Opera Warhorses

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

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In Quest of Italian Opera Core Repertory Masterpieces in the American Southwest, January, June 2014

November 28th, 2013

This feature highlights selected performances of Italian Operas in Texas and California during January and June 2014, each of which I am scheduled to attend and review.

This supplements other lists of highlighted performances in these states during early 2014, including Italian Opera masterpieces of Donizetti at San Diego Opera and Los Angeles Opera [See Coast to Coast Selections of Donizetti Operas – Mid-October 2013 to Mid-March 2014] and of Rossini at Lyric Opera of Chicago [See In Quest of Rossini and Bellini – September 2013 to February 2014.]


Rigoletto (Verdi), Houston Grand Opera, January 24, 26(m), 29, February 1, 7 and 9(m), 2014.

Conductor Patrick Summers, Houston Grand Opera’s music director, presides over the role debut of dramatic baritone Ryan McKinny as Rigoletto.

Stephen Costello is the Duke of Mantua and Elizabeth Zharoff is Gilda.

[Below: Stephen Costello, left, is the Duke of Mantua with Ryan McKinny, right, as Rigoletto; edited image, based on a Lynn Lane photograph for the Houston Grand Opera.]


Carolyn Sproule is Maddalena and Dmitry Belosselskiy is Sparafucile.

Harry Silverstein is the stage director. The sets are by Michael Yeargan with Peter J. Hall-designed costumes.

For my interview with Ryan McKinny, see Rising Stars: An Interview with Ryan McKinny.

For my interview with Stephen Costello, see Rising Stars: An Interview with Stephen Costello, Part 1 and Rising Stars: An Interview with Stephen Costello, Part 2.

[For my performance review, see:  Dramatic, lyrical and powerful: Ryan McKinny’s Rigoletto Role Debut – Houston Grand Opera, January 24, 2014.]


I Pagliacci (Leoncavallo), San Diego Opera, January 25, 28, 31 and February 2(m), 2014. 

Dramatic tenor Frank Porretta is the jealous Canio, and Adina Nitescu as his wife Nedda, who seeks to escape an emotionally abusive relationship

[Below: Frank Porretta (left) demands that Nedda (Adina Nitescu, center) tell him the name of her lover, while Tonio (Stephen Power, right) looks on; edited image of a Cory Weaver photograph for the San Diego Opera.]


Stephen Powell is cast as the troublemaker Tonio.  David Adam Moore is Silvio, Nedda’s doomed lover. Yves Abel conducts.

For a previous review of the John Coyne production, see: Cura, Futral Shine in New San Diego Opera “Pagliacci” – March 22, 2008.

[For my performance review, see: Much to Like in San Diego Opera’s “I Pagliacci” – January 28, 2014.]


 La Traviata (Verdi), San Francisco Opera, June 11, 14, 17, 20, 25, 29(m), July 5, 8, 11 and 13(m), 2014      

Three different combinations of the three principal singers are scheduled by the San Francisco Opera.

Sonya Yoncheva, Saimir Pirgu and Vladimir Stoyanov appear together June 11 and again on June 14, 25 and 29.

[Below: Nicole Cabell as Violetta with Saimir Pirgu as Alfredo; edited image of  a Cory Weaver photograph, courtesy of the San Francisco Opera.]


Yoncheva and Stoyanov sing together with Stephen Costello on June 17 and 20, all conducted by Nicola Luisotti.

On June 5, Costello joins his wife Ailyn Perez and Quinn Kelsey on July 5, 8, 11 and 13, conducted by Giuseppe Finzi.

For my review of a previous performance by Vladimir Stoyanov, see: Power Verdi: Stoyanov, Valayre Mesmerizing in Berlin Staatsoper “Macbeth” – April 24, 2009

For my interview with Saimir Pirgu, see: Rising Stars: An Interview with Saimir Pirgu.

For my interview with Ailyn Perez, see: Rising Stars – An Interview with Ailyn Perez, part 1 and Rising Stars – An Interview with Ailyn Perez, part 2.

For my interview with Quinn Kelsey, see: Rising Stars: An Interview With Quinn Kelsey.

[For my performance review, see: Luisotti Leads Triumphant “Traviata” Starring Cabell and Pirgu – San Francisco Opera, June s, 2014 and Review: San Francisco Opera’s Pérez, Costello, Kelsey Lineup Leads to High Scoring “Traviata” – July 5, 2014.]


Madama Butterfly (Puccini), San Francisco Opera, June 15(m), 18, 21, 24, 27, July 3, 6 and 9, 2014. 

Nicola Luisotti conducts six performances and Giuseppe Finzi two of Jun Kaneko’s production of Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly”.

[Below: Patricia Racette as Cio-Cio-San and Brian Jagde as Pinkerton in a scene from the Jun Kaneko production of “Madama Butterfly”‘ edited image, based on a Cory Weaver photograph, courtesy of the San Francisco Opera.]


All performances are sung by Patricia Racette as Cio-Cio San, Brian Jagde as Lieutenant Pinkerton, Elizabeth DeShong as Suzuki and Brian Mulligan as Sharpless.

For my reviews of recent performances by Patricia Racette, see: World Treasure: Carsen’s Magnificent “Mefistofele” Returns to San Francisco Opera – September 6, 2013 and World Premiere Review: Patricia Racette’s Gritty “Dolores Claiborne” at San Francisco Opera – September 18, 2013

For my review of a previous performance by Brian Jagde, see: Echalaz, Jagde, Aceto Open Santa Fe Opera Season in Wonderfully Sung “Tosca” – June 29, 2012.

For my interview with Nicola Luisotti, see: A Maestro of Music and Metaphor: An Interview with Nicola Luisotti.

For my interview with Brian Mulligan, see: Rising Stars: An Interview with Brian Mulligan.

[For my performance review, see: House of Puccini: Jun Kaneko’s Enchanting “Madama Butterfly” Soars at War Memorial – San Francisco Opera, June 15, 2014.]

Tags: Quests and Anticipations