New York, NY: Riccardo Zandonai’s masterpiece Francesca da Rimini will return to the Met March 4 for its first company performances since 1986. The opera, based on an episode from Dante’s Inferno, will star Eva-Maria Westbroek as the beautiful noblewoman Francesca; Marcello Giordani as Paolo, the man she loves at first sight; Robert Brubaker as Paolo’s jealous brother, Malatestino; and Mark Delavan as the lurid Gianciotto, to whom Francesca is unhappily married. Marco Armiliato will conduct his first Met performances of the opera, which will be seen in Piero Faggioni’s 1984 production. The Saturday, March 16 – beginning at noon ET – matinee performance of Francesca da Rimini will be transmitted worldwide as part of the Met’s Live in HD series, which is now seen in more than 1,900 movie theaters in 64 countries around the world. In the Berkshires it will be seen at the Mahaiwe in Great Barrington, the Beacon in Pittsfield, the Clark Art Museum in Williamstown and the Movieplex in North Adams.
American soprano Sondra Radvanovsky hosts the transmission and conducts backstage interviews with the stars. Running time: approximately 213 minutes, including three intermissions.
Francesca da Rimini had its Met premiere in 1916 with Frances Alda in the title role, Giovanni Martinelli as Paolo, and Pasquale Amato as Gianciotto. The opera quickly gained a reputation among connoisseurs for its unusual blend of musical styles, joining the melodies of Italian verismo with the colorful harmonic influences of Debussy and the orchestral effects of Richard Strauss. The opera returned to the Met’s repertory in 1984, when Faggioni’s production premiered with Renata Scotto, Plácido Domingo, and Cornell MacNeil in the central roles. The production was revived once, in 1986, and has not been seen at the Met since then.
Eva-Maria Westbroek made her Met debut as Sieglinde in the new production premiere of Wagner’s Die Walküre and sang the role in three complete cycles of Der Ring des Nibelungen last season. She most recently sang Francesca in a new production at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo in 2012. Earlier this season, she sang the title role in Puccini’s Tosca at the Dresden Semperoper; Sieglinde at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden; and the title role in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut at La Monnaie in Brussels. Later this spring, she will sing the title role in Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West at Frankfurt Opera and the title role in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos at the Munich Festival.
Paolo will be the 27th role in Marcello Giordani’s extensive Met repertory. He made his Met debut in 1995 as Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème, the role he has sung most frequently with the company. His many other appearances include the title roles in the Met premieres of both Bellini’s Il Pirata and Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini and leading roles in three other new production premieres: Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Enrico in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, and the title role in Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust. Earlier this season, he sang Calàf in Puccini’s Turandot and Aeneas in Berlioz’s Les Troyens. This spring, he sings Eléazar in Halévy’s La Juive at Dresden Semperoper.
Robert Brubaker has sung 12 roles at the Met, most recently Mime in Wagner’s Das Rheingold and Siegfried, the Witch in Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, and Mao Tse-Tung in the Met premiere of John Adams’s Nixon in China. Later this season, he will sing Mime in a complete Ring cycle at the Met and a new production of Siegfried in Palermo, and sing in a double bill of Puccini’s Il Tabarro and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis.
Mark Delavan’s past performances with the Met include Amonasro in Verdi’s Aida, the role of his debut; Carlo Gérard in Andrea Chénier; Alfio in Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana; Don Carlo in Verdi’s La Forza del Destino; Scarpia in Tosca; and the title roles in Verdi’s Nabucco and Simon Boccanegra. Later this season, he sings Wotan in the Ring cycle at both the Met (in his company role debut) and Deutsche Oper Berlin, and the Dutchman in Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer with Arizona Opera.
Marco Armiliato has led performances of 21 operas by a variety of composers over his 15-year Met career. Last season, he conducted the company premiere of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena as well as performances of Verdi’s Ernani and Aida, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, and Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Later this season, he will conduct performances of Verdi’s Rigoletto at the Met and the Munich Festival; Giordano’s Andrea Chénier at the Vienna State Opera; and Puccini’s La Rondine at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden.
Francesca da Rimini Live in HD and on the Radio
The March 16 performance of Francesca da Rimini will be transmitted live to movie theaters around the world as part of The Met: Live in HD series. Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky will host the transmission. The Met: Live in HD is now seen in more than 1,900 theaters in 64 countries around the world.
The March 4 opening performance will be broadcast live on Metropolitan Opera Radio on SIRIUS XM Channel 74, as will the performances on March 12 and 16. The March 4 performance will also be streamed live on the Met’s website, www.metopera.org.
The March 16 performance will be broadcast live over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network.