Lucia di Lammermoorby Gaetano Donizetti
Mar. 3, 4*†, 6, 8 and 10†, 2012
In one of Donizetti’s most powerful and gripping operas, Lucia secretly loves Edgardo, her clan’s enemy. But scheming to restore the family’s fortune, her brother forces her into a loveless marriage – with disastrous consequences. After winning the hearts of Minnesota Opera audiences as Eurydice, Susanna Phillips returns to star as the fragile heroine of this exhilarating masterpiece of melodic beauty and psychological depth.
*Angela Mortellaro performs the role of Lucia on this date.
† Nathaniel Peake performs the role of Edgardo on these dates.
Sung in Italian with English translations projected above the stage.
Estimated run time, including one intermission, is 2 hours 30 minutes.
Dates + Performancesat Ordway. Get directions
*Section F is Partial View. Stage and/or surtitles may be obstructed from seats in this area.
+Student/Senior discount is available on Weeknights only. To order, call the Ticket Office at 612-333-6669 Mon.-Fri., 9am-6pm.
Scene one – the grounds Enrico expresses to Normanno his deep concern. His position as Lord Keeper of Lammermoor is a tenuous one, and the ousting of its previous owners has made a bitter enemy of Edgardo, the last surviving heir. The political tide of Scotland alternates between Catholic and Protestant leaders, again putting his seemingly powerful situation at risk. Enrico has arranged a marriage between his sister, Lucia, and Arturo, a union that can only improve his status. Raimondo, the chaplain, cautions that she is not ready to love, citing her grief over her mother's recent death. Normanno counters that she's hardly grieving but full of ardor – she is in love with another man, one who saved her from a rushing bull. She has since seen him every day at dawn. Though his identity is not known, Normanno suspects it is in fact Edgardo. Enrico is furious at the news – Edgardo will pay for this insult with his own blood.
Scene two – the fountain Lucia waits with Alisa for the arrival of Edgardo. She tells her companion of the mysterious lore that surrounds the fountain – it was there that a Ravenswood, burning with jealousy, stabbed his beloved. She fell into the waters and remains there still. Her ghost is said to haunt the fountain and once tried to speak to Lucia. Alisa advises that only peril can follow such an experience and encourages her friend to forget Edgardo. Lucia cannot – he is her only happiness in a world filled with tears. Alisa withdraws, and Edgardo appears. In the wake of Scotland's political turmoil he has been called to France. He plans to extend to Enrico his hand in peace and ask for her hand in return, but Lucia fears her brother's wrath. They exchange rings as a token of their secret bond, and Edgardo promises to write while he is away.
Scene one – the chamber Several months have passed with no word from Edgardo. Lucia reluctantly has agreed to marry Arturo, and preparations are being made for the ceremony. Normanno confirms with Enrico that he has been able to intercept every one of Edgardo's letters, and in their place a forgery has been produced. When Lucia is presented with the fake letter, she faints after reading its contents – Edgardo has taken up with another woman and no longer loves her. Enrico berates his sister for pledging her faith to such a vile seducer and betraying her family's honor. Raimondo provides further evidence of Edgardo's abandonment – the chaplain has seen to it that every one of her letters reached him, yet there has been no reply until this day. Raimondo encourages Lucia to resign herself to the union.
Scene two – the reception Wedding guests celebrate the impending nuptials. As Arturo is received, Enrico assures him of Lucia's willingness to marry and that he should not be discouraged by her sorrow, which is clearly the result of her mother's passing. As Lucia is presented to her bridegroom, Enrico berates her mercilessly in a series of asides. She begrudgingly signs the wedding contract, and moments later Edgardo bursts into the room. Lucia swoons and everyone is filled with shock and remorse – like a wilting rose, she hovers between life and death. Believing that Lucia still loves him, Edgardo is stunned when shown the marriage contract bearing her signature. In despair he offers his own life, but Enrico orders him out.
Scene one – the tower Alone in the spare remains of his family's estate, Edgardo rues his dismal fate as a storm rages outside. Enrico pays a return visit, needling him with details of the wedding ceremony and the reminder that Arturo and Lucia are at this very moment consummating their wedding vows. He then challenges Edgardo to a duel, to which the latter heartily agrees - he had promised on his father's grave to avenge the family name.
Scene two – the party The wedding festivities are interrupted by news from a badly shaken Raimondo. He heard screams from the bridal chamber and opening the door, found Arturo in a pool of blood with a wide-eyed Lucia clutching the knife that killed him. Lucia stumbles before the guests, obviously delirious, looking for Edgardo. Everyone is horrified by the tragic outcome of the day.
Scene three – the tombs Edgardo waits for the duel's appointed hour, intending to surrender himself on Enrico's sword. He soon learns of the prior evening's calamity and is told that Lucia has gone insane. Broken by the news, Edgardo takes his own life.
Lucia di Lammermoor
|music by Gaetano Donizetti|
|libretto by Salvadore Cammarano|
|after Sir Walter Scott's|
|The Bride of Lammermoor (1819)|
|Teatro San Carlo, Naples|
|September 26, 1835|
|sung in Italian with English translations|
|stage director||James Robinson|
|set designer||Christine Jones|
|costume designer||Constance Hoffman|
|original lighting designer||Scott Zielinski|
|lighting designer||Scott Bolman|
|Lucia||Susanna Phillips *|
|Angela Mortellaro **|
|Edgardo, Master of Ravenswood||Michael Spyres †
|Nathaniel Peake ††
|Enrico, Lord of Lammermoor,
||James Westman *
| and Lucia's brother
||Hyung Yun **
|Raimondo, a chaplain
||Ben Wager *
|Joseph Beutel **
|Arturo, Lucia's bridegroom
||A. J. Glueckert
|Alisa, Lucia's companion
|Normanno, Enrico's henchman
||John Robert Lindsey
|retainers, servants, wedding guests
|the grounds and halls of Lammermoor|
|* performs March 3, 6, 8, 10|
|** performs March 4
| † performs March 3, 6, 8
| †† performs March 4, 10
Joseph Beutel (Raimondo)
– performs March 4
Joseph Beutel, bass, joins Minnesota Opera’s Resident Artist program after spending the summer as a Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Artist, where he covered Méphistophélès in Faust and the Catholic Priest in The Last Savage. Previous roles have included the Impresario/Direttore in the young artist production of Viva La Mamma! at Seattle Opera; Benoit and Alcindoro in La bohème for South Texas Lyric Opera; Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, Mustafà in L’italiana in Algeri, Simone in Gianni Schicchi, Le Roi in Cendrillon and Herr Reich in Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor for IU Opera Theatre; and the Sergeant in Pirates of Penzance for Western Michigan University.
Mr. Beutel was a district finalist of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2011, won the Sullivan Foundation Career Development Award in November and received the Palm Beach Opera Competition Encouragement Award in 2010 and 2011. For Minnesota Opera this season, he will appear as the British Major in Silent Night, Le Bailli in Werther, Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor and the Bonze in Madame Butterfly. This summer he sings Lamoral in Arabella for Santa Fe Opera.
Scott Bolman (lighting designer)
Recent credits include the premieres of Missy Mizzoli's opera Song from the Uproar (The Kitchen) and Darcy James Argue's Brooklyn Babylon (Brooklyn Academy of Music). He also lit Shen Wei's opening performance at the Q Confucius exhibition (Rockbund Museum, Shanghai), Sty of the Blind Pig, The Understudy (Theaterworks Hartford), the lighting installation Act Curtain (with Wingspace, EMPAC Filament Festival), Darkling (Cinedans Festival, Amsterdam), Katrina Ballads (with film by Bill Morrison; Le Poisson Rouge, Hobby Performing Arts Center) and Coup de Foudre (with DJ Spooky; Guggenheim Museum NYC). Upcoming projects include Robert Wilson's Odyssey (National Theater of Greece) and Clementine Hunter (Peak Performances). Scott is the theatrical lighting consultant for the renovation of the new Roulette venue in Brooklyn. He co-teaches design collaboration at Brown University and is a founding member of Wingspace Design Collective.
A. J. Glueckert (Arturo)
Tenor A. J. Glueckert begins his first season as a Minnesota Opera Resident Artist singing Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor and the Kronprinz in Silent Night. Previously, he has been seen as Dr. Caius in Falstaff at Utah Opera where he was a resident artist last year and the Simpleton in Boris Godunov at Utah Festival Opera. Other roles include the Tambor-Major in Wozzeck and Sextus in Harrison’s Young Caesar for Ensemble Parallèlle, Wolfram in Les contes d’Hoffmann for Santa Fe Opera, where he was an Apprentice Artist, Tybalt in Roméo et Juliette and Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor for San Francisco Lyric Opera, El Remendado in Carmen for Festival Opera of Walnut Creek and Carl Magnus in A Little Night Music for SFCM Musical Theater Ensemble.
Mr. Glueckert performed a number of roles at his alma mater, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where he studied with Cuban tenor Cesar Ulloa, including Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Dema in Cavalli’s L’Egisto, the title role in Orpheus in the Underworld, Flute in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Witch in Hansel and Gretel and Don Basilio/Don Curzio in Le nozze di Figaro. He is a first place winner of the YES Stewart Brady Competition. At the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, A. J. won an encouragement award in 2009 and district competitions in 2010 and 2011. He received the encouragement award in the 2010 regional auditions and will compete this January in the 2012 regionals.
Constance Hoffman (costume designer)
Constance Hoffman has designed costumes for opera, dance and theater regionally, internationally and in New York City. Her credits include collaborations with theater artists such as Mark Lamos, Julie Taymor, Eliot Feld and Mikhail Baryshnikov; opera directors Robert Carsen, David Alden, Christopher Alden and Keith Warner; and entertainer Bette Midler. Her work has been seen on many stages in New York City, including the Public Theatre, The New Victory Theatre, The Second Stage, The Theatre for a New Audience, Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, The Joyce and New York City Opera. On her Broadway debut, she earned a Tony nomination and an Outer Critics Circle Award for her designs for The Green Bird, directed by Julie Taymor.
Hoffman’s collaborations in opera have taken her to the Glyndebourne Festival Opera, the Paris Opera, the New Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv, the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich and the Tokyo Opera Nomori, among others. In the United States, she has designed costumes for San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Minnesota Opera, Portland Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Lincoln Center Festival, and she has had a long association with the Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown, New York, whose productions have traveled regularly to the New York City Opera. At New York City Opera, Hoffman’s designs for the critically acclaimed Paul Bunyan, Tosca and Lizzie Borden have been televised in the Live from Lincoln Center broadcasts.
Regionally, she has designed in theaters such as the Guthrie, the Hartford Stage, The Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, DC, The Center Stage in Baltimore, The Alley Theatre in Houston, Goodspeed Musicals and the Prince Music Theatre.
In addition to her Tony Nomination and Outer Critics Circle Award for The Green Bird in 2000, Hoffman was honored in 2001 with The Theatre Development Fund’s Irene Sharaff Young Masters Award, and in 2003, 2007 and 2011 with an invitation to exhibit her work in the Prague Quadrennial.
She is currently engaged at the Tisch School of the Arts as an Associate Arts Professor in the Department of Design for Stage and Film, and holds an MFA as an alumna of that program.
Christine Jones (set designer)
Christine Jones’ Broadway credits include American Idiot (Tony Award), Everyday Rapture, Spring Awakening (Tony Nomination) and The Green Bird, with director Julie Taymor (Drama Desk Nomination).
Other credits include: Coraline, adapted from Neil Gaman’s popular book with music by Stephen Merritt, The Book of Longing, music by Philip Glass, based on the poems of Leonard Cohen (Lincoln Center Festival); The Onion Cellar, which she co-created along with director Marcus Stern and The Dresden Dolls, and for which she won Boston’s Elliot Norton Award for her design which turned the black box theatre into a 360-degree cabaret space; Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare in the Park); Nocturne (New York Theatre Workshop); Burn This, starring Ed Norton and Catherine Keener (Signature Theatre); Debbie Does Dallas (Jane Street Theatre); and True Love (for which she was instrumental in creating The Zipper space infamous for its use of car seats in the audience).
Opera credits include: Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man (Minnesota Opera); Lucia di Lammermoor (New York City Opera, Minnesota Opera); and Guilio Cesare (Houston Grand Opera). Her work was recently exhibited in Curtain Call: Celebrating a Century of Women Designers for Live Performance at Lincoln Center Library for Performing Arts.
As the Artistic Director of Theatre for One she has led workshops at Princeton and Juilliard, collaborating with students and professionals in the exploration of the relationship between actor and performer in an intimate setting.
For achievements in her field she received an Award of Distinction from Concordia University, 2009, and was honored at New York University’s Tisch Gala, 2007.
John Robert Lindsey (Normanno)
Colorado native tenor John Robert Lindsey is a recent graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder where he earned his Master of Music in vocal performance under the tutelage of Julie Simson. Past engagements include Tenor Soloist in the Messiah by Handel, Sam Polk in Susannah by Floyd, the character of Stage Manager in Our Town by Rorem and Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni by Mozart. Mr. Lindsey was met with numerous successes in competitions in the recent past. He was a regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions for the past two years, as well as taking third place in 2010 and first place in 2011 at the prestigious Denver Lyric Opera Guild competition.
For Minnesota Opera’s 2011–2012 season, Mr. Lindsey will appear as Jonathan Dale in Silent Night, Schmidt in Werther, Normanno in Lucia di Lammermoor and Goro in Madame Butterfly. He will also sing a concert of Carmen highlights with the Mankato Symphony. Next season he returns as Ismaele in Nabucco, Hervey in Anna Bolena and Pang in Turandot.
Angela Mortellaro (Lucia)
– performs March 4
Soprano Angela Mortellaro returns to the Minnesota Opera's Resident Artist program for a second season, singing the roles of Despina in Così fan tutte, Madeleine in Silent Night, Sophie in Werther, the title role in the second cast of Lucia di Lammermoor and Kate Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly. Last season, she was seen as Amore in Orpheus and Eurydice, Clorinda in Cinderella and Annina in La traviata . Ms. Mortellaro has sung the role of Gretel in Hansel and Gretel with both PORTOpera and Sarasota Opera. She was a Caramoor Opera Bel Canto Young Artist and a Chautauqua Opera Apprentice Artist, where she sang Edith in The Pirates of Penzance and Anna Gomez in The Consul. For Orlando Opera Company, Ms. Mortellaro sang Sister Genovieffa in Suor Angelica, Sally in Die Fledermaus and Clorinda in La Cenerentola. The soprano also appeared as Clorinda for Aspen Opera Theatre as well as Frasquita in its production of Carmen. Internationally, she has performed Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro for Operafestival di Roma.
Ms. Mortellaro has a master of music degree in vocal performance from Rice University (Houston, Texas), where she sang Diana in La Calisto, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel, Sandrina in La finta giardiniera and the Governess in The Turn of the Screw. She completed her bachelor of music degree at the University of Wisconsin (Whitewater).
Nathaniel Peake (Edgardo)
– performs March 4, 10
American tenor Nathaniel Peake, a 2010 Metropolitan Opera National Council Winner, has been admired for “his ringing tone and effortless phrasing” (San Francisco Chronicle). The Lansing State Journal awarded him with a “Thespie” award for Best Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of the title role of Bernstein’s Candide. In a recent production of L’amico Fritz, Mr. Peake was lauded for his “brilliant performance in the title role, deploying a clarion tone that moved as deftly through the graceful ease of Act I as through the more emotionally urgent writing of the latter acts.” (San Francisco Chronicle).
An exciting season for 2011–2012 includes a return to the San Francisco Opera as Tamino in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, a new production by Jun Kaneko, conducted by Rory Macdonald, and debuts with Seattle Opera as Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and Edgardo in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor at Minnesota Opera. Mr. Peake will return to Syracuse Opera in a role debut as Alfredo in Verdi’s La traviata and to Wolf Trap Opera for his title role debut in Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann and as Pirelli in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd.
Nathaniel Peake began the 2010–2011 season performing Pinkerton in a new production of Madama Butterfly at Houston Grand Opera as well as Scaramuccio in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, Arturo in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. He also presented a recital at the Morgan Library with legendary mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick as part of The George London Foundation recital series. In the summer of 2010, Mr. Peake was seen on the stages Wolf Trap Opera as Sultan Soliman in Mozart’s Zaide, Albazar in Rossini’s Il turco in Italia and Snout in Britten’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream. He also performed in concert with the National Symphony Orchestra.
In 2008 and 2009, Nathaniel Peake was in the San Francisco Opera Merola program, performing the title role of Mascagni’s L’amico Fritz in addition to scenes from La traviata, Manon, Werther and Rigoletto. In fall of 2009, he made his Houston Grand Opera debut in the role of Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore. Mr. Peake was also seen at Syracuse Opera as the Second Priest/Amored Man in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Don José in Peter Brook’s La Tragédie de Carmen and Tybalt in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette.
Nathaniel Peake has won several awards in competitions from, The George London Foundation (2010), The Metropolitan Opera National Council (2010), The Richard Tucker Foundation (2010), Placido Domingo’s Operalia Competition (2010), The National Opera Association (2009), The Eleanor McCollum Vocal Competition (2009), and many more.
Mr. Peake hails from Humble, Texas, and is a graduate of Michigan State University. Nathaniel credits his family for a large part of his success, as they continue to support him unwaveringly.
Susanna Phillips (Lucia)
– performs March 3, 6, 8, 10
“Susanna Phillips … demonstrates rare stylistic fluency, canny pathos and dynamic finesse. Susanna Phillips. Remember the name.” – Financial Times, August 2011
Alabama native Susanna Phillips has attracted special recognition for a voice of striking beauty and sophistication. Recipient of the Metropolitan Opera’s 2010 Beverly Sills Artist Award, she returns to the Met this season for a reprisal of her signature Musetta in La bohème. Other engagements in her 2011–2012 season include appearances in the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor with Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Minnesota Opera; as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte at the Gran Teatro del Liceu Barcelona; and as the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro with the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux. She will also perform in concert with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and the Santa Fe Concert Association. After Phillips’s recent participation in New York’s “Mostly Mozart” Festival, Opera News observed: “Her phrasing and sound production are of the first rank and listening to her was an unmitigated pleasure.”
Highlights of Phillips’s 2010–2011 season included Metropolitan Opera appearances as Pamina, in Julie Taymor’s celebrated production of The Magic Flute, and as Musetta – the role with which Phillips made her 2008 house debut – in La bohème, in New York and on tour in Japan. She was a featured artist in the Met’s Summer Recital Series in Central Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park, and a resident artist at the 2010 Marlboro Music Festival. In August 2011, Phillips was featured at the opening night of the Mostly Mozart Festival, which aired live on PBS’ Live From Lincoln Center. Other season highlights included Euridice in Minnesota Opera’s Orpheus and Eurydice with David Daniels; her first staged Lucia di Lammermoor with Opera Birmingham; and Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Boston Lyric Opera. Major concert appearances included the Marilyn Horne Foundation gala at Carnegie Hall and a solo recital in Chicago.
In the 2009–2010 season, Phillips portrayed Pamina at the Met under conductor Bernard Labadie, and – as an alumna of the city’s Juilliard School and recipient of the Alice Tully Vocal Arts Debut Recital Award – made her New York solo recital debut at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. Following her Baltimore Symphony debut under Marin Alsop, the Baltimore Sun proclaimed, “She’s the real deal.” Phillips also appeared with Lyric Opera of Chicago as Adina in L’elisir d’amore; with Opera Birmingham as the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro; and made her Fort Worth Opera Festival debut as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, earning rave reviews.
The soprano had a banner year in 2005, when she won four of the world’s leading vocal competitions: Operalia (both First Place and the Audience Prize), the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the MacAllister Awards and the George London Foundation. She went on to make her Santa Fe Opera debut as Pamina, before returning to Santa Fe in a trio of Mozart roles: Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, Countess Almaviva in Figaro and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni. Recent seasons have brought significant operatic debuts, including Mozart’s Countess with the Dallas Opera, Donna Anna with Boston Lyric Opera and her first Violetta with Opera Birmingham. Phillips won kudos in the notoriously challenging role of Elmira, when she made her Minnesota Opera debut in a Tim Albery production of Reinhard Keiser’s The Fortunes of King Croesus. As a participant in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center, she sang Juliette in Roméo et Juliette, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus and – opposite Susan Graham – Diana in a new Robert Carsen production of Iphigénie en Tauride. Phillips has sung leading roles at Madison Opera and Utah Opera and portrayed Blanche de la Force in Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites at Kentucky Opera.
In recital, the soprano has appeared at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC under the auspices of the Vocal Arts Society and at New York’s Carnegie Hall with the Marilyn Horne Foundation. Her ever-expanding concert repertoire has been showcased with many prestigious organizations: she has performed with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic under Alan Gilbert, and has sung Mozart’s Mass in C minor with the Chicago Symphony and Beethoven’s Mass in C and Choral Fantasy at both Lincoln Center, for her Mostly Mozart debut, and Carnegie Hall, with Kent Tritle and the Oratorio Society of New York Phillips has also sung Dvorák’s Stabat mater with the Santa Fe Symphony, Brahms’s Deutsches Requiem with the Santa Barbara Symphony and Wolf’s Spanisches Liederbuch at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall. Other recent concert and oratorio engagements include Carmina burana, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, Mozart’s Coronation Mass, the Fauré and Mozart Requiems and Handel’s Messiah. She made her Carnegie Hall debut with Skitch Henderson, Rob Fisher and the New York Pops.
Phillips is a winner of the Marilyn Horne Foundation Competition, and was awarded grants from the Santa Fe Opera and the Sullivan Foundation. She also won first prizes from the American Opera Society Competition and the Musicians Club of Women in Chicago. Phillips is also a graduate of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center.
A native of Huntsville, Alabama, Susanna Phillips is grateful for the ongoing support of her community in her career. She sang Strauss’ Vier Letzte Lieder, gave her first concert performances in the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor with the Huntsville Symphony, and returns frequently to her native state for recitals and orchestral appearances. Over 400 people traveled from Huntsville to New York City in December 2008 for Phillips’s Metropolitan Opera debut as Musetta in La bohème.
James Robinson (stage director)
Stage director James Robinson is regarded as one of America’s most inventive and sought after directors. He has won wide acclaim for productions that range from standard repertory, to world premieres, to seldom performed works and he is considered the most widely performed director of opera in North America.
Mr. Robinson is currently Artistic Director of Opera Theatre of St Louis. His first production there was a landmark version of John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles (a co-production with the Wexford Festival in Ireland).
Past seasons’ productions further include Die Entführung aus dem Serail and La bohème for Houston Grand Opera, L’elisir d’amore for Boston Lyric Opera, Káťa Kabanová and Eugene Onegin for Opera Ireland, Norma for the Royal Swedish Opera, Handel’s Rinaldo for Opera Australia, Handel’s Radamisto and Dominick Argento’s Miss Havisham’s Fire for Opera Theatre of St. Louis and his widely seen production of Nixon in China for Opera Colorado. His production of Turandot, first produced for the Minnesota Opera in 1995, has since been adopted by more than twenty-five companies in North America.
James Robinson has directed numerous new productions for the New York City Opera, including Il trittico, Il viaggio a Reims, Lucia di Lammermoor, Hänsel und Gretel (co-produced with Los Angeles Opera) and the widely acclaimed La bohème (broadcast on Public Television as part of Live from Lincoln Center in 2001). In 2002, he made his Houston Grand Opera debut with a new production of Die Entführung aus dem Serail and followed up this production with La bohème, Lucia and Giulio Cesare. He directed new productions of Elektra and Norma for the Canadian Opera Company, The Rake’s Progress and Così fan tutte for the Santa Fe Opera, Carmen for the Seattle Opera, Antheil’s Transatlantic and Lucia for the Minnesota Opera and Eugene Onegin for Boston Lyric Opera. In 2004, he directed the world premiere of Daniel Catán’s Salsipuedes for the Houston Grand Opera and in the same year, his production of Nixon in China, first produced by Opera Theatre of St. Louis, was seen throughout the United States.
In the 2009–2010 season, James directed The Ghosts of Versailles at the Wexford Festival, Dominick Argento’s Casanova’s Homecoming with the Minnesota Opera and Die Entführung aus dem Serail for Welsh National Opera.
Highlights of the 2010–2011 season included productions of Un ballo in maschera with Washington National Opera, a return to Wexford Festival with The Golden Ticket, Nixon in China with the Canadian Opera Company and Jeanne d’Arc au Bûcher at the Barbican Centre, London, and with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Marin Alsop.
Upcoming projects include the world premieres of Dolores Claiborne for San Francisco, Carnival of the Animals for London's Riverside Hammersmith and the American premiere of Unsuk Chin's Alice in Wonderland for St. Louis.
Michael Spyres (Edgardo)
– performs March 3, 6, 8
Michael Spyres was born in Mansfield, Missouri, where he grew up in a family of musicians. He began his studies in the United States and continued them at the Vienna Conservatory, Austria. He was a Young Artist with Opera Theatre Saint Louis, where he made his main stage operatic debut in a touring production as Rodolfo in Puccini’s La bohème. Prior to his international breakthrough, he also performed such operatic roles as Guglielmo in Donizetti's Viva la mamma, Lindoro in Rossini’s L'italiana in Algeri and Hoffmann in Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann as well as oratorio works like Händel's Messiah, Bach's Weihnachtsoratorium and Mozart's Requiem.
After his debut at Teatro San Carlo of Naples in 2006 as Jaquino in Beethoven’s Fidelio, Spyres performed the role of Alberto from Rossini's La gazzetta at the Bad Wildbad Rossini Festival and toured Japan as Alfredo in Verdi’s La traviata. He returned to Bad Wildbad in July 2008 for his role debut as Rossini’s Otello.
For the 2008–2009 season, Michael Spyres became member of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, where he performed roles such as Tamino in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and Steuermann in Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer. Other important engagements in 2008–2009 were his UK debut in London as Fernand in a concert performance of La favorite, Duca in a production of Rigoletto for Springfield (Missouri), an opera gala concert in the Tchaikovsky Conservatory Moscow, his debut at the Teatro alla Scala di Milano as Belfiore in Rossini’s Il viaggio a Reims as well as the role of Raoul in the uncut version of Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots for the SummerScape Festival in New York.
Important engagements of the 2009–2010 season were the title role in Bernstein’s Candide for his debut with the Vlaamse Opera in Gent and Antwerp, a new production of Britten’s Billy Budd (role of Novice) for Bilbao, his debut with Opera Ireland as Roméo in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, Néocle in Rossini's Le siège de Corinthe in concert performances at the Wildbad Rossini Festival as well as Tybalt in Roméo et Juliette for the Salzburg Festival 2010. In May 2010, Spyres performed the role of Ozìa in Mozart’s Betulia Liberata with Riccardo Muti at the Salzburg Whitsun Festival and subsequently at the Ravenna Festival.
Roles in 2010–2011 include Tamino in a new production of Die Zauberflöte at the Opéra de Wallonie in Liège, the title role in the first modern staged performances of Steffani's Antigono in Lisbon, Gianetto in Rossini's La gazza ladra for Semperoper Dresden, Ramiro in Rossini's La Cenerentola for the Teatro Comunale di Bologna and Arnold in Rossini's Guillaume Tell at the Caramoor Festival, conducted by Will Crutchfield. Under the baton of Riccardo Muti, he will be participating within a series of concert performances of Verdi's Otello with the Chicago Symphony Orchstra. These concerts will also lead to his debut at the Carnegie Hall in New York. Also on the concert platform, he could be heard recently in Schumann’s Faust Szenen with the American Symphony Orchestra and at Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow for an aria concert.
In October 2011, he returned to La Scala di Milano as Rodrigo in Rossini's La donna del lago, conducted by Roberto Abbado. Further engagements during the 2011/2012 season include a concert tour of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the London Symphony Orchestra and John Eliot Gardiner in London, Birmingham, Munich, Hanover and Hamburg, Candide for his debut at the Opera di Roma, his first Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor with Minnesota Opera, Masaniello in Auber's La muette de Portici in Paris (Opéra Comique in co-production with La Monnaie in Brussels) and Berlioz' Requiem with John Eliot Gardiner at the St Denis Festival.
Among his numerous future engagements after the 2011–2012 season are the title role in Berlioz' La damnation de Faust at Vlaamse Opera, directed by Terry Gilliam, Missa solemnis and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 at the New York Carnegie Hall, in Orange County, Valencia and Madrid, also with John Eliot Gardiner, and Rodrigo in Rossini’s La donna del lago for his debut at Royal Opera Covent Garden in London in 2013.
Michael Spyres has recorded Rossini's La gazzetta, Otello and Le siège de Corinthe for Naxos. His first recital compact disc, including arias, by among others, Mozart, Donizetti, Verdi, Meyerbeer, Bizet and Puccini was released in 2011. Rossini’s Otello from Bad Wildbad will also be released on DVD.
Victoria Vargas (Alisa)
Mezzo-soprano Victoria Vargas recently completed her master of music degree from Manhattan School of Music, where she appeared as Euryclée in Fauré's Pénélope, and the Beggar and Mrs. Peachum in The Beggar's Opera. Other credits include Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro for Ash Lawn Opera and Martina Arroyo's Prelude to Performance; the Witch in Hansel and Gretel, the title role in Carmen and Dorabella in Così fan tutte for Hillman Opera; Madame Armfeldt in A Little Night Music for Lyric Arts International; and Miss Todd in The Old Maid and the Thief for Fredonia Opera Theater.
Ms. Vargas has been a young artist at Sarasota Opera and Chautauqua Operas, where she covered the role of Mamma Lucia in Cavalleria rusticana. At Chautauqua, she won the opera company’s Guild Studio Artist and Apprentice Artist Awards, performing Laura in Luisa Miller and the Second Lady in Die Zauberflöte. In 2011, she also received an encouragement award at the Metropolitan Opera district competition. As a Minnesota Opera Resident Artist, Ms. Vargas appeared as Tisbe in Cinderella, Anna in Mary Stuart, Flora in La traviata and Nelly in Wuthering Heights. This spring, she sings Alisa in Lucia di Lammermoor and Suzuki in Madame Butterfly and returns next season as Fenena in Nabucco and Smeton in Anna Bolena.
Leonardo Vordoni (conductor)
Originally from Trieste, Italy, the fast-rising conductor Leonardo Vordoni studied conducting at the Accademia Pescarese with Gilberto Serembe and earned a diploma in opera conducting at Bologna’s Reale Accademia Filarmonica.
Mr. Vordoni’s 2010–2011 season included three of Puccini’s greatest works: La bohème with Santa Fe Opera and Utah Opera, Tosca at Opera on the James and Turandot at Portland Opera. An important debut followed with La Cenerentola at the Canadian Opera Company, and engagements this season include Il barbiere di Siviglia at Houston Grand Opera and Lucia di Lammermoor at Minnesota Opera.
Leonardo Vordoni began the 2009–2010 season conducting Les pêcheurs de perles at Minnesota Opera, followed by a revival of Dominick Argento’s Casanova’s Homecoming. Later in the season, he made two consecutive debuts in Chicago – first conducting Le nozze di Figaro at Lyric Opera of Chicago followed by Rossini’s Mosè in Egitto at Chicago Opera Theatre. Of his performances in Le nozze di Figaro, John van Rhein at the Chicago Tribune wrote: “Mindful of the singers’ needs, he infused the orchestral playing with crisp vitality and shapely phrasing.” Regarding Mosè in Egitto Opera News raved: “Maestro Leonardo Vordoni led a splendidly nuanced reading of verve and melting grace.” Additional engagements included Il barbiere di Siviglia at Opera Colorado and Lucia di Lammermoor at Green Mountain Opera Festival.
In recent seasons, Mr. Vordoni debuted at the prestigious Wexford Opera Festival in Pedrotti’s Tutti in maschera giving what critics called a “scintillating performance.” Other productions include Don Pasquale at Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Madama Butterfly with Madison Opera and La Cenerentola at Orlando Opera. In the summer of 2008, Mr. Vordoni conducted at the internationally renowned Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro in a concert of music associated with Maria Malibran, with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato.
Leonardo Vordoni was a member of the music staff at the Metropolitan Opera and worked on productions including L’elisir d'amore (cover conductor), Macbeth, La traviata, Aida, La clemenza di Tito, La bohème, Un ballo in maschera, Norma and Madama Butterfly.
Collaborations with Edoardo Müller include L’italiana in Algeri with Seattle Opera, La Cenerentola for Houston Grand Opera, as well as Il trovatore and Le nozze di Figaro for San Diego Opera.
Leonardo Vordoni has given master classes in Italian repertoire for Young Artist Programs across the United States including: San Francisco Opera, Seattle Opera, Utah Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Kansas University, UMKC Conservatory, University of North Texas in conjunction with La Fenice in Castelfranco Veneto as well as coaching for the Accademia Rossiniana in Pesaro. Additional studies include piano at the Conservatorio Tartini with Neva Merlak and composition at the Accademia Musicale in Portogruaro with Mario Pagotto.
Ben Wager (Raimondo)
– performs March 3, 6, 8, 10
Ben Wager is a 2009 graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, where his roles included: Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Enrico in Anna Bolena, the title role in Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Sparafucile in Rigoletto, Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte and Padre Guardiano in La forza del destino.
Mr. Wager's 2011–2012 season includes dual appearances at Minnesota Opera, as General Audebert in the world premiere of Silent Night, and Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor. Additionally, he debuts with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra under Music Director Jacques Lacombe for a series of concerts and returns to the Oregon Symphony as the bass soloist in Haydn's The Creation under the baton of Carlos Kalmar . Future seasons will include a return to Opera Company of Philadelphia and a new production with Kentucky Opera.
During the 2010–2011 season, Ben Wager maintained a presence in both North American and European opera houses. In the United States, he made debuts with Opera Cleveland as Nourabad in Les pêcheurs de perles and the Dallas Opera as Masetto in Don Giovanni and returned to Minnesota Opera for the role of Hindley Earnshaw in Bernard Herrmann’s Wuthering Heights. As a member of the ensemble of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, which he joined in 2009, he sang Panthus in Les Troyens, Doctor Grenvil in La traviata, Angelotti in Tosca and Escamillo in Carmen, among other roles.
For the 2009–2010 season, Mr. Wager’s assignments at the Deutsche Oper included Zuniga in Carmen, Angelotti in Tosca, and Sarastro in an abridged version of Die Zauberflöte. Additional engagements for the season included Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Mozarteum of Salzburg under Ivor Bolton, Rossini’s Stabat mater with the Oregon Symphony led by Carlos Kalmar and his debut with the Los Angeles Opera as Julian Pinelli in Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten.
During the 2008–2009 season, he concluded his residency at the Academy of Vocal Arts as Enrico in Anna Bolena, Il Vescovo in La fiamma and Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, joined Minnesota Opera to sing the bass roles in the North American premiere of Jonathan Dove's The Adventures of Pinocchio and made his debut at Opera Company of Philadelphia as Collatinus in The Rape of Lucretia.
Mr. Wager spent the summer of 2008 as a member of the prestigious Merola Opera Program at San Francisco Opera, where he sang the role of Il Commendatore in Catherine Malfitano’s production of Don Giovanni.
Other notable engagements include Masetto in Don Giovanni for his debut at Chicago Opera Theater, under the baton of Jane Glover; Monterone in Rigoletto and Der Sprecher in Die Zauberflöte with Opera New Jersey; and appearances as Kaspar in Der Freischütz, Gremin and Zaretsky in Eugene Onegin, Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia and the bass soloist in Mozart’s Mass in C Minor with the Academy of Vocal Arts.
James Westman (Enrico)
– performs March 3, 6, 8, 10
Originally from Stratford, Ontario, James Westman has fast established himself as one of today’s leading young Verdi baritones, making Germont in La traviata his signature role throughout North America and Europe. A noted concert artist, Mr. Westman also likes to spend as much time as possible performing in concert as recital.
James Westman’s current projects include a return to the Minnesota Opera as Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor, concerts of Bramwell Tovey’s The Inventor (in which Mr. Westman sings the title role) with the Vancouver Symphony, a Christmas program with the Guelph Symphony and a recital with the Aldeburgh Connection in Toronto. Future plans include returns to the Canadian Opera Company and to the Calgary Opera.
This past season, Mr. Westman returned to the Montreal Opera for Nottingham in Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux, to the Calgary Opera for the title role in the world premiere of Bramwell Tovey’s The Inventor, Germont in La traviata for his debut with the Vancouver Opera and the bass soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Indianapolis Symphony.
In past seasons, James Westman appeared with the Canadian Opera Company, the Santa Fe Opera and Dallas Opera in performances of Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, as well as as Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Manitoba Opera. In addition, Mr. Westman made his role debut as the Count in Capriccio with Pacific Opera Victoria.
Other recent engagements included Mr. Westman’s debut as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, a return to Opera Lyra Ottawa as the Count in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro and the role of Edward Gaines in Margaret Garner, with Michigan Opera Theatre for performances in Detroit as well as in Chicago. Other additional new roles were Figaro in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia with the Minnesota Opera and Beaumarchais in Opera Theatre of St. Louis’ The Ghosts of Versailles.
James Westman’s recent opera projects included debuts with Opera Pacific as Marcello in La bohème, and with the Opéra de Bordeaux as Renato in Un ballo in maschera followed by returns to Boston Lyric Opera for Belcore in L’elisir d’amore and to the Opéra de Montreal for Sharpless in Madama Butterfly. In concert, Mr. Westman was heard in Fauré’s Requiem with the Florida Orchestra and in Handel’s Messiah with Grand Philharmonic Choir. Later in the season, James Westman made his second recording with Opera Rara: the title role in excerpts of Ricci’s Corrado d’Altamura.
James Westman’s 2006–2007 season opened with the baritone’s signature role, Germont, with the English National Opera for his London debut. Mr. Westman then returned to Dallas to sing a new role, Talbot in Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda, before joining the Opéra de Montréal for another new role, Frédéric in Lakmé. Mr. Westman went back to London for a commercial recording for Opera Rara and a concert performance of another Donizetti opera, the rare Imelda de’ Lambertazzi. James Westman returned to the Calgary Opera for Escamillo in Carmen and to one of his favorite companies, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, for Germont before making his debut with the Santa Fe Opera as Marcello in La bohème.
Other engagements include Mr. Westman’s Chevreuse in Donizetti’s Maria di Rohan at the Wexford Opera Festival, followed by a return to Opera Ontario for concerts of Opera Pops. An exciting project was Mr. Westman’s back-to-back productions with the Boston Lyric Opera: first his celebrated Germont in La traviata and then Athanaël in Thaïs. James Westman sang both Fauré and Duruflé’s Requiem Masses with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and was heard in December as the Bass Soloist in Messiah with the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. In August, he made his Chicago debut as the Bass Soloist in Dvorak’s Stabat mater at the Grant Park Music Festival. Future projects include returns to the Boston Lyric Opera, a debut with Opera Pacific and concerts with the Kitchener-Waterloo Philharmonic Choir.
Prior to that Mr. Westman returned to the Pittsburgh Opera in his most celebrated role, Germont. He made his debut with the Florida Grand Opera as Sharpless before returning to the Toronto Symphony for concerts of Handel’s Messiah. In the beginning of 2005, Mr. Westman sang his first Forester in Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen with Pacific Opera Victoria and returned to the San Diego Opera for another new role, Paolo in Simon Boccanegra. This was followed by his debut with the Houston Grand Opera as Ford in Falstaff. Finally, Mr. Westman ended the season with an exciting new role: Mountjoy in Britten’s rarely-performed Gloriana with Opera Theater of Saint Louis.
James Westman sang his first Silvio in I pagliacci with the San Francisco Opera and made debuts with the Dallas and San Diego Operas (both times with his signature role, Germont in La traviata). Other important debuts were with the Toronto Symphony and Sir Andrew Davis in Berlioz’ Roméo et Juliette, with the National Arts Centre for a program of arias and duets with Denyce Graves and with the Baltimore Symphony for the Messiah. With Michigan Opera Theatre, he debuted as Sharpless. His most recent appearances in Europe were for his first Posa in Verdi’s Don Carlo in Graz, Austria. The Canadian baritone returned to the Canadian Opera Company as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly and to Opera Theatre of St. Louis as Athanael in Massenet’s rarely heard Thaïs. He also made his debut with the Manitoba Opera as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte. In concert, Mr. Westman sang Messiah with the Kitchener-Waterloo Philharmonic Choir, Berlioz’ Roméo et Juliette with the Edmonton Symphony and Carmina burana with the Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst. A consummate recitalist, Mr. Westman appeared in Buffalo, New York under the auspices of the Marilyn Horne Foundation shortly after having taken part in their yearly Birthday Gala in New York City.
James Westman started his 2001–2002 season with his first Belcore in L’elisir d’amore with Opera Hamilton, which he followed with a gala concert appearance for the George London Foundation in New York. Immediately after that, he sang a solo recital in Toronto for the Aldeburgh Connection, performed the Messiah in Detroit and appeared in a televised concert with mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabo at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto. He reprised his Marcello for the Calgary Opera and sang Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor, successively in Pittsburgh and in Saint Louis. Mr. Westman also performed in recital in Bradford, Pennsylvania under the auspices of the Marilyn Horne Foundation.
Immediately following the summer of 2000 production of Falstaff at Tanglewood in which he sang his first Ford under Seiji Ozawa, James Westman made his European operatic debut as Germont in La traviata and Redburn in Billy Budd, both with the Cologne Opera. Other debuts included the Count in Le nozze di Figaro with the Fort Worth Opera and Bach's B Minor Mass with the Vancouver Symphony. James Westman returned to the San Francisco Opera as Germont and was heard in recital in Detroit, St. Paul, Minnesota and East Lansing, Michigan.
As a young singer, Mr. Westman’s roles with the Canadian Opera Company included the Messenger in Oedipus Rex, the Emperor in The Emperor of Atlantis, Joseph in L'enfance du Christ, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly and the Bass Soloist in Stravinsky's Pulcinella. Later on, he became an Adler Fellow at the San Francisco Opera, where his performances included: Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, Marcello in La bohème, Germont in La traviata, Renato in Un ballo in maschera and Sid in Albert Herring.
In 1995, Westman performed Purcell's The Fairy Queen under Jane Glover in Oxford and at the 50th Anniversary of the Aldeburgh Music Festival. In 1996, he sang the role of Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro under Maestro Jonathan Darlington at the Buxton Festival in Aldeburgh.
Formerly a successful boy treble, Mr. Westman toured with the American Boys Choir, the Paris Boys Choir and the Vienna Boys Choir. James Westman was the first boy ever to perform the fourth movement of Mahler's Symphony No. 4, and toured this work with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, East and West Germany and Russia.
Mr. Westman excels at and enjoys the recital repertoire and he has performed recitals for the Aldeburgh Connection, the Schwabacher recital series and the Marilyn Horne Foundation in New York. International competitions include the 1997 George London Competition, the Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques, as well as the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation.
James Westman has studied with such renowned artists as Dame Joan Sutherland, Richard Bonynge, Renato Capecchi, Paul Esswood, Régine Crespin, Warren Jones, Martin Katz, Virginia Zeani, Marlena Malas, and Diane Forlano. Mr. Westman was also a member of the C.O.C. Ensemble Studio and currently studies with Miss Patricia Kern.
In June 1999, James Westman was a finalist in the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition.
Hyung Yun (Enrico)
– performs March 4
A rising star on the operatic scene, Korean-American baritone Hyung Yun has performed on some of the most prestigious stages in the United States. With the Metropolitan Opera, he has sung Valentin in Faust under Maestro James Levine, Ping in Turandot, Lescaut in Manon with Renée Fleming in the title role and Silvio in I pagliacci. With Los Angeles Opera he made his debut as Angelotti in Tosca and returned to sing Marcello in La bohème, Micheletto Cibo in Die Gezeichneten and Lescaut in Manon with Rolando Villazon and Anna Netrebko under the baton of Plácido Domingo. He debuted as Ping in Turandot with the Santa Fe Opera and returned to sing in their 50th Anniversary Gala Concert.
Upcoming in the United States, Mr. Yun performs Ping in Turandot at the San Francisco Opera, Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor at the Minnesota Opera, the title role in Eugene Onegin at Madison Opera and Carmina burana with the Colorado Symphony. He also returns to his native Seoul, Korea as Germont in La traviata at the Seoul Metropolitan Opera and performs Belcore in L’elisir d’amore and Ford in Falstaff under Myunghoon Chung at the Korean National Opera.
Recent operatic engagements from the past two seasons include Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with the San Francisco Opera, Washington National Opera and Welsh National Opera, Valentin in Faust and Escamillo in Carmen with Madison Opera, Marcello in La bohème and Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor with Tulsa Opera, Marcello in La bohème with Minnesota Opera, Micheletto Cibo in Die Gezeichneten at the Los Angeles Opera and at the Seoul Metropolitan Opera, he performed Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, a David McVicar/Royal Opera House production.
During his tenure as a young artist at Washington National Opera, he sang the title role of Don Giovanni under the baton of Plácido Domingo, a Trojan Man and a Count Tomsky cover in Pique Dame, Dancaïro in Carmen, Lescaut cover in Manon Lescaut and Germont cover in La traviata. He returned a few seasons later as a guest artist to sing Marcello in La bohème.
Additional operatic highlights include Figaro in The Barber of Seville with the New York City Opera tour, Valentin in Faust at Palm Beach Opera, and Belcore in L’elisir d’amore with Bob Jones Opera. He sang the role of Marcello in La bohème with the Merola Young Artist Program at San Francisco Opera and Ford in Falstaff as part of the Tanglewood Festival Fellowship Program with Maestro Seiji Ozawa. As a young artist with the Santa Fe Opera, he sang the Jailor in Dialogue of the Carmelites, as well as covering Escamillo in Carmen and Altair in Strauss’ The Egyptian Helen. While at the Curtis Institute of Music, he covered Germont, Marcello, Figaro, Count and Rigoletto with the Opera Company of Philadelphia, as well as sang the roles of Johann, the Imperial Commissioner and Marullo.
In concert, he has sung Handel’s Messiah with Phoenix Symphony and in Seoul, Korea, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Tokyo City Symphony and Nielson’s Symphony No. 2 with Philadelphia Orchestra. Mr. Yun has been a recipient of a 2002 Sullivan Award, a Connecticut Opera Company Scholarship, a Santa Fe Opera Award of 1999 and 2001, and was a National Finalist in the 1996–1997 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He appeared as Melchior in BBC TV production of Amahl and the Night Visitors with Francesca Zambello and Patricia Racette. He also appeared in PBS TV Broadcast for Domingo and Friends with Washington Opera and in a Spanish National TV broadcast for the Concert for Deaf Children with Juan Pons, Marcello Giordani and Ruggiero Raimondi.
Scott Zielinski (original lighting designer)
Upcoming projects include Miss Fortune for Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Abigail’s Party for the National Theater of Norway in Oslo, Lear Dreaming for TheatreWorks Singapore and The Seagul for Festival d’Avignon at the Cour d’Honneur.
|In the wake of Rossini’s retirement and Bellini’s death only three days before its premiere, Lucia di Lammermoor is the work that catapulted Donizetti’s international recognition as a composer of first rank. Quickly staged in Vienna, Madrid, Paris, London, New Orleans and New York, Lucia has survived the test of time, and unlike many of its bel canto bretheren, has never fallen out of the standard repertory.
The novels of Sir Walter Scott were readily taken up by Romantic composers – in fact, he’s among the top ten authors whose novels have received operatic treatment. The Bride of Lammermoor had already been set several times before Donizetti got his hands on it. To condense the rather lengthy book into a usable form, he and his librettist, Salvadore Cammarano, likely used for guidance Michele Carafa’s opera, Le nozze di Lammermoor, which premiered in Paris just six years before. Carafa had reduced the character list substantially, a gesture Donizetti and Cammarano took further by telescoping Lucy Ashton’s mother, father, and two brothers into a single adversary, Enrico. Among the 20 or so others to go were Edgardo’s chattering, yet good-natured, valet, Caleb Balderstone, and Craigengelt, a not so well-intentioned sea captain, Bucklaw's ally with a hidden agenda. Normanno is retained (inspired by Norman the parksman), as is the good-hearted Reverend Bide-the-Bent (renamed Raimondo), and Frank Hayston, Lord of Bucklaw survives reasonably intact as Arturo. Blind Alice, an old hermitic woman with second sight and mystical ways, is turned into Alisa, Lucia’s rather opaque confidante. The story’s final moments had to be fixed as well. Edgar’s mysterious disappearance (presumably by quicksand) on his way to a duel with Lucy’s brother Sholto was transformed into a grand suicide scene at the tomb of the Ravenswoods, a bit more appropriate to the tastes of early 19th-century Neapolitans.
Forbidden desire, family rivalry and the death of two lovers seems reminiscent of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Yet, though the Bard was popular among Romantic writers, Scott’s tale was inspired by an actual event, the marriage of Janet Dalrymple and David Dunbar. The unfolding of their story is entrenched in the politics of the day. Seventeenth-century England and Scotland were embroiled in their own civil war over the question of faith. The face-off was within James II’s family, James being staunchly Catholic, his daughters being committed to Protestantism. Though each daughter ruled in turn as Mary II and Anne I, exiled descendants from James’ second marriage always posed a Catholic threat.
The political turmoil afforded the rise of one revolutionary, William Dalrymple, who through legal trickery and political opportunism acquired vast estates and a peerage. His wife, the notorious Dame Margaret Ross Dalrymple, was even more ambitious. To further improve their lot, she chose the perfect husband for her daughter. Unfortunately he was not the one she loved, a certain Lord Rutherford, who, though from solid stock, was regarded by mother Dalrymple as genetically inferior, and with strong Jacobite sympathies, yesterday's news. The couple secretly had pledged their fidelity by splitting a gold coin, a token the mother, in a heated argument with Rutherford, demanded to be returned upon Janet’s betrothal to Dunbar.
The incident of their wedding night is relayed in both novel and opera, yet there is a hint of mystery to the actual events. The couple was locked in the bridal chamber by the best man (as custom prescribed), but while the guests continued the party, commotion was heard from within. Inside was found a critically wounded Dunbar with Janet, cowering in the corner, supposedly howling “So you have tak’ your bonny bridegroom.” Dunbar survived his injuries (as he does in Scott’s novel) and amazingly remained with his bride for another two weeks, after which she died from her mental defect. He was tight-lipped about the whole affair, threatening to fight any man who dared broach the subject. It was suspected that Rutherford had somehow entered the bridal chamber and had executed the bloody deed himself.
Scott knew the story from his mother (also a Rutherford) was careful to change the names and move the locale. A major variant was to have Lucy’s lover, Edgar Ravenswood, be the sole survivor of a family ruined by her father. He also invented the event of their first meeting: she and her father are saved from a rushing bull by Edgar, then taken to the craggy remnants of his estate (a sparsely furnished tower on an ocean cliff, the very edge of his former Ravenswood estates) to escape a brewing storm. Edgar is still agitated about the dispossession of his family and his father’s dying wish to wreck havoc on the Ashtons, but his anger is somehow tempered by Lucy’s grace and beauty. Sir William warms to the young man, and events may have turned out for the better if it had not been for the mother, Lady Margaret Douglas Ashton, an especially shrewish woman. She dominates the novel in a singular plight to keep the lovers apart and to arrange a marriage of her choosing. Sadly, something of her daunting, imperious nature is lost in the composite character of the opera’s Enrico. Also lost is much of the novel’s gothic flavor, the macabre character of Old Alice (and later, her ghost), the three village hags, whose lunacy set the tone for Lucy’s eventual mental breakdown and the wispy disappearance of Edgar while riding on horseback to duel Lucy’s brother Sholto. Scott’s novel is chock full of gothic themes – persecution, disinheritance, ancestral curses – and though his descriptiveness borders on ponderous and overblown, his imagery is pregnant with meaning: the sexual innuendo inherent in Lucy’s encounter with the wild bull, the raven shot dead at Lucy’s feet (splattering her white dress with blood) moments after her secret betrothal to Edgar, a fountain-murder myth where a nymph is destroyed as a result of her lover’s lack of faith and the omnipresent fatalism of the three old women (presumably a reference to the fate-weaving Norns of Norse mythology as well as a nod to Shakespeare). Scott’s novel is a surprising example of feminine will, from the heady domination of Lady Ashton’s iron grasp over the family to Lucy’s ability to lash out with bloody vengeance when left with no other recourse.
Donizetti and Cammarano were still careful to include a few stylish elements – a ghostly presence, a storm, and of course, Lucia’s famously popular mad scene. Both works have that brooding flavor indigenous to Romanticism – darkly morose, rather unsympathetic individuals under the control of more sinister forces, who can do nothing but rant and rave, traits not found in the drama’s parallel journey as one of “star-crossed love.” Where Shakespeare offers his protagonists optimism and a plan for escape (though ultimately foiled by poor timing), there is no such hope for Lucia and Edgardo, their doleful path is trod by misery and madness to an especially horrific end.
Salvadore Cammarano and the Italian Romantic Libretto
Salvadore Cammarano was a key figure of the maturing Romantic period, continuing the bridge built by his predecessors from 18th-century opera seria to the full blown romantic melodrama of the primo ottocento (1800–1850). His career ran parallel to that of Gaetano Donizetti, Saverio Mercadante and Giovanni Pacini, and ended at the height of Giuseppe Verdi’s middle period. Having worked with all of these composers, he was a part of the fundamental changes being made in musical structure and dramatic conception in these works of the bel canto period.
Though the sterner side of Bel Canto grew out of opera seria of the previous century, the contrast between the two is pronounced. Opera seria typically involved a historical or mythical subject with its noble characters singing a rapid succession of arias, with virtually no ensembles, and nearly always with a happy ending. Castrati were featured in many of the principal roles, and most of the virtuosic music was allotted to them. As the century drew to a close, castrati were a dying breed, and economies of scale forced state-run opera companies to fuse their comic and serious troupes into one. Consequently, elements of comic opera found their way into serious works, with an emphasis on greater truth and a focus on more genuine characters through the incorporation of ensembles in introductions and finales. The restrained, carefully controlled and methodical shape of 18th-century libretti gave way to increased theatricality, which manifested itself into greater violence both on- and offstage (death in full view of the audience was taboo during most of the 18th century). Librettists were drawn to literature that spotlighted these conflicts, both of past eras, namely works of Shakespeare and Voltaire, as well as new trends in contemporary literature.
This focus on theatricality also required the evolution of the aria. In the 18th century, the “exit aria” typically was constructed in da capo form: melodic material is offered, contrasting material is then sung, followed by a reprise (and variation) of the first music. By the early 19th century the aria had been doubled and expanded into a cavatina, preceded by a scena, declamatory recitative or arioso setting up a particular situation, followed by a slower cantabile section given to contemplation. This is interrupted by a bridge passage, consisting dramatically of external news from another character or chorus, followed by a fast moving cabaletta, showing off great virtuosity and affirming the singer’s resolve. As heightened emotions became the focal point of these new trends, singers required greater and more varied expository situations in which to showcase their entire emotional palette.
Cammarano rose to the task, having theater in his blood. His grandfather Vincenzo was a successful actor of the commedia dell’arte variety – his Pulcinella typically brought the house down. Vincenzo’s son Filippo followed in his father’s footsteps, also portraying Pulcinella and becoming known for his translations of Carlo Goldoni’s plays and his own opera libretti. Another son and Salvadore’s father, Giuseppe, was a painter, talented enough to be engaged as a scenic designer, and by royal command, charged with decorating the interior of the new Teatro San Carlo, including the tempera on the ceiling that still exists today.
Salvadore honored his artistic family’s traditions, first as a painter, then as a writer. His plays won recognition in the 1820s, and by 1832 he had fallen into a fortuitous situation. His father used his influence at the San Carlo, Naples’ premiere theater, to get Salvadore hired as a concertatore, the approximate combination of the modern director and stage manager, at the Teatro San Carlo. This was a quick jump to the position of poeta concertatore, as librettists typically were required to stage the operas for which they wrote the text. At that time, the theater’s poet was also responsible for touching up existing libretti as well as supplying new ones and obtaining clearance from the censors, always a delicate issue in those days.
Cammarano was fortunate on two fronts. At that time Naples did not enjoy the talents of a singular quality librettist in the same manner as Milan had with Felice Romani (Bellini’s chief artistic partner) and Venice with Gaetano Rossi (of Semiramide fame, among others), thus competition was minimal. His second stroke of good luck was a collaboration with Gaetano Donizetti and their first work together, Lucia di Lammermoor. They were ideally suited to one another and went on to produce further works, most notably Roberto Devereux and Maria de Rudenz. It was with Donizetti that Cammarano found his true voice, and Lucia served as a perfect vehicle for his highly demonstrative inclinations. By this point, art and literature were firmly entrenched in the Romantic movement.
Immutably affixed to the operatic genre, Romanticism is a hazy concept to pin down by its very nature. Looking away from the rationality of 18th-century Enlightenment, the Romantic age looked inward to the irrational mind through the lens of imagination and with it, laid wake to the minefield of heightened emotion, melancholy, futility and madness. It also celebrated spontaneity, cultivation of artistic creativity, political independence and manifestations of a new consciousness with the tenuous hope of creating a new world. Romanticism is obsessed with moonlight, shadows and the supernatural, with dreams and sleepwalking, and with storms and peril. Man and Woman may be depicted at the mercy of overwhelming natural forces, with heroism appearing pointless, love seemingly impossible and an ideal union unrealizable this side of the grave. In this dark pale, protagonists are frustrated by their inability to act, often living on the edge of the law and society, but on the right side of justice.
Sir Walter Scott landed feet first amidst these new trends, influenced by his translations of Sturm und Drang (“Storm and Stress”) predecessors Schiller and Goethe (whose own Werther presaged the Romantic "Byronic Hero"). By the 1820s his own works were in translation around Europe and his monumental yet realistic characters made an easy transition onto the stage – many of his novels were turned into operas over and over again. Though his plotting may be suspect, he had a knack for minutely descriptive atmospheric settings drawn deep from Scotland’s violent past, clouded by mysterious and metaphysical occurrences.
Cammarano was intrigued by Scott’s elaborate settings (the librettist’s works were likewise detailed with intricate stage directions, a tendency that resulted from his early career as a painter), but his main attraction was the variety of strong situations the novelist presented and his penchant for the macabre. In fact, Scott’s flair for gothic horror only spurred the librettist’s tempestuous creativity even further. In the novel, characters dissipate rather nonchalantly – Lucy mutters only a few words in her delirium, Edgar simply vanishes into thin air, and Bucklaw, only wounded, won’t utter a single word about his frightful wedding night. Cammarano chose to heighten the dramatic effect by killing off Lucia’s bridegroom, and crafted a textually rich mad scene for Lucia, whose fragility gains an almost Ophelia-like spirituality. He masterfully writes a gripping suicide aria for Edgardo, turning all attention on him (rather than the heroine and title character) for the opera’s closing scene. New iconography made its way into the production values – the ruined gothic castle (Wolf’s Crag), the graveyard (Edgardo’s final scene), moonlight (at the well for Lucia’s ghostly visitation), the obligatory storm (for Enrico and Edgardo’s meeting at the top of Act III) and the presence of wild, uncontrollable natural forces (Lucia’s offstage encounter with the bull, cited but unseen in the opera).
The complexities of Romantic melodrama often required a fair amount of information before the curtain even rose – most of Cammarano’s contemporaries wrote substantial prefaces to their works whose plots began to push the limits of credibility. Cammarano was skillful enough to weave into his works everything the audience would need to know – his opening number for Lucia neatly relays the basic facts: the near ruin of her family, the imposed marriage, Lucia’s secret lover and how he saved her. Another fine example is Cammarano’s libretto for Verdi’s Il trovatore (1853), in which the rather convoluted events that precede the story are relayed in a concisely delivered tale told by a subsidiary character. Still, aspects of his story – the separation at birth of now-rival brothers and the throwing of the wrong baby into the execution bonfire – pushed the boundaries a bit. It may have been fortunate that Cammarano died just before finishing the libretto, for seeds of change were in the air. Verdi would demand greater dramatic truth in his later works, and Realism, with its pursuit of genre scenes and common people, had taken hold in the arts and would soon be explored operatically by Italian verismo and French composers of the latter part of the 19th century.
b Bergamo, November 29, 1797; d Bergamo, April 8, 1848
When it came time, Donizetti furthered his education at the Accademia Filarmonica in Bologna (shadowing Rossini, who had once studied there). He had already penned several short operas before receiving his first commission in 1818 from the Teatro San Luca in Venice – this was Enrico di Borgogna to a libretto by Bartolomeo Merelli. (In later years, as impresario of La Scala, Merelli was instrumental in the beginnings of Verdi's career.) Further works were produced in Venice, but Donizetti returned to Bergamo for a few years of relative inactivity. A letter of introduction from Mayr to poet Jacopo Ferretti led Donizetti to Rome, where in 1822 he would have his first unequivocal success, Zoraide di Grenata. His career was just getting started.
Later that year Donizetti settled in Naples and used it as a base for the next 16 years. He arrived just as Rossini was finishing his seven-year contract with the royal theaters. Like Rossini he had the ability to work at the increasingly rapid pace demanded by the Italian theater industry and was able to produce three to four operas a year for most of his life.
Many remain timeless gems. L'elisir d'amore (1832), La fille du régiment (1840) and Don Pasquale (1843) demonstrate his expert handling of lighter subjects. Lucrezia Borgia (1833), Gemma di Vergy (1834), Lucia di Lammermoor (1835), Maria de Rudenz (1838) and Maria Padilla (1841) display the composer's mastery of the Italian melodrama fueled by impassioned and unrestrained literature of the Romantic period. His influence on Verdi cannot be underestimated.
Donizetti's success in dealing with both comic and tragic settings was due in part to his own manic depressive personality. Well acquainted with personal misfortune, Donizetti lost in the span of eight years his mother, father, two infant sons, an infant daughter and Virginia Vasselli, his wife of seven years. He never truly recuperated after her death, locking the door to her room and refusing to utter her name again. His melancholia may have been induced by early symptoms of syphilis, which he contracted as a young man. It may have also been brought on by the responsibility he felt for harboring the disease that likely cost him his wife and children.
Donizetti made his Paris debut in 1835 with Marino Faliero at the Théâtre Italien and later premiered Les martyrs (1840) at the Paris Opéra. A French translation of Lucia made his name a household word, and in 1840 the composer captivated audiences with La favorite, which became hugely popular throughout Europe and North America. One of his very last works for the stage, Dom Sébastien (1843), was cast in the mold of French grand opéra and was extremely well-received.
The composer had hoped to assume Niccolò Zingarelli's post as director of the Naples Conservatory, but when the 85-year-old composer died in 1837, Donizetti's considerable musical contribution to the city was overlooked. Preference was given to a lesser composer, Saverio Mercadante, chiefly because he was a native Neapolitan. After his brief stint in Paris, Donizetti turned toward the Austrian state, where he became music director of the imperial theaters. Two of his final works had their premiere at Vienna's principal venue, the Kärntnertortheater: Linda di Chamounix (1842) and Maria di Rohan (1843). After the success of Linda, he was appointed Composer to the Austrian Court, a position Mozart had held a half century before.
By 1845, symptoms of his illness had become incapacitating, and his erratic behavior could no longer be excused by overwork. With his family's intervention Donizetti was placed in a French sanitarium at Ivry for 17 months, then transferred to a Paris apartment. There he was regularly visited by musicians and colleagues, including Verdi, but by this point he was paralyzed, disoriented and rarely spoke. In September 1847, friends arranged his return to Bergamo, where he passed his final days at the home of a wealthy patroness.