Tuesday, May 24, 2016
WNO’s first complete Ring Cycle continued Monday evening with a revamped version of the Die Walküre first seen at the Kennedy Center in 2007. The evening was to feature British soprano Catherine Foster, recently the Brunnhilde in that Soviet gangster energy politics Ring at Bayreuth. Unfortunately, she injured her ankle during a dress rehearsal last week and had to withdraw from Monday’s performance. On the other hand, her extremely luxurious cover turned out to be none other than Christine Goerke. Goerke, like some kind of opera version of Harvey Keitel’s fixer character from Pulp Fiction, posted on Facebook that when she is within four hours of a Ring cycle she keeps her scores close, then swooped in for the save. Arriving late Sunday, she was ready to go for a 6 PM showtime Monday, turning what was already a fairly legit event into an event that found Wagner lovers up and down the east coast doing the math on how long it would take them to get to DC. But more on Goerke later. Concept-wise, the first act of Zambello’s Die Walküre remains the most inspired. Relatively unchanged from its initial incarnation, Hunding’s hut is presented as a 1950s nightmare of domesticity, replete with cheap wooden paneling and hunting trophies. Hunding is a reactionary tough, quick to violence when he feels his rightful claim over Sieglinde as his sexual property is under attack. Naturally his suspicion is aroused by sensitive drifter Siegmund, who is automatically guilty of not occupying a clear place in the social-sexual institutions Hunding needs to preserve his status. The twin’s romance plays as a sweet repudiation of Hunding’s world, their long duet staged as a heady all-night conversation of self-discovery. The tree and portions of the hunting lodge fly away during the ecstatic final music, until the lovers are left on an almost bare stage against a brilliant morning sky. The treatment of the first half of Act 2 is perhaps the first point in this renewed cycle that seems a bit lost for ideas. This Ring is most successful when it creates a space that, while constructed with recognizable materials, is still clearly a fantasy world with the capacity for playfulness and unexpected possibilities. The Act 2 boardroom with Wotan as master of the universe, Fricka as his society wife, and Brunnhilde as street-smart daughter feels a bit too literal and we miss some of the imaginative touches that make other parts of this Ring memorable. The second, half-dramatizing Siegmund and Sieglinde’s flight and the battle with Hunding, is better, the outcast lovers strewn amidst the refuse of a highway underpass. This most lonesome of urban images (which I believe popped up in Tankred Dorst’s Bayreuth Ring production around the same time) nicely depicts just how viciously society despises the siblings for their transgression, and how distant the hope of that first spring night must now seem in their wretched position. Act III goes in a more abstract/generic direction than the rest of the evening, introducing a sort of decommissioned World War II pillbox for Brunnhilde’s rock. The military theme is the jumping off point for the big Valkyrie set piece, with Wotan’s daughters parachuting in at the back of the stage. In the original version, I’m pretty sure everyone just ran on, but regardless this is a great effect and a nice way to give the audience a “wow” piece of stagecraft without upstaging the Valkyrie chorus, which is after all plenty exciting on its own (as opposed to, say, having them constantly bobbing around on enormous metal planks). Since it doesn’t make a lot of sense for paratroopers to be talking about their steeds, the Valkyries’ extensive discussion of horse management tips has been duly scrubbed for the supertitle translations. As they did in the original show, the Valkyries carry their “heroes” around in the form of large black and white photos (the pictures are actual photographs of military veterans), which they affix to trellises full of these faces—the Valhalla national reserve. A valiant attempt to somehow show onstage what the Valkyries are singing about, but if this felt clumsy in 2007, it now feels both clumsy and hopelessly “2007.” But the real fireworks in Act III take place after everyone has parachuted away. The staging of the final scene of this Walküre came together with outstanding dramatic and musical commitment from all involved to present what is certainly the most emotionally intense Act III I have personally seen live, a reminder of the cathartic power this work wields in the right hands and how often productions stop short of its full impact. As with Rheingold, WNO has put together a very consistent cast. Christopher Ventris, most familiar to DC audiences for leading WNO’s well-received production of Peter Grimes several years back, kicks things off with a highly charismatic Siegmund. His urgent timbre evokes shades of Domingo’s Siegmund, creating impatient excitement in each line and never letting his spinning tone slacken. The sound can grow a bit pinched and colorless at the top, however, making the “Wälse” cries and other climaxes, while fervently sung, less of an attraction here. Meagan Miller brought a passionate commitment to Sieglinde, eliciting pity both as a young suffering housewife and later as a bedraggled Schwester und Braut. She delivers an attractive, rounded sound throughout the middle range, though the vibrato widens past the pleasant point when adding volume in higher lying passages. Her not-so-secret weapons are top notes of remarkable size and penetrating power that she brought to bear with thrilling effect in Sieglinde’s big moments, even if she didn’t always nail the center of the pitch. Elizabeth Bishop’s canny Fricka returned here for a very engaging ram-chariot scene, producing a warm, generous tone in her earnest appeals to Wotan’s sense of duty. Raymond Aceto played his randy thug of a Hunding with gusto, his malleable bass another younger sounding low-voice well-suited to this production, though lacking the black colors that can set Hunding apart. The entry-level appeal of Goerke’s Brunnhilde is not rocket science. Right now she is simply one of few singers around who offers the chance to hear this glorious music sung with a full, uncompromisingly beautiful sound. The middle register is a plush dream, pouring out waves of cool, beguiling tone, while Monday night she also showed off some lower notes to be reckoned with. True, she can be a bit more careful with the top, pulling off the volume just a bit to ensure she gets the right consistency, but the result is a full buttery sound thrillingly true to the page. After successfully executing what are surely some of the best Hojotoho’s in the game right now, she seemed to be reserving herself a bit with Siegmund, getting lost in the orchestra here and there, though building to a blazing final exchange. She found herself a bit short on breath in some of the Valkyrie banter (the very busy blocking in this scene, which she learned that afternoon I suppose, involves Brunnhilde running up and down a lot of stairs and ramps), but had fully recovered in time for an exhilarating Sieglinde pep talk. The depth of her reading has clearly grown since the Brunnhilde I saw in Houston last year. This was especially evident in a riveting “Weil für dich im Auge” monologue (and in case you are wondering, no, I will never forgive the lady who made me trade her my aisle seat and then unwrapped some infernal piece of food in the middle of it), though she came to grief in that treacherous closing bit (“Der diese Liebe…”), undershooting the pitch. The increasingly frantic pleas to Wotan in the final bars of her music went from strength to strength and she brought Brunnhilde’s desperate frustration into vivid focus. Alan Held followed up the unique sense of vocal drama he brought to Saturday’s Rheingold with a devastating portrait of Wotan in crisis. At the risk of stating the obvious, Wotan is not a good dad. He is fundamentally unable to conceive of his children as people separate from his own desires, yet they represent his only chance at redemptive human connection. Even when Wotan is cradling Siegmund’s lifeless body, a poignant gesture here, it is an act of self-pity as much as anything else. Where many singers play this as simple variations on “Wotan is gloomy,” Held takes it to the logical conclusion and gives us a truly appalling, viscerally unlikeable character. He matched this with a vocal performance of impressive stamina, delivering menacing authority in Wotan’s big scenes and as well as a constantly searching intelligence in quieter moments. Listening to his engaging, masterful reading of Wotan’s Act II monologue it’s hard to remember why this section has gained such notoriety as a slog. While he hit a few barky patches keeping the volume up in some of the more unforgiving passages, things always returned to a more focused place. And after all the ruckus of Act II and the Act III opening, for the finale with Brunnhilde he seamlessly switched gears to give us exquisite piano singing in a “Der Augen leuchtendes Paar” that wrecked the audience. Yes, there are prettier Wotans out there, but you would have been hard pressed to find any takers given the immediacy of the drama Held was able to create here. Philippe Auguin’s strong work in Rheingold on Saturday was clearly only an inkling of what he and this band can do with Wagner’s music. Auguin was on fire here from start to finish, with a reading that managed to never feel rushed while maintaining a thrilling, constant momentum. He does not go in for milking the score, preferring to choose his battles carefully, but when he does highlight something, like the crashing chords leading up to “Leb Wohl,” the effect is tremendous. Detail work in the orchestra was especially fine, from plaintive wind choruses in Acts II and III and gentle, tightly controlled playing in the horns. One continued to notice welcome improvements to the production, especially the improved look of the Valkyrie entrance and gorgeous shadowy lighting (Michael McCullough) in the highway scene (though I could have used a hair less rainbow everything during Brunnhilde’s description of Valhalla’s amenities). However, after I said such nice things about some of the revised transitional projections in Rheingold, I’m afraid some of the unfortunate Walküre projections are still with us. Siegmund’s various flights are still accompanied by a POV video of someone running through the woods (suspected to be Rock Creek Park in the original, I’m now seeing some redwoods, so it’s possible someone actually took the time to redo this bad idea), while the highway scene is introduced by actual aerial footage of highways! These are a relatively minor distraction, but still a noticeable misstep in an otherwise increasingly slick presentation. Photos: Scott Suchman
This past Wednesday’s Die Walkure added Nina Stemme, fresh off her widely praised New York appearances in Elektra, to WNO’s Ring Cycle line-up, putting DC in the enviable position of getting to compare three very strong but very different Brunnhilde’s in as many weeks. So far we have seen Christine Goerke’s sensitive and emotionally vulnerable Brunnhilde, wrapped up in a gorgeous plush sound. Catherine Foster’s Cycle II Brunnhilde was somewhat lackluster and dramatically inert, but her brilliant silvery top notes delivered reliable thrills, especially in the climax of Siegfried and the heavy artillery demands of Gotterdammerung. Now we have Stemme’s intense Vaklyrie--a driven servant who enters the opera with little trace of the mortal woman she is to become. In this Brunnhilde’s Act II crisis, we witness a woman suffering a violent break with the person she thought she was, an echo of Wotan’s own crippling moment of introspection so memorably brought out by Alan Held in this Rheingold (gods take this stuff hard). As Stemme goes to carry out Siegmund’s sentence, we see her doubled over in physical pain at the contradiction she must enforce. The Act III dialogue is a grinding slog of self-discovery, Brunnhilde groping tentatively towards the understanding that her fate has been separated from Wotan’s forever. Stemme brings the character to life through a stunning vocal performance. If one had to bucket the Brunnhildes we’ve heard this month, Stemme and Foster share a similar, more traditionally penetrating timbre than Goerke’s unique creamy sound. But Stemme sets herself apart with a brilliant technicolor depth at the top of her range and a bevy of delicately shaded dynamics. Though she seemed a bit tentative at first in connecting to the top of the voice, she quickly overcame these obstacles to deliver a vital and complete portrayal. After struggling with allergies last week, Held came roaring back to form with a definitive run of his flawed, domineering Wotan. Auguin allowed the Act II monologue to marinate more than he has on previous evenings, and Held followed suit, with a dynamic reading that pushed the boundaries of what this sequence can achieve. My Ring newbie seatmate was especially impressed with this at the intermission, and was duly horrified when I shared that the LePage production pairs this (potentially) brilliant piece of vocal theater with a cartoon. By the end of the scene, Held has created a toxic mix of frustration, self-pity and resentment that is oppressive in its intensity, the deity version of a William H. Macy character who knows the jig is up. If at times this commitment pushed his sound to its limits, he held onto control throughout and turned in a moving final scene with Stemme. See for instance, the section that begins “So leicht wähntest du/Wonne des Herzens erworben…” where Wotan briefly sympathizes with Brunnhilde’s first taste of love, before scolding her for enjoying what has only brought bitterness to his life. Held vividly illustrates this short passage by incrementally shifting the color of his voice from a melting mezza voce to a brassy snarl as he turns on his daughter. Meagan Miller’s final Sieglinde was also her best. “Du bist der Lenz” was ardently felt, the final bars spun with a sumptuous legato line, while Act II reached a new level of disconsolate frenzy. Her sound may fall short on the easy beauty that one expects of the best Sieglinde’s, but she wields that sound with the abandon needed for a fully satisfying assumption. If one could patch together a Walkure supercut from the last few weeks, I would pair Miller’s final Sieglinde with Ventris’ seamless performance in Cycle II. After his steady contributions in previous weeks, it was a surprise to find him sounding somewhat vocally tired in the final show. He also seemed to have trouble syncing up with Auguin, who may have wanted to add some extra final night juice and couldn’t get on the same page with Ventris, though these issues were only a mild distraction from an exciting Act I finale. For the last outing, Auguin put forward perhaps his most exquisite Act I ending yet, with a shuddering, serotonin flooding climax at the drawing of Nothung (slightly worried what’s going to happen if I stop getting this weekly dosage and the weather stays so depressing). Raymond Aceto had a strong final night realizing the production’s particularly sadistic take on Hunding, while Elizabeth Bishop scored an impressive triumph in her final traversal as Fricka. Bishop left the proverbial blood on the floor in her scene Wednesday; some of the cutesier directorial touches ended up looking very petty indeed next to the majesty with which she imbued the scene. In my review of the Cycle I Walkure I criminally omitted a discussion of the Walkuren themselves (though others most certainly did not), but the strong WNO lineup deserves further mention. Spurred on by driving tempi in the pit, this cast delivers a high-octane start to Act III that rightly outshines the fun staging with the parachuting Valkyries. Standouts include rich, high volume Hojotoho’s from Lori Phillips’ Gerhilde (who makes clear in a few measures that she is also covering Brunnhilde for this run); the warm urgent mezzo of Domingo Cafritz young artist Daryl Freedman; and this production’s Erda, Lindsey Ammann, whose spectacular low notes make for an instantly memorable Schwertleite (quick someone do a list of biggest names to play Schwertleite). The updated version of this production continues to reward in many ways. This time I was particularly struck by the care with which Zambello has choreographed blocking beats to take advantage of the music, some surely inspired by the original stage directions. Churning music in the opening prior to Siegmund’s entrance is set to Sieglinde staring mournfully from the screen door of her hut; a suddenly quiet mournful passage near the end Act II provides an opportunity for Wotan to cradle the dying Siegmund; the several bars of tonally ambiguous transition music leading into the magic fire music catches Wotan bereft and alone in a cold spotlight against the back of the stage; and so on. I still object to those blasted transitional projections, though, and have finally put my finger on what that “flight of Siegmund through Rock Creek Park” projection looks like, i.e., a budget karaoke background for Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf.”
“For 3½ years, Michael Heaston, 37, has been an artistic power behind the throne at the Washington National Opera, running the Domingo-Cafritz program and the American Opera Initiative … As of this month, he has started in an advisory capacity as executive director of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, and will take over the position full time Aug. 29.”
When Francesca Zambello’s production of Das Rheingold opened in DC a decade ago I was not a fan. Glibly described as an “American” or “environmental” Ring, it seemed poised to buckle under the weight of its own self-importance. If the actual production offered more than the elevator pitch implied, it still felt overly invested in shoehorning the Ring into some bigger scheme for dubious purposes, an exercise which would quickly grew tedious in practice. Happily, this Rheingold, which returned to the Kennedy Center Saturday night to open the first of three complete cycles, has been shorn of its clumsier gestures. What’s left is a taut, character-driven production that wields its referential material with care, giving us a manageable set of core images that keep the dramatic and intellectual machinery of Das Rheingold buzzing. While Zambello’s productions can be hit or miss (I’m still smarting over that Ariadne at Glimmerglass two years ago) she is surely in her element here, presiding over a cohesive, well-constructed drama tinged with playful irreverence. The key device of this production, as anyone with Internet access has probably gathered by now, is a vaguely gilded age/Gatsby-ish treatment for Wotan and his crew. That’s a reasonable enough place to plop the Ring gods in American history, but the 30,000 foot reading isn’t the interesting thing here. Rather, it’s how Zambello scours that basic idea for illuminating dramatic tidbits that help to tell a richer story about the characters. The world of early 20th century idle rich exuberance nicely telegraphs the deities’ anxious mix of desperation and entitlement, their elegance a thin veil separating them from Alberich’s grubby climbing in the zero-sum political economy of the Ring’s fantasy world. That pervading air of entitlement also raises the stakes for the gods’ clash with workmen Fasolt and Fafner, adding an easily recognizable element of class contempt to Wotan’s willingness to cheat the giants. Prep school jerks Donner and Froh aren’t just motivated by protecting Freia’s honor; their disdain for the giants is wrapped up in their need to disguise protecting their status with the defense of noble virtues. And so on. The tighter focus in this iteration is also evident in what got left out when the production was revisited for its presentation in San Francisco in 2011. Fraught symbols that added little to an understanding of the drama have been wisely revised, from small heavy-handed details (the rhinegold itself is now merely pretty sheet of gold lamé instead of a gilded homespun quilt) to major distractions (Erda’s ill-advised full-bore “American Indian” getup has been throttled back to something neutral from Anthropologie’s summer clearance rack). Even the famous Old West Rheingold opening, which I’ve enjoyed snarking about for a decade, is subtly effective now. Alberich is still a prospector—again, not terribly interesting for any novel insights about American history. But in the less cluttered telling this choice becomes more interesting for what it insinuates about Alberich’s character—far from a base, idle dwarf, the prospector figure denotes grit and perseverance, a harbinger of the challenge he will eventually pose to Wotan. WNO has fielded a strong ensemble for this cycle, featuring many familiar faces from the original productions. Alan Held’s intimidating baritone is an ideal vehicle for his maniacally confident Wotan, easily cutting through the orchestra with vivid attention to the text. While his has never been the prettiest sound, and we’ll see how he fares in the more lyrical demands of Die Walküre, this is a profoundly satisfying marriage of voice and character. Wotan’s great moment of disillusionment after he relinquishes the ring is shattering in Held’s portrayal—an agonizing first brush with self-doubt for the cocky deity. Elizabeth Bishop, also a return player, easily charms the audience as exasperated matron Fricka, gamely shouldering much of the comedy that Zambello wrings from the hectic family scenes. Though clear and authoritative, her soprano sounded perhaps a bit thinner relative to previous hearings. Froh and Donner make the most of their turns as spoiled sons of the elite, though neither makes the vocal impact sometimes possible in these roles (speaking of, see Held’s totally 80s Donner in the old Schenk vid ). Melody Moore rounds out the clan, settling into a warm, womanly sound for Freia. Moore has a unique assignment in this production—Freia returns from her time in Risenheim having fallen for captor Fasolt, and must genuinely mourn his murder by Fafner. I’m not totally sold on this, though the rich-girl-gone-bad trope works in the context of the production and Moore played it effectively despite very little text to work with. Gordon Hawkins is back from the initial run as well, his towering portrayal of Alberich every bit Das Rheingold’s shriveled heart. His resonant, slightly acidic bass-baritone serves as a terrifying vehicle for Alberich’s resentful conviction, though, while always committed dramatically, he doesn’t quite achieve that level of additional vocal interest needed to elevate the long stretch of Alberich’s Scene 4 monologue. The most surprising turn of the evening was Robert Burden in his role debut as Loge. Burden’s light expressive tenor easily brought out the beauty in Loge’s music, crowning an intelligent and highly watchable reading of the demigod as canny peacetime consigliere. Solomon Howard, a former Domingo-Cafritz young artist who has distinguished himself in a number of company assignments this year (including last fall’s Appomattox), made a solid role debut as Fafner, while Brit Julian Close’s flexible bass was well-suited to an ardent Fasolt. Clad in head to toe denim, Edward Scissorhands claws, and oversized platform workboot stilts, this is definitely a more animated and playful, though ultimately no less threatening, conception of the giants. Contralto Lindsey Ammann, who is to appear in a variety of roles throughout this Ring, made a strong impression, bringing a gorgeous, rounded sound to Erda’s music. The Rhinemaidens (Jacqueline Echols, Catherine Martin and Renee Tatum) set a high standard for the evening with a consistently beautiful opening trio, a hint of the strength up and down the roster to come. If Siegfried is the Ring’s Scherzo, conductor Philippe Auguin makes a case for Das Rheingold as (perhaps) the Mendelssohn bauble that opens the first half of the program and demonstrates what the band can do. Usual opportunities for turgid tempi like the giants’ entrance sped by, in a reading highly sympathetic to the light tone set up on the stage, though perhaps at the expense of some lost grandeur and clarity in moments like the descent to Nibelheim. The Washington National Opera Orchestra offered a thrilling sound and shone in moments like the truly exhilarating traversal of the final entrance to Valhalla. Highlights of Michael Yeargan’s sets include the crumbling concrete portico strewn with makeshift staircases which serves as a staging area for the completion of Valhalla, a potent reminder that the struggle is real for these gods. (Wotan snoozing on the kind of dingy chaise lounge found in every cheap apartment building courtyard ever is also a nice touch.) Nibelheim is the production’s most striking visual, a towering earthen wall at which the Nibelungen scrape for gold that owes something to the scenes of the laborers in Powaqqatsi or perhaps the child mines in Temple of Doom. Mark McCullough’s evocative lighting design creates a wealth of effects that enliven the relatively simple sets, or the mostly bare stage in Scene 4, including lights that shine up from grates that cover the entire stage. One especially beautiful effect is built around the loss of Freia’s golden apples, color slowly leaching out of a brilliant sky as the gods’ vitality deteriorates. In general, the technical standards of this Rheingold are a considerable improvement over the earlier iteration, which may have inspired certain uncharitable wags to opine at the time that they should have called it the “Discount” Ring. These upgrades also thankfully extend to the projections which play across the scrim during transitions (new projections are credited to S. Katy Tucker). Though the descent to Nibelheim is still a bit on the nose, the new projection evoking increasingly complex chemical and biological patterns is an attractive and fitting accompaniment to the famous prelude. Photos: Scott Suchman
Sonya Yoncheva in Faust, The Royal Opera © ROH/Bill Cooper, 2014 Following the announcement last week that Russian soprano Anna Netrebko has withdrawn from Norma , the role will now be sung by Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva . Director of Opera Kasper Holten expressed his gratitude to the Metropolitan Opera , New York: ‘A huge thank you to the Met for releasing the brilliant soprano Sonya Yoncheva from her scheduled performances there as Mimì in La bohème. They have announced today that Ailyn Pérez will sing Mimì for them in the autumn. We are delighted and appreciative that Sonya will be able to join our excellent cast and creative team for The Royal Opera’s new production of Norma. She has had much success at the Royal Opera House in recent Seasons and we look forward to welcoming her back in the autumn for Norma and as Antonia in Les Contes d’Hoffmann .’ Sonya Yoncheva made her Royal Opera debut in Plácido Domingo’s Operalia Winners’ concert in July 2012. She has subsequently sung Musetta in La bohème , Marguerite in Faust , Violetta Valéry in La traviata and Micaëla in Carmen for the Company. Her other recent engagements include Desdemona in Otello for the Metropolitan Opera, New York; the title role in Iolanta for Opéra National de Paris , and Mimì in La bohème and Violetta Valéry in La traviata for Berlin State Opera . The rest of the cast remains unchanged.
Plácido Domingo in I due Foscari © ROH/Catherine Ashmore, 2014 BBC Radio 3 has announced that four Royal Opera productions will be broadcast over the coming months. Lucia di Lammermoor – 14 May 2016 (6.30pm BST) Gaetano Donizetti The story In order to preserve the ailing Lammermoor fortune, Enrico wants his sister Lucia to marry advantageously. He is horrified to learn she has actually fallen in love with his sworn enemy, Edgardo. The music Donizetti ’s Lucia di Lammermoor is perhaps best-known for Lucia’s Act III 'mad scene ', but the Act II sextet 'Chi mi frena in tal momento' is almost as well-known. It was rapturously applauded at the opera’s premiere and went on to influence such composers as Verdi . It was also one of the first ever opera ensembles to be recorded. Tannhäuser – 21 May 2016 (6.30pm BST) Richard Wagner Christian Gerhaher as Wolfram von Eschinbach in Tannhäuser © ROH 2016. Photo by Clive Barda The story Musician Heinrich Tannhäuser leaves his home in the Wartburg to become the consort of the goddess Venus. Growing tired of her hedonistic realm, he decides to return to his old life and his beloved, Elisabeth. But if Elisabeth and his comrades learn where he has been, will they ever forgive him? The music Richard Wagner ’s Tannhäuser contains few arias, but the small number it has are all remarkable for their beauty. Best known perhaps is Wolfram’s Act III aria ‘O du, mein holder Abendstern’ , his hymn to the Evening Star. Oedipe – 4 June 2016 (7.00pm BST) LIVE George Enescu Oedipe, La Monnaie, Brussels, 2011 © Bernd Uhlig The story Oedipe’s parents plot his murder after they discover he is destined to murder his father and marry his mother. However, their plans go awry and he is raised as a prince of Corinth. Discovering the prophecy, he flees Corinth – only unwittingly to kill his true father and marry his mother. The music The score calls for haunting saxophone solos, grand orchestral passages, and extreme, chromatic harmonies. The icing on the cake comes at the end of the opera, which according to conductor Leo Hussain is 'one of the most beautiful, moving and thrilling arias that exists'. I Due Foscari – 11 June 2016 (6.30pm BST) Giuseppe Verdi The story Jacopo Foscari, son of the Doge of Venice, is convicted of murder and treason. His wife Lucrezia is sure of his innocence. But the Doge, trapped by the machinations of a corrupt city, is forced to make a terrible decision. The music In his sixth opera Verdi concentrates on the intense relationships between his leading characters, rather than grand dramatic effects. Highlights of the score include one of Verdi’s earliest great duets for soprano and baritone, where Lucrezia pleads with the Doge for her husband’s life in Act I, and the passionate finale that closes Act II. Listen live to BBC Radio 3 . Please note broadcast schedules are subject to change. The Royal Opera House and the BBC are partners .
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