Opera Warhorses

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

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In Quest of the “Da Ponte” Mozart Operas – October 2014-March 2015

August 24th, 2014

This feature highlights selected performances of operas in Chicago, Houston, San Diego and Los Angeles that I am scheduled to review.


This list is supplementary to previous lists in this “Quests and Anticipations” series of selected operas being performed from September, 2014 through Summer, 2015.

The operas noted in the previous lists are Verdi’s “La Traviata” in Los Angeles [See Popular Opera Offerings in Southwestern Vacation Destinations – March-September, 2014]; 

Bellini’s “Norma” and Rossini’s “La Cenerentola” in San Francisco [See “Bel Canto” Italian Works in Toronto and the American Southwest – April-November, 2014];

Floyd’s “Susannah” at the San Francisco Opera and Corigliani’s “The Ghosts of  Versailles” at the Los Angeles Opera [See In Quest of Opera Company Performances of American Works – July 2014 to February 2015.].

Puccini’s “Tosca” and “La Boheme” at the San Francisco Opera and Puccini’s “La Boheme” at the San Diego Opera [See A Selection of Popular Puccini Opera Performances – July 2014-January 2015.]

Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas” and Bartok’s “Bluebeard’s Castle” at the Los Angeles Opera [See Anticipated Opera Operatic “Double Bills” in Santa Fe and Los Angeles – July-November, 2014.]

Richard Strauss’ “Capriccio” at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Handel’s “Partenope” at the San Francisco Opera and “Florencia en el Amazonas” at the Los Angeles Opera [See In Quest of Less Well-Known Operas – July-December, 2014].

Verdi’s “A Masked Ball” at the San Francisco Opera, “Otello” at the Houston Grand Opera, “Il Trovatore” at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and “Rigoletto” at the Santa Fe Opera [See In Quest of Popular Verdi Operas – October 2014 to Summer 2015.]


In my interview with Los Angeles Opera Music Director James Conlon [see  An Interview with Conductor James Conlon, Part 1 and An Interview with Conductor James Conlon, Part 2] Conlon stated that one of the advantages of becoming an opera company’s music director is that you can schedule yourself to conduct operas of Wagner and Richard Strauss and the three Mozart operas with Da Ponte libretti, works that many music directors reserve for themselves.

In a five-month period, beginning in late October, I am scheduled to review performances of all three Mozart-Da Ponte operas, with one of each opera being conducted by an opera company’s music diretor.

[Below: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; resized image of an historical photograph.]



Don Giovanni (Lyric Opera of Chicago), September 27, 30, October 2(m), 5(m), 8(m), 11, 14, 17, 24(m), and 29, 2014.

A new production of “Don Giovanni” opens Lyric’s 60th season. Mariusz Kwiecien is Giovanni, Kyle Ketelsen his sidekick Leporello and Ana Maria Martinez as the abandoned Donna Elvira. Donna Anna and Don Ottavio are respectively Marina Rebeka and Antonio Poli.

[Below: Don Giovanni (Mariusz Kwiecien, right) suggests to Zerlina (Andriana Churchman, left) how she should spend her wedding night, in the 2014 Robert Falls production of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni”‘ at the Lyric Opera of Chicago; edited image of a Todd Rosenberg photograph, courtesy of the Lyric Opera of Chicago.]


Lyric Opera’s music director, Sir Andrew Davis conducts. Robert Falls creates the new production’s staging.

[For my review of an earlier performance by Mariusz Kweicien, see: Kwiecien Excels in McVicar’s Dark Side “Don Giovanni” – S. F. June 2, 2007.]

[For my performance review, see: Review: Mariusz Kwiecien Excels in Robert Falls New “Don GIovanni” Production – Lyric Opera of Chicago, October 29, 2014.]


Cosi fan Tutte (Houston Grand Opera), October 31, November 2(m), 8, 13 and 15, 2014

The famous 1987 Gõran Järvefelt production of Mozart’s “Cosi fan Tutte” was part of the trio of productions of the three Mozar-daPonte operas created for the Houston Grand Opera.

As the men wagering that their lovers will be steadfast, the 2014 cast includes Norman Reinhardt as Ferrando and Jacques Imbrailo as Guglielmo. Their lovers who are tested are Rachel Willis Sorensen as Fiordiligi and Melody Moore as Dorabella. Conspiring to assure the two women will fail the test are Alessandro Corbelli as Don Alfonso and Nuccia Focile as Despina.

[Below:Don Alfonso (Alessandro Corbelli, second from left) conspires with Despina (Nuccia Focile, left) to bring the lovers Guglielmo (Jacques Imbrailo, front, second from right) and Ferrando (Norman Reinhardt, center, right) as the sisters Dorabella (Melody Moore, background, in shadows, left) and Fiodiligi (Rachel Willis-Sorensen, background, in shadows, right) wonder what to do; edited image, based on a Lynn Lane photograph, courtesy of the Houston Grand Opera.]


The sets are by Carl-Friedrich Oberle. The director is Harry Silverstein, who  was associated with the production from its beginning. Houston Grand Opera’s music director Patrick Summers conducts.

[For my performance review, see: Review: Classy Cast in Classic “Cosi fan Tutte” – Houston Grand Opera, October 31, 2014.]


Don Giovanni (San Diego Opera), February 14, 17, 20 and 22, 2015.

Whether deliberate or not, heartthrob Ildebrando d’Arcangelo’s San Diego Opera debut is taking place as Don Giovanni on Valentine’s Day(!) The Don Juan character spends his last mortal day on earth either pursuing women (Ellie Dehn’s Donna Anna and the to-be-announced Zerlina) or trying to avoid a past conquest (Myrtò Papatanasiu’s Donna Elvira).

[Below: A defiant Don Giovanni (Ildebrando D’Arcangelo, left) has no intention of changes his ways to appease the ghose of the Commendatore (Reinhard Hagen, right); edited image, based on a Cory Weaver photograph, courtesy of the San Diego Opera.]


Alex Esposito is Leporello, Paul Appleby is Don Ottavio, Kristopher Irmiter is Masetto. Reinhard Hagen is the Commendatore, Daniele Callegari conducts.

[For my review of an earlier performance by Ildebrando d’Arcangelo, see: Ildebrando D’Arcangelo’s Roguish Libertine, James Conlon’s Impressive Conducting, in Insightful “Don Giovanni” – Los Angeles Opera, September 22, 2012.]

[For my performance review, see: Review: Ildebrando D’Arcangelo Leads Strong “Don Giovanni” Cast – San Diego Opera, February 14, 2015.]


The Marriage of Figaro – Le Nozze di Figaro (Los Angeles Opera), March 21, 26, 29(m), April 4, 9 and 12(m), 2015

Los Angeles Opera’s music director James Conlon conducts the Ian Judge production of “Marriage of Figaro”, the only one of the three Da Ponte operas Conlon has yet to conduct in Los Angeles.

Roberto Tagliavini makes his Los Angeles debut as Figaro, with Pretty Yende as Susanna, his betrothed. The noble Almavivas are sung by Guanqun Yu as the Countess and Ryan McKinny as the Count.

[Below: Cherubino (Renee Napier, left) is distressed to leave the Countess (Guanqun Yu, right); edited image, based on a Craig T. Mathews photograph, courtesy of the Los Angeles Opera.]


Renee Rapier is Cherubino. Figaro’s parents, Don Bartolo and Marcellina, are respectively Kristinn Sigmundsson and Lucy Schaufer. Robert Brubaker is Don Basilio and Joel Sorensen Don Curzio. Tim Goodchild created the scenery, Desiree Clancy the costumes.

 [For my performance review, see: Review: New Faces for “Marriage of Figaro” – Los Angeles Opera, March 21, 2015.]

Tags: Quests and Anticipations