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Opera Abbreviated: La donna del Lago, or “Go Jump in the Lake”

John Osborn as Rodrigo, Joyce DiDonato as Elena, and Juan Diego Flórez as Giacomo V in Rossini's "La Donna del Lago."
Ken Howard
/
Metropolitan Opera
John Osborn as Rodrigo, Joyce DiDonato as Elena, and Juan Diego Flórez as Giacomo V in Rossini's "La Donna del Lago.""

  The Metropolitan Opera presents Rossini’s La donna del Lago live from the Metropolitan Opera in HD on Saturday, March 14 at 1 p.m.

For a list of local theaters, including Lenox and Easton, go here: http://www.metopera.org/metopera/liveinhd/unitedstates.aspx

Opera Abbreviated presents my, hopefully, pithy take on operas featured on the Met’s Live in HD series. Listen up!

It’s hard to believe that even fifty years ago you were likely to hear only three of Rossini’s operas, Il barbiere di Siviglia, La cenerentola, L’Italiana in Algeri and maybe Semiramide. Joan Sutherland and especially Marilyn Horne came along, two of the few artists who could do justice to Rossini’s florid and dramatic writing.

As time went on we had Samuel Ramey, Rockwell Blake, Chris Merritt, Beverly Sills, Lucia-Valentini-Terrani and conductors like Alberto Zedda. The 1980s and 1990s were a good time for the dramatic, florid, and dramatic operas of Giacchinno Rossini (1792-1869). Remember, this was a composer of whom Beethoven was jealous.

Now its the turn of singers Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diego Florez. They have the comfort level in florid music and the beauty of vocal tone made for these operas.

La donna del lago is based on Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Lady of the Lake. The early Victorian era encouraged female characters to go mad rather than confront their own sexuality. Scotland, dark, cold, eerie was a perfect setting for this. Walter Scott created The Bride of Lammermoor (Lucia di Lammermoor). Creepy Scotland was loved by Donizetti, Rossini, Verdi and Mendelssohn, and Walter Scott liked to equate madness with the moors.

Nobody in The Lady of the Lake goes mad,l but here we are in medieval Scotland. The King falls in love with the lovely Elena, who is supposed to marry Roberto but who is in love with Malcolm. Elena’s father is one of the King’s most bitter enemies. Roberto is a nice guy, liked but not loved by our heroine. Malcolm is the fella for her, even if he’s played by a woman.

There’s terrific music and wonderful opportunities for a cadre of gifted singers. This opera is a great sing and enjoys Rossini’s most sophisticated orchestration.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpMWJVPWOTQ

Get ready of a vocal feast, gloomy Scotland, and a happy ending!

Christopher Purdy is Classical 101's early morning host, 7-10 a.m. weekdays. He is host and producer of Front Row Center – Classical 101’s weekly celebration of Opera and more – as well as Music in Mid-Ohio, Concerts at Ohio State, and the Columbus Symphony broadcast series. He is the regular pre-concert speaker for Columbus Symphony performances in the Ohio Theater.