Category: Opera

Cavalleria Rusticana Returns After a Long Absence With a Gently Rebuked Pagliacci

Long coupled in double bills around the world, Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci parted ways at Opera Carolina nearly 30 years ago, immediately after the two were finally wed in Charlotte. Until then, the operas had appeared separately or in successive engagements during the seasons of 1957-58, 1969-70, 1974-75, and 1986-87. The transcendent popularity of Canio’s climactic aria in Pagliacci, “Vesti la giubba,” has given that opera a stronger grip in the repertoire, which accounts for Opera Carolina programming its most recent presentations of the work in 2006 and 2015 in tandem with two other one-acts. Yet the coupling with Cavalleria is very natural, since Leoncavallo wrote his opera in response to seeing Mascagni’s, and the two premieres were almost exactly two years apart.

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ILA Summer Fest Overachieves With Semi-Staged Tales of Hoffmann

Maybe Charlotte’s best-kept cultural secret ever, the 29th International Lyric Academy Summer Festival was officially announced by its partner, Opera Carolina, two days after it had actually begun! From as far away as Cape Town and Seoul, around 150 singers, teachers, accompanists, and conductors had converged on the Central Piedmont Community College to begin a transcontinental five-week program in the Queen City. The Charlotte segment of this intensive training for young and emerging artists hopscotched from classrooms and rehearsal halls behind-the-scenes during ILA’s first week to CPCC’s grandest stage, the Dale F. Halton Theater, for the public performances marking the second week. Amid the hullabaloo, two of the college’s venues were discarded from the original festival announcement and poster art, Tate Recital Hall and the new Parr Center, adding to the impression of hurry, indecision, and feverish excitement during the ILA Festival’s opening nights.

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Through 4/23: Opera Carolina Revitalizes La Traviata, Finding Fresh Drama at Key Moments

Closing in on her 103rd birthday, my mom has lost count of the number of times she has seen Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata. But she frequently remembers the first time, because Traviata was the first opera she ever saw at the Metropolitan Opera – and she was so young then that her Bronx elders devoutly believed she wasn’t old enough to know what a courtesan was. It’s still a lovely opera to begin your operagoing with, largely because it begins so wonderfully. From the outset in Violetta Valery’s salon, Verdi pops a risqué cork of Parisian glamor and gaiety, countering this effervescence with an Italian mix of ardor and melody. It’s easy to come away from the amazing Act 1 with the idea that Violetta represents liveliness, sensuality, and sexual freedom while Alfredo Germont, her ardent suitor, represents the purest passion and commitment. After all, the curtain comes down with Violetta striving to sustain her “Sempre libera” pleasure-seeking while Alberto’s voice from offstage is wearing down her resistance with refrains invoking the torment and rapturous power of “amor che palpito” – love that pulsates – throughout the universe.

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