is the Druid priestess Norma in a new production. Her co-stars are Marco Berti as her secret husband the Roman Pollione, and Jamie Barton as her  rival for his affections, Adalgisa.

[Below: Norma (Sondra Radvanovsky, right) comforts the distressed Adalgisa (Jamie Barton, left) ; edited image of a Cory Weaver photograph, courtesy of the San Francisco Opera.]


Christian Van Horn is Norma’s father, Oroveso. San Francisco Opera’s Music Director, Nicola Luisotti, conducts this opening production of the company’s 2014-15 season.

Kevin Newbury, who designed the sets for the world premieres  of Adamo’s “The Gospel According to Mary Magdalene” for San Francisco Opera and “Oscar” at San Francisco Opera, takes on the assignment of recreating a new production of an opera set in Roman Gaul.

[For my performance review, see: Review: Sondra Radvanovsky’s Stunning Season Opening “Norma” – San Francisco Opera, September 5, 2014 and also, A Second Look: “Norma” at the San Francisco Opera – September 14, 2014.


La Cenerentola (Rossini), San Francisco Opera, November 9, 13, 16(m), 18, 21 and 26, 2014.

San Frnacisco Opera revives the classic 1969 Jean-Pierre Ponnelle production of Rossini’s comic opera based on a version of the Cinderella story. A world treasure, the Ponnelle “Cenerentola” is the occasion for the San Francisco Opera debut of Rossini specialist Rene Barbera.

[Below: Cenerentola (Karine Deshayes, left) is disguised as an elegant, mysterious lady while Prince Ramiro (Rene Barbera, right) is disguised as his valet; resized image of a Kristin Hoebermann photograph.]


Mezzo-soprano Karine Deshayes, also a San Francisco Opera debut sings the title role.  Carlos Chausson is Don Magnifico and Fabio Capitanucci is Dandini.

The opera marks the return to San Francisco Opera, after a long absence of Sapnish conductor Jesus Lopez-Cobos.

[For miy performance review, see: “Cenerentola” Review: San Francisco Opera’s Splendidly Sung, Sumptuously Staged Cinderella Story – November 9, 2014.]