RNCM Opera Scenes: Tuesday 14 June

Der Wildschütz
Music and Libretto by Albert Lortzing

Ella Joy Die Baronin von Freimann
Sasja Haeck Die Gräfin von Eberbach
Rowan Gillard Baron Kronthal
Jonathan Hill Der Graf von Eberbach
Patrick Osborne Baculus

Ann Miller
Garth Bardsley Director
Jacob Swindells Repetiteur
Thomas Schulze Language Coach

Premiered at the Stadttheater in Leipzig in 1842, Der Wildschütz (The Poacher) is a German comic opera based on a comedy by August von Kotzebue which mocks the exaggerated admiration for the highest beauty in art expressed by the bourgeoisie. Lortzing was the son of itinerant actors who established himself first as a popular actor, then later as a noted comic opera composer and sometime kapellmeister. The father of eleven children and something of a jack-of-all-trades he was forced to return to acting in later life to support his large family but died from a stroke at the age of fifty deeply in debt. His obituary suggested that ‘Germany has not only to lament an excellent musician, but society an upright, amiable, and single-minded man.’

The Count is celebrating his birthday. Baculus the curmudgeonly, old schoolmaster has been invited to attend but also to account for his supposed shooting of a royal deer. With him is Baroness von Freimann who is disguised as the schoolmaster’s fiancé, Gretchen (Baculus didn’t want to bring the real Gretchen for fear of the Count seducing her). The Baroness also happens to be the long-forgotten sister of the Count. Another party-goer is the Baron Kronthal who for some reason is disguised as an equerry but is also the long-forgotten brother of the Countess. Both the Count and the Baron have their eye on ‘Gretchen’ who in turn is only too happy to be wooed by both men (not realising, of course, that one of them happens to be her brother!) The Countess arrives, disturbed from her slumbers and rescues the Baroness from her would-be suitors.

La vie Parisienne
Music by Jacques Offenbach
Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy

Bonnie Callaghan Gabrielle
Helen Han Pauline
Sophie Clarke Clara
Jingwen Zhang Leonie
Phoebe Watts Louise
Joseph Ashmore Prosper
Myles Docherty Bobinet
Callum McCandless Urbain
Jermyn Leong Le Baron 

Xinjie Wang Conductor
Garth Bardsley Director
Robin Humphreys Repetiteur
Lynne Dawson Language Coach

Without Jacques Offenbach there would perhaps, have been no Gilbert and Sullivan. The creators of the Savoy operas were hugely influenced by their French counterpart and would go on to borrow many of his musical and dramatic ideas. In turn, as the G&S star ascended, Offenbach returned the ‘compliment’ and utilised some of their material in his own Moitre Péronila. Offenbach boasted that he had written over 100 operas but many of these would have been the one-act only Opêrettes Bouffes that the strict terms of his theatre licence permitted him top stage. His collaboration with Meilhac and Halévy saw the creation of the composer’s most successful and enduring works including La belle Hélène, and La Périchole. Halévy worked on some 20 operettas with Offenbach including the box-office smash, Orpheus in the Underworld.

Two Parisian dandies, Gardefeu and Bobinet live only to love and be merry. Gardefeu, posing as a guide to the city, has tricked a visiting Swiss Baron and his wife into thinking that they are staying in an annexe of an hotel – in reality his own home – where Gardefeu hopes to seduce the Baroness. Giving Gardefeu a night alone with the Baroness, Bobinet hosts a party for the Baron and to maintain the pretence gets his servants to dress up as aristocrats. Despite the subterfuge the champagne flows and the party is a roaring success!

La scala di seta
Music by Gioachino Rossini
Libretto by Giuseppe Maria Foppa

Jane Burnell Giulia
Theodore Murphy-Jelley Germano
Kristen Gregory Dorville
Yihui Wang Dormont
Robyn Pullen Lucilla
Patrick Osborne Blansac

Ann Miller Conductor
Garth Bardsley Director
James Gillett Repetiteur
Antonia Sotgiu Language Coach

Rossini’s one-act farce, La scala di seta (The Silken Ladder) premiered in Venice on May 9, 1812. It was the third of four comic operas composed for the Teatro San Moisè between 1810 and 1813 and marked the beginning of Rossini’s career. Rossini himself considered the theatre ideal and in which ‘everything tended to facilitate the début of a novice composer’. Such small-scale, comic pieces, each with a small cast and no chorus, were highly popular in Venice. The style called for performers whose vocal skills were considered less important than their ability to make the audience laugh! Just twelve months after this premiere, Rossini would be feted internationally after enjoying two box-office hits in Tancredi and L’Italiana in Algeri.

Giulia’s guardian, Dormont, is keen for her to marry Blansac whom Giulia rather thinks a perfect match for her cousin Lucilla who in turn has fallen in love with Blansac. Germano, the family servant, adds to the chaos by believing Giulia to have arranged an assignation with Blansac the news of which he shares with Lucilla. Confusion abounds until the final scene when it is Dorvil who climbs the silken ladder for unbeknownst to the household, he and Giulia are already married, and it is he who he has been paying her visits each and every night since their wedding day.

La Rondine
Music by Giacomo Puccini
Libretto by Giuseppe Adami

Madison Horman Magda
Sarah Ampil Lisette
Emily Higgins Yvette
Lucy Farrimond Bianca
Sophie Clarke Suzy
Zihua Zhang Prunier
Callum McCandless Rambaldo
Patrick Osborne Périchaud
Jermyn Leong Crébillion

Elizabeth Vergara Conductor
Garth Bardsley Director
Jacob Swindells Repetiteur
Antonia Sotgiu Language Coach

Commissioned in 1913 by Vienna’s Carltheater, Puccini began working on a comic opera that according to the brief, was to be ‘in the style of Der Rosenkavalier – only more entertaining’. The work, set in working class Paris, was completed in 2016 but due to the ongoing hostilities of WWI and Italy’s stance within the Alliance against Austria-Hungary, the premiere was moved to the Opera de Monte-Carlo. The opera was revised by Puccini several times between 1917 and 1921 although none of the three scores is considered to be the composer’s preferred final version.

Magda, hosts a party where one of her guests, the poet Prunier, is teased by Magda’s friends when he talks of love. Magda’s maid, Lisette, steps out of line when she states that the poet does not know what he is talking about; Magda orders her to leave. Prunier, convinced that no one is immune to romantic love, sings the opening of his new song about Doretta, a woman who knowing the true value of love, rejected a king as a suitor. Prunier has yet to finish his composition and so Magda steps in to complete the story.  Lisette enters to announce the arrival of a young man who is the son of an old school friend of Rambaldo.