“Daughter of the Regiment” by Gaetano Donizetti

Saturday afternoon, March 14th at NOON  This month we’ll be showing the La Fille du regiment, an  opéra comique in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti. The last time we showed this opera several people came up to me and said that of all the operas they have seen this one has just become their favorite. It’s a feel-good opera and you will be smiling on your way home. This delightful opera is famous for the aria, “Ah! mes amis, quel jour de fête!” which has been called the “Mount Everest” for tenors. It features nine high Cs and comes comparatively early in the opera, giving the singer less time to warm up his voice. Luciano Pavarotti’s stardom is remembered by a performance with Joan Sutherland at the Met, when he “leapt over the ‘Becher’s Brook’ [a famous jump at the Grand National] of the string of high Cs with an ease that left everyone gasping.” Juan Diego Flórez performed “Ah! mes amis” at La Scala, and then, on popular demand, repeated it, breaking a 74-year embargo on encores at the legendary Milanese opera house. He repeated this feat on April 21, 2008, the opening night of the 2007 London production at the Met, with Natalie Dessay as Marie. Following appearances at La Scala and Covent Garden, Flórez has been anointed as the new Pavarotti. La Fille du Regiment may not be Donizetti’s best work, but given a top-notch production with world-class singing actors like Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Flórez, it brings vocal thrills and an abundance of laughs — a combination that’s hard to beat. Running time: 2 hours and 34 minutes, with one...

“The Magic Flute” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Saturday afternoon, February 8th at NOON This month we are showing Mozart’s The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte, K. 620), a delightful fantasy opera in two acts. The Magic Flute has enchanted audiences of all ages for centuries. Julie Taymor’s dazzling 2004 production brings one of Mozart’s greatest works to life as never before. Her costumes are filled with her signature magical puppets and colorful effects that we were all enchanted by in The Lion King. This abridged production of The Magic Flute is sung in English, and is geared for families with children as well as anyone new to opera. Mozart’s final masterpiece, which is filled with ritual and symbolism, is a playful but profound look at man’s search for love and his struggle to attain wisdom and virtue. From the virtuoso aria of the Queen of the Night to the folksong-like melody of Papageno, the bird catcher, the full range of Mozart’s miraculous talent is displayed in this magical fairy-tale opera. The opera is in the form of a singspiel, a form of German light opera that includes both singing and spoken dialogue. Mozart-lovers might be jarred by the amount of cuts that reduce the opera from 169 minutes to a 112-minute family-friendly affair. Whole stretches of spoken dialogue are eliminated as well as entire chunks of the score, including the overture and certain arias. Fortunately, the cuts are sensitively made and don’t seem to hinder the production. The cast is excellent. The antics of Papageno, the hapless bird catcher, is sung by energetic baritone Nathan Gunn (returning to one of his best Met roles). Matthew Polenzani sings...

“Salome” by Richard Strauss

Saturday afternoon, January 11th at NOON Be forewarned! This shocking opera is not for the faint of heart! For a change of pace from the sweet and gentle heroines of Puccini and Verdi we will be showing Richard Strauss’ intense and scandalous one-act opera, Salome, based on the French play Salomé by Oscar Wilde. It is one of my favorite operas – but one I also consider “deliciously depraved.” Salome, the beautiful Princess of Judaea, having been rudely rebuffed by the holy man, John the Baptist, seeks her revenge by demanding his head on a silver platter. This somewhat outrageous opera is famous for its provocative “Dance of the Seven Veils,” and for the more shocking and grotesque final scene, where Salome makes necrophilic love to the severed head of John the Baptist. After the Opera. (1) Listen to Birgit Nilsson sing the amazing final aria as so no one else can. (2) This production by David McVicar has been updated to the 1930s with some innovative interpretations. There’s a lot to discuss here. Since this opera is only one act (around 1¾ hours long), as well as being so controversial, for those of you who wish to stay, we’ll have an open discussion about it – your feelings, opinions, etc. Running Time: 1 hour 45 minutes, with no intermission Read / download the synopsis: Salome Read / download the English libretto: Salome – Libretto Newcomers to opera — These DVD presentations by the Pescadero Opera Society are a great way to learn about opera. The atmosphere is always friendly and informal — never stuffy. An introduction to the opera is given before the show,...

“Die Fledermaus” by Richard Strauss II

Saturday afternoon, November 9th at NOON Get ready to party! To celebrate the Christmas season and welcome in the New Year we’re changing to a festive mood and a hilarious comedy. Die Fledermaus has now become a December tradition at Pescadero Opera and you are guaranteed to leave with a smile on your face. Perhaps the world’s best loved comedic operetta, Die Fledermaus, is a Viennese tale of lechery, love, revenge and romance. It includes beautiful wives, juicy maids, amorous husbands, clever friends, a mysterious Count and a drunken jailer. The story takes place on New Year’s Eve 1899. Covent Garden has gone all out in this extravagant production — white tie and tails, elegant ball gowns, a gold watch and lots of champagne. The operetta is a light-hearted story about a practical joke played on one friend by another a year earlier, leading to his getting mischievous revenge on his friend. Die Fledermaus features some of Johann Strauss II’s most romantic and familiar music. This 1983 production has an exceptional cast, led by Kiri Te Kanawa and Hermann Prey, who are obviously having as much fun as the audience. The conductor is none other than a very young and dashing Plácido Domingo, who leads the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House with flair. For added delight Covent Garden has added about a half-hour of its own personal touches (which I won’t give away here). Running Time: 2 hours 57 minutes, with two intermissions Read / download the synopsis: Die Fledermaus Read / download the English libretto: Die Fledermaus libretto Listen to the Overture: Overture to Die Fledermaus HOLIDAY...

“Eugene Onegin” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Saturday afternoon, November 9th at NOON This performance of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin will be dedicated to the great baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who sadly passed away on ‎November 22, 2017 (age 55) from brain cancer.  Eugene Onegin is an opera based on a novel in verse by Alexander Pushkin. The story is a classic of Russian literature telling the story of two sets of lovers. Eugene Onegin, the hardened socialite, rejects the love of passionate Tatyana Larin, while his friend, poet and romantic, Vladimir Lensky, falls head over heels for her sister, Olga. This 2007 Met production of Tchaikovsky’s most popular opera has an all-star cast with Renée Fleming and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, both in peak form. It is conducted by today’s leading Russian conductor, Valery Gergiev. The opera is introduced by the great Russian dancer, Mikhail Barishnikov. Many of you may only know Tchaikovsky as a composer of ballet, but he is also quite a gifted composer of opera, with some stunningly beautiful and familiar arias. Running time: 2 hours, 36 minutes Read / download the synopsis: Eugene Onegin Read / download the English libretto: Eugene Onegin — libretto Newcomers to opera — These DVD presentations by the Pescadero Opera Society are a great way to learn about opera. The atmosphere is always friendly and informal — never stuffy. An introduction to the opera is given before the show, letting you know what you are about to see and hear, and any opera trivia available. Programs are provided that include a synopsis of the opera. The DVD includes English subtitles, and there’s always room for questions and discussion. The opera is held...