The series begins on Tuesday, September 1st (the only Tuesday) with a lecture on Luisa Miller by Giuseppe Verdi. Luisa Miller was written just a little before Rigoletto and although it begins with bel canto it finishes with the Verdi of La Traviata. The plot has love (frustrated), intrigue, threats, murder, parental conflict, aristocratic pressure and poison, all set to Verdi’s beautiful music. The lecture will be given by Mary Ann Smart who has spoken to us on operas by Donizetti, Bellini, Rossini and Verdi, having last spoken to us on La Cenerentola in 2014.
The following week on Wednesday, September 9th we have a lecture on Stephen Sondheim’s opera (Broadway musical) Sweeney Todd that will be given by Simon Williams. Simon is one of our most popular lecturers who last spoke to us on Bellini’s Norma in 2014. Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a big step away from Norma. A story of hidden identity, magisterial abuse, wicked revenge, razors, meat pies, and love (of course), it has been performed by opera companies throughout the United States, Canada, Japan, Germany, Israel, Spain, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Australia.
We are once again privileged to have a presentation on West Bay Opera’s 2015-16 season. This season will have Rigoletto in October, Eugene Onegin in February and Madama Butterfly in May. This presentation will be given on Friday, September 25th by José Luis Moscovich, General Director of WBO and will feature singers from their upcoming productions. Following the presentation, there will be a Friday Shabbat Lunch which is open to seniors at a very reasonable cost.
The opera lectures resume on Wednesday, September 30th with a lecture on Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti given by Alexandra Amati-Camperi. Poor Lucy (Lucia) is caught in the middle of a feud between her brother and her lover. Forced to marry against a vow of marriage to her lover, she goes mad (in one of the great scenes in opera). The survivors can only lament their decisions. Alexandra last spoke to us about Falstaff in 2013. This time she will tell us about this great bel canto opera written at the height of Donizetti’s career.
If you are a fan of Richard Wagner, we have a lecture on one of his greatest operas, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg on Wednesday November 4. This lecture will be given by Derek Katz, who lectured to us on Susannah last fall. This is Wagner’s only comedy and it is a blatant parody of the critics that were hostile to his music; a parody transferred to Nuremberg in the 16th century. The figure of Hans Sachs is based on a real master singer and it is his love of music, his compassion and intelligence that drives this story of love and invention.
Edgar Allen Poe provides the source for the final two operas which we will review: Usher House by Gordon Getty and La Chute de la Maison Usher by Claude Debussy (and Robert Orledge). This classic gothic tale of an old castle, the last owner and his dying sister and the fatal mistake that ends all is given two different treatments, one in English, one in French. Our lecturer on Wednesday, December 2nd is Timothy Flynn who has given us a number of lectures on 19th century French operas and most recently talked to us on Les Troyens by Berlioz.
This fall season features many operas that we only see rarely and gives us an opportunity to become more familiar with these works.