The Peabody Chamber Opera

The Peabody Opera Workshop

under the direction of Roger Brunyate

Opera in Italian

La Calisto

an abridged version of the opera by Francesco Cavalli

Adam Pearl, music director

Marisa del Campo, Britt Olsen-Ecker, Solen Mainguené, stage directors

Members of the Baltimore Baroque Band

Towards Bel Canto

Scenes from operas by Gluck, Cimarosa, Bellini, and Rossini

Simeone Tartaglione, music director

Jennifer Holbrook, Danya Katok, Jessica Lennick, Stephanie Miller,
William Schaller, stage directors

performed in Italian, with piano accompaniment
Saturday, February 21, 2009 at 7:30 PM
Miriam A. Friedberg Concert Hall
Peabody Conservatory of Music

Admission Free

To complement the Peabody Opera Theatre production of Verdi’s La traviata, the Peabody Opera Department will present a program of Italian opera scenes from the preceding two centuries. The Peabody Chamber Opera opens the evening with a shortened version of Francesco Cavalli’s opera La Calisto, written in 1651 (just 200 years before Verdi’s masterpiece). The opera will be conducted by Adam Pearl of the Peabody Department of Early Music, and accompanied by members of the Baltimore Baroque Band. After an intermission, the Peabody Opera Workshop will present five scenes from operas beginning in the 18th century and moving into the bel canto period of the early 19th. These include two tragedies — Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice (1762) and Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi (1830) — together with three comedies — Cimarosa’s Il matrimonio segreto (1792) and Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia (1816) and La Cenerentola (1817). The music director for all five scenes is Simeone Tartaglione. The stage directors for the evening are student members of a seminar in opera directing taught by Roger Brunyate; they have been encouraged to be inventive in their responses, and many of the operas (including La Calisto) will be presented in updated stagings.

Calisto and Jupiter
Calisto Seduced by Jupiter Disguised as Diana
Painting by Peter Paul Rubens

Francesco Cavalli’s La Calisto was one of numerous operas produced in Venice in the mid-seventeenth century by Monteverdi and his followers. Typically, the subjects are taken from classical mythology, interpreted with an irreverence that entertains the audience without sacrificing sympathy for the human characters. Calisto is another of Jupiter's many earthly conquests, achieved through his ability to change his appearance at will. When Calisto refuses his advances, saying that she is a follower of the virgin goddess Diana, Jupiter simply returns in Diana's form, and has no trouble getting the nymph to go off with him. But trouble ensues when Calisto encounters the real Diana and thanks her profusely for her kisses, or when Juno descends to earth to check out the rumors of her husband’s infidelity. Our version will tell this central story more or less complete, though cutting out most of the subplots except for a comic encounter between Diana’s spinster companion (played by a man) and a horny teenage satyr (played by a woman)!

Orpheus and Eurydice
Orpheus Leading Eurydice Back to Earth
Detail of a painting by Camille Corot

The legend of Orpheus, the incomparable musician who could charm even the gods of the underworld, has been a favorite subject of composers from the early 17th century onwards. Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714–87) wrote two versions of his opera on the story. His Orfeo ed Euridice, written in 1762, was notable for its extreme simplicity and expressive power of its vocal lines. Twelve years later, in 1774, he revised it for the Paris Opéra, adding new material, and rewriting the original castrato role of Orpheus for a tenor. Our scene, taken from the final act, is a compromise between the two; we shall retain the now-traditional mezzo-soprano casting of the main role, but will add the trio that Gluck put into the Paris version, in which the God of Love restores Eurydice back to life. It is a lovely piece of music, even though the 18th-century predilection for happy endings challenges the stage director to give them a greater psychological reality.

  Il matrimonio segreto in Japan
Il matrimonio segreto in Japan
Domenico Cimarosa’s comic opera Il matrimonio segreto (“The secret marriage”) was produced in Vienna in 1792, less than a year after Mozart’s death. While Cimarosa shares Mozart’s fondness for sparkling ensembles, his light-hearted comic style avoids darker colors and leads more directly to the opera buffa of Rossini and Donizetti. Il matrimonio segreto, his best-known opera, was based on an English play, The Clandestine Marriage (1766) by George Colman and David Garrick. Carolina, the younger of two sisters, is secretly married to Paolino, but cannot declare this until her less well-favored elder sister Elisetta gets married first. On hearing that their father is hoping to draw up a marriage contract with an English milord, Elisetta crows over Carolina, who returns as good as she gets, despite the attempts of their aunt Fidalma to stop their quarrel.

Caricature of Rossini  
Caricature of Rossini
Gioacchino Rossini (1792–1868) lived to be 76, yet he had composed all of his 37 operas by the time he was 37. He had already achieved fame by the time he wrote Il barbiere di Siviglia (“The Barber of Seville”) in 1816, yet the premiere of what would become his most famous opera of all remains as one of the great fiascos in the history of opera. This was largely due to the heckling of the supporters of Giovanni Paisiello, who had died a few months before, and whose own version of the Beaumarchais play had held the boards for over three decades. Nevertheless, the production soon recovered in subsequent performances, establishing Rossini as the great master of comic opera for his time. Our presentation will include the entrance arias of Figaro (the Barber of the title) and the heroine Rosina (the famous “Largo al factotum” and “Una voce poco fa” respectively), together with the duet they sing together as he acts as go-between for her with his master, Count Almaviva.

Juliet awakens in the tomb
Juliet Awakens in the Tomb
Painting by Joseph Wright of Derby

The short-lived Vincenzo Bellini (1801–35) was the elegaic poet of bel canto composers, doing for opera much of what Chopin was later to do for the piano. I Capuleti e i Montecchi (“The Capulets and the Montagues”), first produced in Venice in 1830, was the sixth of his ten operas, preceding La sonnambula, Norma, and I puritani, among others. Written in little over a month to fulfil an emergency commission, it uses material from less successful early works. The subject is of course the Romeo and Juliet story, but based on earlier Italian sources rather than the Shakespeare play. Our excerpt will include Juliet’s celebrated aria “Oh quante volte” on her wedding day, then cut directly to the final scene in the tomb — a sequence remarkable for the ease with which orchestrally-accompanied recitative slips seamlessly into passages of pure melody and out again, creating a perfect balance of dramatic urgency and classical poise.

Cinderella and her sisters
Cinderella and her Sisters
Watercolor by Henry Richter

Rossini’s version of the Cinderella story, La Cenerentola, was written the year after Il barbiere di Siviglia, for the same contralto singer, Giorgi, who had premiered the role of Rosina. It was an immediate success, finding performances in London, Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Buenos Aires, and New York before ten years had passed. The opera opens in traditional fashion, with Cinderella doing the housework as her sisters squabble over their dress and deportment, all the while demanding Cinderella’s assistance. In contrast to the romantic painting shown above, our production by William Schaller will transfer the action to a college dorm room, with Cinderella catching up on her homework and the announcement about the ball communicated via Skype!

Cast Lists
Passing the cursor over highlighted singer’s names
will show some previous roles.

La Calisto

Eternità & Echo  Abigail Seaman
Natura & Furia 1  Laura Koznarek
Destino & Furia 2  Rachel Gitner
Calisto (act 1)   Nola Richardson
Giove David Diehl
Mercurio Po-Ching Chen
Giove-in-Diana & Diana  Elizabeth Hungerford
Linfea  Tyler Lee
Satirino Maggie Finnegan
Giunone  Sara Woodward
Calisto (act 2)  Carolyn Pelley
Stage Directors Marisa del Campo (prologue,
intermezzo, epilogue
Britt Olsen-Ecker (act 1)
Solen Mainguené (act 2)

Orfeo ed Euridice

Orfeo  Madelyn Wanner
Amor  Marie Marquis
Euridice  Hillary LaBonte
Stage Director Danya Katok

Il matrimonio segreto

Elisetta Shanna Babbidge
Carolina Liliana Castelblanco
Fidalma Alana Kolb
Stage Director Jessica Lennick

Il barbiere di Siviglia

Figaro  Andrew Sauvageau
Rosina  Yun Kyung Lee
Stage Director Jennifer Holbrook

I Capuleti e i Montecchi

Giulietta  Ashley St. Martin
Romeo  Megan Ihnen
Stage Director Stephanie Miller

La Cenerentola

Clorinda Juliana Marin
Tisbe  Marisa del Campo
Cenerentola  Jennifer Hamilton
Alcindoro  Hirotaka Kato
Stage Director William Schaller