Opera Warhorses

An appreciation and analysis of the 'Standard Repertory' of opera

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Coast to Coast Selections of Donizetti and Early Verdi Opera Performances

April 25th, 2012

As noted in other postings in this “Quests and Anticipations” series, I prefer to segment the operas of the most famous 19th century Italian composers in a non-traditional way: (1) those of Rossini and Bellini, (2) those of Donizetti and early Verdi (i.e, those of the tw0 decades of Donizetti’s “Anna Bolena” and Verdi’s “Stiffelio”), and those of the mature Verdi (i.e.,”Rigoletto” and his later works.)  (The operas of other Italian composers including Ponchielli, Mascagni, Leoncavallo and Puccini, will be discussed at a later time.)

At the end of  2011, I posted a “Quests and Anticipations” feature – Donizetti and Early Verdi in the American West, January-June, 2012 – highlighting productions in Seattle, San Diego, Houston and San Francisco. As of the date of the current posting, the first performances of the runs of the latter two operas have not yet occurred, so those should be given consideration in addition to the group below.


Nabucco (Verdi), Washington National Opera, April 28, May 2, 5, 10, 13(m), 15, 18 and 21, 2012.

American Director Thaddeus Strassberger creates a new production of the opera that was Verdi’s first great success, that will debut at the Kennedy Center and then  later in the year will open the Minnesota Opera’s 2012-2013 season. Later it will be seen in at the Philadelphia Opera Company.

[Below: Nabucco (Carlo Vassallo, on dais) exhorts the Priests of Baal; edited image, based on a Scott Suchman photograph, courtesy of the Washington National Opera.]

The lead role of King Nebuchadnezzar (Nabucco) at Washington National Opera is assumed by Italian baritone Franco Vassallo, with one performance (May 15) assigned to South Korean baritone Leo An.The Hungarian soprano Csilla Boross is the Abigaille. American tenor Sean Pannikar is Ismaele and French mezzo Geraldine Chauvet the Fenena. Turkish Basso Burak Bilgili is the Zaccaria. Washington National Opera’s musical director, Philippe Auguin will conduct.

[For my performance review, see: Strassberger’s Verdi-Year “Nabucco” – Leo An, Csilla Boross Are Magnificent in Inventive Production – Washington National Opera, May 15, 2012.]


I Due Foscari (Verdi), Los Angeles Opera, September 15, 20, 23(m), 29, October 7(m) and 9, 2012.

Placido Domingo continues to explore the baritone repertory, taking on the role of Francesco Fiesco, Doge of Venice, in Verdi’s musical treatment of Lord Byron’s plsy about the lethal politics of 16th century Venice. A new production, like the Washington National Opera “Nabucco”, is the work of Thaddeus Strassberger.

[Below: Lucrecia Contarini (Marina Poplavskaya, right) pleads with her father-in-law, Doge Francesco Foscari (Placido Domingo, left) to acquit his son and her husband of the charge of treason; resized image, based on Lorenzo Bastiani’s portrait.]

Francesco’s son Jacopo will be performed by Francesco Meli in his Los Angeles Opera debut. The estimable Marina Poplavyskaya is the Lucrezia, and Ievgyn Orlov is the Pietro. James Conlon will conduct.

For my performance review, see: Domingo, Meli, Poplavskaya Shine in Strassberger’s Rousing Revival of Verdi’s “Two Foscari” – Los Angeles, September 15, 2012.


Anna Bolena (Donizetti), Washington National Opera, September 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, October 3 and 6, 2012.

Stephen Lawless’ Dallas Opera production of Donizetti’s first great success is the vehicle for Illinois soprano Sondra Radvanovsky.

[Below: Percy (Stephen Costello, left) in a gesture that will cost both of them their lives, offers support to Anna Bolena (Hasmik Papian, right); edited image, based on a Karen Almond photograph, courtesy of the Dallas Opera.]


Italian mezzo-soprano Sonia Ganassi plays Anna’s successor as Henry VIII’s queen, Giovanna Seymour. Tenor Shalva Mukeria (from the Republic of Georgia) is the Percy and Oren Gradus the Enrico VIII. Antonello Allemandi conducts.

[For my review of the Stephen Lawless’ production at the Dallas Opera, see: Donizetti Revival, Second Stage: Beautifully Sung “Anna Bolena” Completes Dallas Opera’s Tudor Trilogy – November 14, 2010.]

[For my performance review, see Radvanovsky’s Astonishing Anna Bolena Adorns An Admirable Cast – Washington National Opera, October 6, 2012.]


La Fille du Regiment (Donizetti), San Diego Opera, January 26, 29, February 1 and 3(m), 2013.

Emilio Sagi’s ebullient production moves the plot forward to 20th century France during World War Two, with Marie’s regiment comprised of Francophile American soldiers. Donizetti’s patriotic French numbers never seemed so relevant. L’ubica Vargicova takes on the title role with Stephen Costello in his role debut as Tonio.

[Below: Tonio (Stephen Costello, left) expresses his love to Marie (L’Ubica Vargicova, right); edited image, based on a J. Katarzyna Woronowicz photograph, courtesy of the San Diego Opera.]


Donato diStefano is Sergeant Sulpice, Ewa Podles is the Marquise, the French aristocrat who is to become an American army wife. The romp also provides a opportunity for a cameo appearance by the soprano Carol Vaness. Yves Abel is the conductor.

[For my performance review, see: Vargicova, Costello, Podles and Burdette Romp in Hilarious, Beautifully Sung “Fille du Regiment” – San Diego Opera, January 26, 2013.]


Tags: Quests and Anticipations