If you plan to attend any performance let me know Contact SOH at least 2 days before.
Doors open 30 minutes prior to each performance.
NOTE: Feel free to bring a friend or two.
Next up at SOH:
Wednesday October 25th at 2:30 pm.
( Finish around 5:30 pm. )
Spartacus (Russian: «Спартак», Spartak) is a ballet by Aram Khachaturian (1903–1978). The work follows the exploits of Spartacus, the leader of the slave uprising against the Romans known as the Third Servile War, although the ballet’s storyline takes considerable liberties with the historical record. Khachaturian composed Spartacus in 1954, and was awarded a Lenin Prize for the composition that same year. It was first staged, with choreography by Leonid Yakobson, in Leningrad 1956, but only with qualified success since Yakobson abandoned conventional pointe in his choreography. The ballet received its first staging at the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow in 1958, choreographed by Igor Moiseyev; however it was the 1968 production, choreographed by Yury Grigorovich, which achieved the greatest acclaim for the ballet. It remains one of Khachaturian’s best known works and is prominent within the repertoires of the Bolshoi Theatre and other ballet companies in Russia and the former Soviet Union.
- Crassus, Roman consul
- Spartacus, captive king of Thrace
- Phrygia, wife of Spartacus
- Aegina, concubine to Crassus
The Roman consul Crassus returns to Rome from his latest conquests in a triumphal procession. Among his captives are the Thracian king Spartacus and his wife Phrygia. Spartacus laments his captivity and bids a bitter farewell to Phrygia, who is taken off to join Crassus’ harem of concubines. To entertain Crassus and his entourage, Spartacus is sent into the gladiatorial ring and is forced to kill a close friend. Horrified at his deed, Spartacus incites his fellow captives to rebellion.
The escaped captives celebrate their freedom. Meanwhile, Crassus entertains the Roman patricians with a lavish entertainment, including fights between blindfolded gladiators, one of whom is Spartacus. Spartacus unknowingly kills his friend in the arena. This induces Spartacus and his men to rebel. They disrupt the orgy and rescue the slave women, including Phrygia. Aegina insists that Crassus pursue the slave army immediately. The lovers celebrate their escape to the “Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia”.
Aegina discovers Spartacus’s camp and observes the lovers emerging from their tent the next morning. Aegina sends word to Crassus, who sends his army in pursuit. Internecine struggles break out among Spartacus’s forces. Finally, Crassus’s forces discover Spartacus and impale him upon their spears. Spartacus’s closest followers recover his body and carry it off while Phrygia mourns her loss.
Wednesday November 15th at 2:30 pm.
( Finish around 5:15 pm. )
Rescued from Obscurity: Franco Faccio’s Intriguing ‘Hamlet’
When Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello had its triumphant premiere at Milan’s La Scala, in 1887, two artists closely involved with the event might well have remembered a similar premiere decades earlier, of another new opera based on Shakespeare — but one that had a far different outcome.
The two men were Arrigo Boito, the librettist for Verdi’s opera, and Franco Faccio, the esteemed conductor who led the premiere performance of Otello, an opera based on Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello. And, back in the 1860s when Boito and Faccio were both young men in their twenties, they had teamed up
While Hamlet is often regarded as Shakespeare’s most popular play, it’s also his longest; a full performance can clock in at more than four hours. And the story is rife with interwoven plot elements and deceptive characters with uncertain motivations. So, Faccio and Boito had taken on a considerable challenge. Their new opera was premiered, with some success, in Genoa in 1865.
The real challenge came six years later, when the piece was first performed at La Scala. Perhaps realizing that their opera was now facing a far tougher audience, the two men made a number of revisions. It didn’t help. he Milan production suffered from a number of flaws, and while a few of the opera’s numbers were well-received, the event was ultimately deemed a fiasco. A disappointed Faccio withdrew the opera, forbidding any future productions, and the score pretty much disappeared — for more than 130 years!
Then, early in the 21st century, the composer and conductor Anthony Barrese got word of a long-lost operatic Hamlet, with a libretto by Arrigo Boito. Intrigued, Barrese decided to track the opera down. After a good deal of detective work, and with help from Ricordi, the opera’s original publisher, Barrese was able to obtain a microfilmed copy of Faccio’s own manuscript, apparently the only remaining source for the music. Working from that, and later from original manuscript materials discovered in Ricordi’s Milan archives, Barrese painstakingly transcribed and reconstructed the opera — and he conducted its modern stage premiere at Opera Southwest, in Albuquerque, in 2014.
The result of all that work is a truly fascinating, and at times quite beautiful opera. Shakespeare’s four-hour play has a storyline complex enough to rival even the most intricate opera plots. Yet Boito managed to preserve a remarkable number of the original drama’s many interconnected elements. And, in an opera lasting less than two-and-a-half hours, that makes for almost non-stop intensity and action.
On WORLD OF OPERA, host Lisa Simeone presents Faccio’s Hamlet from the 2016 Bregenz Festival, held each year in the lakeside city of Bregenz, at the western tip of Austria. The festival was launched just after World War II. At the time Bregenz had no theater. So, operas were performed on two barges moored on Lake Constance — with the stage set on one barge, and the orchestra on the other!
The festival still presents operas at the side of the lake. But by now, they’re performed in the strikingly designed Bregenz Festival Hall. The 2016 production of Faccio’s Hamlet features tenor Pavel Cernoch in the title role, and soprano Iulia Maria Dan as Ophelia, with conductor Paolo Carignani leading the Prague Philharmonic Choir and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.
The sudden death of the king and remarriage of his mother Queen Geltrude to his uncle Claudio has depressed Prince Amleto. Still mourning his father and in shock at his mother’s strange remarriage, Amleto refuses to take part in the coronation festivities at Elsinore Castle (Ah, si dissolva quest’abbietta carne). Ofelia reminds him of love’s eternal power (Dubita pur che brillino). Amleto’s friend Orazio and Marcello, a sentry, arrive, having seen the ghost of Amleto’s father walking the castle at night. The three decide to keep watch for the ghost.
Amleto, Orazio, and Marcello keep watch from a castle parapet. The ghost appears, indicating that he wishes to speak to Amleto alone (Tu dêi sapere ch’io son l’anima lesa). Revealing that his brother, Claudio, murdered him and took his crown, he implores Amleto to avenge him. Amleto swears revenge and compels his friends not to reveal what they have seen that night.
In the castle, Lord Chamberlain Polonio, Ofelia’s father, tries to convince Claudio and Geltrude that Amleto’s melancholy is a symptom of his love for Ofelia. The three withdraw, and Amleto enters, meditating on suicide (Essere o non essere / “To be or not to be”). Ofelia enters and tries to return some tokens that he had given her. Feigning madness, Amleto demands that she renounce worldly love and enter a convent (Fatti monachella) and decries marriage. A group of travelling singers arrives and Amleto decides to have them stage a play depicting a regicide similar to his father’s, so he can observe Claudio’s reaction.
The court gathers for the play, and Amleto instructs Orazio and Marcello to watch Claudio closely. Amleto calls the play The Trap (la trappola), but assures everyone that there is nothing offensive in it. As the play progresses, Claudio becomes increasingly agitated (Regina nel core), while Geltrude admonishes his foolish behavior. At the play’s climax, Claudio runs from the room, horrified. Amleto revels in the success of his plan (Viva la trappola!)
Alone in his chambers, Claudio is overcome by remorse (O nera colpa!). Amleto enters and is about to strike, but realizes that if he kills Claudio in prayer, Claudio will be sent to heaven. Desiring a more opportune moment, he withdraws. Claudio prays (O Padre nostro), but at the conclusion, he recants and exits.
Polonio enters with Geltrude, and urges her to calm Amleto. As Amleto approaches, Polonio hides behind a tapestry. Amleto and his mother argue and Amleto threatens her. Polonio cries for help. Believing Claudio is hiding behind the tapestry, Amleto stabs Polonio, realizing his error too late. In his delirium, Amleto rails against the king’s wickedness (O re ladrone). The ghost enters, ordering Amleto to focus on vengeance. Amleto begs the ghost for forgiveness (Celesti spirti! o lugubre). Geltrude, who does not see the ghost, believes that Amleto has gone mad.
Amleto withdraws, and Geltrude privately admits her guilt (Ah! che alfine all’empio scherno).
Laerte storms the castle, demanding justice for the murder of his father, Polonio. Claudio calms him, and the two watch in horror as Ofelia enters, now insane, imagining her father’s funeral (la bara involta). Claudio informs Laerte that Amleto killed Polonio; Laerte swears revenge, and both exit. Hearing the name “Amleto”, Ofelia descends deeper into her madness (Bell’alberel dolente), eventually drowning herself in a brook.
Two gravediggers are busy at work, preparing for a funeral (Oggi a me, domani a te). Amleto and Orazio enter and banter with one of the gravediggers. Hearing a crowd approach, they hide. A lengthy funeral procession enters, bearing Ofelia’s body. Laerte curses Amleto (Che Iddio scaraventi l’ardente saetta), who then reveals himself. Amleto and Laerte briefly fight. Amleto claims that he loved Ofelia (Io quella morta amai). Claudio urges Laerte to come away, referencing a secret plan to deal with Amleto.
Scene 2 (only extant in the original 1865 version)
A herald announces to the court that Amleto and Laerte will fence for sport (Illustri cortigiani e cavalieri). Laerte assures Claudio that the tip of his sword is poisoned. Amleto publicly apologizes to Laerte, claiming temporary insanity. Both men begin their duel and when Amleto gains a point, Claudio offers a toast, urging Amleto to drink from his cup (La coppa è colma). Busy with the duel, Amleto declines, while Geltrude murmurs to Claudio that she knows the cup is filled with poison. After Amleto gains another point, Claudio offers Amleto a drink again, but Geltrude seizes the cup, drinks, and faints. While Amleto is distracted, Laerte wounds him with the poisoned sword. Enraged, Amleto disarms his opponent, switches swords with Laerte, and wounds him. Laerte confesses that he is dying, a victim of his own undoing, and that Claudio’s cup was poisoned. Amleto stabs Claudio, before dying himself.
Thursday November 30th at 2:00 pm.
( Finish around 5:40 pm. )
The overture to La forza del destino makes use of themes from the opera, notably an ominous motif suggesting Fate and Leonora’s second-act aria, Madre, pietosa Vergine (Mother, merciful Virgin).
A complex plot, based on what might seem a series of remarkable coincidences and singular failures of perception on the part of the leading players, brings several important and moving duets, notably the closing scene of the second act, where the Father Guardian advises Leonora on the religious life, and the duets between the two younger men, Don Alvaro and Don Carlo, Solenne in quest’ora (In this solemn hour), as it seems Don Alvaro is near to death, and the final duel Col sangue sol cancellasi (Settled only by blood).
Don Alvaro’s third-act Oh, tu che in seno agli angeli (Oh, you who are in the bosom of the angels), when he believes Leonora dead, is well known outside its operatic context and Leonora’s Pace, pace, mio Dio (Peace, peace, my God) movingly expresses her continuing feelings of love, as she lives her solitary life, before the final tragedy. The earlier ending of the opera allowed Don Alvaro to kill himself in final despair, after action had been interrupted by a duet of recognition. The new ending was the result of a revision in 1869.
La forza del destino – Synopsis
The events take place in Spain and Italy around the middle of the 18th century.
The Marquis of Calatrava’s house in Seville
The Marquis of Calatrava bids his daughter, Leonora, goodnight, concerned by her sadness. She is in love with Don Alvaro, a Peruvian of noble Inca blood, with whom she intends to elope. The Marquis despises Alvaro as a half-breed and half-caste and has forbidden her to marry him. As the Marquis retires, Curra, Leonora’s maid, begins preparations for Leonora’s elopement. While wishing to be united with Alvaro, Leonora also loves her father and knows that he too cares for her. Her indecision is intense, but Curra outlines the bloody consequences for Alvaro if he is now deserted.
The sound of approaching horses heralds Alvaro, who climbs in through a window. Alvaro is eager to leave, but Leonora shows signs of reluctance and begs that the elopement be postponed another day. Alvaro grows suspicious and accuses Leonora of not loving him. She passionately affirms her feelings, and the lovers prepare to depart. The sound of approaching footsteps is heard and Alvaro draws his pistol. The Marquis enters. He insults Alvaro, goading him to a duel. Alvaro refuses and throws down his pistol, but the weapon accidentally discharges, fatally wounding the old man. With his dying breath the Marquis curses his daughter, who makes her escape with Alvaro.
Act IIScene I
The inn at Hornachuelos, 18 months later
A crowd of muleteers, deserting soldiers, their women and others are merrymaking at an inn at Hornachuelos. Supper is announced and a “student” (Don Carlo di Vargas, Leonora’s brother, in disguise) says grace. Leonora and Alvaro were separated on the night of their elopement. Each considers the other dead, but Carlo knows they are both alive. Determined to avenge his father’s death and his family’s honor, he is now searching for his sister and her lover. As the dance music continues, Leonora enters dressed as a young man. She is under the protection of Trabuco, a pedlar. Upon entering she recognizes her brother and immediately retreats.
Preziosilla, a young gypsy, encourages the young men to join battle against the Germans and consents to read their fortunes. She predicts a miserable future for Carlo, whose pretence she suspects. A chorus of pilgrims is heard while Leonora prays for divine mercy. As the pilgrims depart, Carlo tries to question Trabuco about the identity of his traveling companion. He is finally thwarted and called to give an account of himself to the assembled company. He presents himself as Pereda, a student helping a friend track down the friend’s sister and her lover, who, he says, has returned to his native America. Overhearing Carlo, Leonora realizes that Alvaro is still alive and feels betrayed and abandoned by him. The others, however, are happy enough and joyfully retire for the night.
Outside the monastery of the Madonna of Angels
Leonora, seeking sanctuary and solitary atonement, struggles towards the door of a monastery. She rings the monstary bell, which is answered by Melitone, a Franciscan friar. He reluctantly agrees to fetch the Father Superior (Padre Guardino), who arrives and dismisses Melitone. Alone with the Father, Leonora reveals her identity and the succession of accidents which have led her to him. She rejects his suggestion that she enter a convent and insists on living the life of a hermit. He agrees to direct her to a secret cave in the mountains, where he alone will bring her food and where she will find a bell which she is to ring only in times of great danger. All friars assemble, and the Father Superior tells the monks that a hermit is to live in the holy cave and that no one must invade his seclusion. All join in a curse on any violator, before singing a hymn to the Madonna of Angels.
Act IIIScene I
A battlefield in Northern Italy
Don Alvaro has enlisted in the Spanish forces under the assumed title of Captain Don Herreros, and is already considered a hero. Believing Leonora to be dead, he sings of his ill fortune and asks her to look down on him from heaven. Cries for rescue disrupt him and he departs to investigate. He returns with Carlo (disguised himself as an adjutant to the Spanish general, recently come to the fray), having saved him from assassins. The two exchange false names and then swear eternal allegiance. Further cries alert them to a renewed enemy attack, and they rush off together.
The quarters of a senior officer of the Spanish army
The battle resumes and a surgeon describes its progress. Victory is announced, but Alvaro/Herreros is severly wounded. Carlo saves him from death, promising him the Order of Calatrava; Alvaro reacts violently to the name. He entrusts his new friend with the key to a case wherein lies a packet of letters to be burnt if Alvaro dies, so that his anonymity and honor might be preserved. Left alone, Carlo recalls Alvaro’s reaction upon hearing the name of Calatrava, and begins to suspect that he may be his sister’s lover. He is tempted to open the letters, but his honorable scruples prevent him. However, he discovers in Alvaro’s case a locket containing a portrait of Leonora. Just then the surgeon announces that Alvaro will live. Carlo is overjoyed, knowing he will now be able to wreak his vengeance.
A military encampment
A patrol makes a tour of inspection. Alvaro has recovered from his wound, and Carlo comes to his tent, calls Alvaro by his true name and then reveals his own true identity. In vain Alvaro tries to persuade him that he is guiltless of the Marquis’ death and that Leonora is innocent. Carlo tells Alvaro that Leonora is still alive and challenges him. Alvaro, overjoyed by the news, refuses Carlo’s challenge, but when Carlo insists on wrecking vengeance on both Alvaro and Leonora he takes it up. The two swear mutual defiance and begin to fight. They are separated by a passing patrol: Carlo is dragged away; Alvaro resolves to take holy vows and to end his life in a cloister.
The camp fills with soldiers, gypsies and hawkers. Preziosilla plies her trade as a fortune-teller and Trabuco is peddling his wares. A group of beggars dispossessed by the war and begging for alms is followed by a group of miserable conscripts, but Preziosilla and her gang soon brighten the atmosphere. Melitone appears and upbraids them all for such disorderly behavior. The soldiers eventually tire of Melitone and his sermon and chase the friar away, while Preziosilla rouses everyone with a song of victory.
The monastery of the Madonna of Angels, five years later
Melitone is issuing soup to the needy. The Father Superior advises kindness to the suffering poor, but Melitone’s patience runs out and he drives them away. Carlo has tracked down Alvaro – who, under the name of Father Raffaele, has become a monk in the very monastery that has given Leonora refuge – and arrives at the monastery demanding to see him. Alvaro is summoned and Carlo calls for a duel. Alvaro offers peace, but when Carlo taunts him as a half-breed Alvaro takes up the challenge and the two rush from the monastery.
A valley by Leonora’s cave
Leonora, longing for the peaceful release of death, restates her love for Alvaro and begs God for peace. The duel between the two men spills over onto the neighboring crags in the vicinity of Leonora’s isolation. Upon hearing the clashing of swords she takes refuge in her cave. Carlos is mortally wounded by Alvaro, who invades the hermit’s sanctuary to request the last offices for the dying man. Leonora and Alvaro recognise each other. Alvaro tells her of what has happened, and she rushes to embrace her dying brother. As he expires, Carlo stabs her. The Father Superior, who has come in answer to Leonora’s alarm bell, orders Alvaro to stop cursing fate and to humble himself before God. The dying Leonora joins him in this plea, and Alvaro declaims that he is now redeemed.