The 2001 performance of
Living Room Opera
(Opera Lirica del Soggiorno)
3:00 PM Sunday, July 22, 2001 at the Park Avenue Congregational Church in Arlington, MA
Martha Birnbaum (1) - Nancy Burstein (1, 2) - Rebecca Burstein (1, 2)
Richard Burstein (1, 2) - Janice Dallas (1, 2) - Mary Finn (1, 2)
Sybil Gilchrist (1) - Randi Kestin-Peisach (1) - Laura Weiss (1)
in scenes from...
Beatrice et Benedict ~~ Die Fledermaus ~~ Giulio Cesare
Lohengrin ~~ Lucia di Lammermoor ~~ Norma
|Beatrice et Benedict
Hector Berlioz (1803-1869)
This French Romantic opera is based on Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.
Beatrice and Benedict, confirmed spinster and bachelor, are in the habit of sharpening their wits by teasing and insulting each other. Beatrice's cousin Hero, who is about to be married, has joined in a plot to convince each of the two adversaries that the other is in love - hoping to trick them into actual love and marriage. In this scene, Hero and her maid, Ursula, start a conversation about Hero's upcoming marriage, and are amused to see by Beatrice's reactions that their plot is starting to take effect.
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|Lucia di Lammermoor
Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848)
This Italian Bel Canto opera is based on The Bride of Lammermoor, a novel by Sir Walter Scott.
A feud between the Scots families of Lammermoor and Ravenswood has left the Lammermoors in possession of all of both families' lands, and led to the death of all but one of the Ravenswoods. Enrico (Lord Henry Ashton of Lammermoor) wishes to strengthen his currently shaky political position by marrying his sister, Lucia, to the politically strong Arturo (Lord Arthur Bucklaw). But Lucy has met, fallen in love with, and become engaged to Edgardo, the sole remaining Ravenswood.
Enrico, learning of this, does all he can to dissuade his sister from a marriage which he feels will destroy his family, and finally comes up with a plot to shake her: in this scene he shows his defiant sister a forged letter which states that Edgardo has been unfaithful to Lucia during his current absence in France, and is actually pledged to a Frenchwoman. In despair, Lucia agrees to marry Arturo, as a procession heralding his arrival is heard in the distance.
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George Frederick Handel (1685-1759)
Phil Shaw, Aaron Dinkin
This Italian-language Baroque opera by a German/English composer was composed to a libretto by G.F. Bussani.
Pompeo (known to history as Pompey, a Roman general) fled to Egypt after losing a battle to Caesar. Tolemeo (Ptolemy), the brother of Cleopatra, who shared with her the throne of Egypt, had Pompey beheaded, and sent the head to Caesar in the care of Achilla, one of his generals, in the hope of currying favor with the powerful Roman. As soon as Achilla saw Cornelia, Pompey's widow, he fell in love with her - not a hopeful situation for the messenger bringing news of a beloved husband's violent death!
By this point in the opera, Cornelia and her son, Sesto (Sextus) find themselves prisoners in Egypt. Sesto has threatened Tolemeo, and is about to be led off to prison. Tolomeo has a place for Cornelia, as well: He tells Achillas that she is to tend the flowers in his harem (although he makes it clear in an aside that tending flowers is not all she would be doing). In this scene Achillas tells Cornelia that she can win both her son's and her own release by agreeing to marry him. Corneia and Sesto angerly refuse, and conclude the act with a duet bemoaning their fate.
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Johann Strauss, Jr. (1825-1899)
This late Romantic Viennese operetta is based on a French farce, Le Reveillon, by Meilhac and Halevy.
It's New Year's Eve. Rosalinde's husband, Gabriel Eisenstein, is due to commence a brief prison sentence tonight (because he kicked the tax collector!). Rosalinde, Eisenstein, and their chambermaid Adele appear miserable at the prospect - but are they really? Eisenstein has been persuaded by his friend, Dr. Falke, to secretly postpone his visit to jail and spend the night at a fancy-dress ball. Adele has been sent an invitation to the same party, and told to come secretly, dressed in her mistress' gown, and to claim to be an aristocrat. And Rosalinde is planning a brief tete-a-tete with an old boyfriend, followed by a jaunt to - amazingly enough - a fancy-dress ball, to which she's been invited by none other than Dr. Falke. None of them knows each other's plans for the evening, nor do they know that their plans are all part of a plot on the part of Dr Falke - whose nick-name, "The Bat" (Die Fledermaus) is the result of trick a Eisenstein played on him a few years ago.
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Richard Wagner (1813-1883)
This German Romantic opera is based on the Arthurian legend of Lohengrin, son of Percival (Parsival, the Knight of the Holy Grail).
Telramund, regent of the Duchy of Brabant, has accused his ward, the Christian Elsa, of murdering her own brother, the heir to the Duchy. Actually, Telramond's wife, the Pagan sorceress Ortrud, has hidden the boy under an enchantment. When an unknown knight appears and proves Elsa's innocence by defeating Telramund in formal combat, the ruler and his consort invent another plot to protect their hold on the throne, based on the fact that the knight has promised to marry and protect Elsa on the condition that she never ask him his name or his origin. In this scene, Ortrud gains Elsa's trust by playing on her sympathy, and procedes to insinuate doubt in the girl's mind, leading her to ultimately break her promise by asking her new husband the questions she has been forbidden to ask.
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Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835)
This Italian Bel Canto opera was composed to a libretto by Romani after a play by Soumet.
Norma, the leader of a group of Druids, has been discouraging her followers from rising up against the invading Romans, claiming that the moon-goddess still calls for peace. The truth is that she is in love with a Roman general, by whom she has secretly borne two children. Her political worries are compounded by personal worries: her lover has stopped visiting her.
Adalgisa, a young Druidess, comes to her leader for help: she has fallen in love, and her lover is urging her to break her vows of chastity and elope with him. Adalgisa asks for pardon and for help in fighting her desires. Norma, remembering her own seduction and the suffering she has gone through, assures the girl that she has not yet reached the point in her novitiate at which her vows become irrevocable, frees her from those vows, and urges her to marry her lover and live a happy life. (Neither of them yet knows that Adalgisa's lover, whose method of seduction sounds so familiar to Norma, is in fact Norma's lover!)
© March 2000 Marion Leeds Carroll http://www.leedscarroll.com /LRO/../LROFooter01.shtml was last modified 02/16/02