Tag Archives: Lucia di Lammermoor

Donizetti operas — ‘Lucia’ plus three score more

'Lucia di Lammermoor' --Operatoonity readers favorite Donizetti

Editor’s Note:  Today’s Golden Operatoonity repost is in celebration of the anniversary of the Premiere of  Donizetti ‘s Lucia di Lammermoor, on September 26, 1835, in Naples, Italy.

In this century, it’s generally agreed upon that only a dozen of Donizetti’s operas are worth producing. Arguably some people would quibble with even that figure. According to the Donizetti poll I posted yesterday, Operatoonity readers favor Lucia di Lammermoor.  Some opera fans I know consider Lucia not only their favorite Donizetti, but their all-time favorite opera.

According to one of Opera Pulse’s polls, in which I voted, Lucia is also the second best opera character to be for Halloween (she was my first choice). I also had a blast writing about Lucia on this blog last June. Whoever schedules Lucia during the most popular marrying month in North America must have a wicked sense of humor. Don’t expect to see Lucia on the cover of Bride Magazine anytime soon.

After one of my readers mentioned that some of Donizetti’s lesser known operas featured some of the silliest plots ever, I decided to give them a look-see. According to The Penguin Opera Guide, Donizetti wrote 65 operas in total. Other sites say 60. Sixty operas? Verdi wrote half that many. True, most of Verdi’s works endure today where as only one-fifth of Donizetti’s works are regularly produced. But 60? That’s a lotta opera!

Did any other composer write as much as Donizetti? Apparently, depending on how you define opera, several composers are credited with more than 100 each, one surpassing 250, but how many composers whose work is produced today? Good question. Donizetti would have to be right up there.

According to Bachtrack’s 2010 League Tables, Donizetti ranked 7th of composers with most opera performances worldwide with 240 after Verdi with 824, Mozart  with 771, Puccini  with 681, Wagner  with 273, Rossini  with 259, and Richard Strauss 246. More Strauss than Donizetti?  A surprising statistic, per moi.

I can’t say which of the following Donizetti works are so silly they aren’t worth producing, but I can tell you which one would drive the marketing department crazy:  Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali   Just how do you fit that title onto a poster?

Anyhoo, here’s one list of his complete works:


* L’ajo nell’imbarazzo
* Alahor in Granata
* Alfredo il grande
* Alina, regina di Golconda
* L’ange de Nisida
* Anna Bolena
* L’assedio di Calais


* Belisario
* Betly


* Il campanello
* Il castello di Kenilworth
* Caterina Cornaro (opera)
* Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali


* Il diluvio universale
* Dom Sébastien
* Don Gregorio (opera)
* Don Pasquale
* Le duc d’Albe


 * L’elisir d’amore
 * Elvida
* Emilia di Liverpool
* Enrico di Borgogna
* L’esule di Roma


* Fausta (opera)
* La favorite
* La fille du régiment
* Francesca di Foix
* Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo


* Gabriella di Vergy
* Gemma di Vergy
* Gianni di Calais
* Gianni di Parigi


* Il giovedì grasso
* Imelda de’ Lambertazzi


 * Linda di Chamounix
* Lucia di Lammermoor
* Lucrezia Borgia (opera)


* Maria de Rudenz
* Maria di Rohan
* Maria Padilla
* Maria Stuarda
* Marino Faliero (opera)


* Olivo e Pasquale
* Otto mesi in due ore


 * Parisina (opera)
* Pia de’ Tolomei
* Pietro il grande
* Il Pigmalione
* Poliuto


 * Rita (opera)
* Roberto Devereux
* La romanzesca e l’uomo nero
* Rosmonda d’Inghilterra


 * Sancia di Castiglia


 * Torquato Tasso (opera)


* Ugo, conte di Parigi
* Una follia


* La zingara
* Zoraida di Granata


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Filed under 21st Century Opera, Audience participation, Bel canto opera, Classical Composers, Golden Operatoonity, North American Opera, Poll

opera and humanity . . . perfect together

Benefit concert for St. Luke's Children's Hospital/photo by Michael Chadwick

It’s beautiful and noble. Classy, classical, and charitable. It’s Opera for Humanity (OFH), and it has been aiding children and charities through benefit recitals since 2006. That’s when founder Amy Shoremount-Obra, a classical singer who trained at the Julliard School and the Manhattan School of Music, began combining her musical gifts with a desire to serve for children in need. 

Coloratura soprano and OFH founder Amy Shoremount-Obra/photo by Allan Reider

The New York-based Opera for Humanity is a vehicle for both social change and artistic development. OFH realizes their mission by helping children worldwide overcome poverty and disease through benefit performances of world-class opera by exceptionally promising young stars. Opera for Humanity is also committed to reaching many through outreach performances in communities where opera and classical music are not widely accessible. 

According to their website, in addition to its philanthropic activities, OFH is dedicated to providing opportunities for gifted young artists, helping to promote up and coming talent. Participating artists have the opportunity to help children in need and to give back to the community while collaborating with equally talented colleagues in prestigious venues. 

“We have already been fortunate enough to help many organizations,” Ms. Shoremount-Obra explained. Ronald McDonald House of New York City, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Bryan’s Dream Foundation are just some of programs they’ve supported. 

OFH's Lucia di Lammermoor/photo by Allan Reider Studio

OFH received official non-profit status in 2008. Proceeds from their inaugural performance of Donizetti’s Elixir of Love  established a fund for the company itself. Its recent performance of Lucia di Lammermoor raised $5,000 for the New York City Food Bank as well as children in Cambodia and Malawi through World Vision

Opera for Humanity has slated an entire series of recitals and a Holiday Benefit, beginning with Mim Paquin (Soprano) and Donna Gill (Piano) on November 5th, at 7:30pm at 345 E. 56th St, Kala Maxym (Soprano) and Maria Garcia (Piano) on November 19th at 7:30pm in the “Madame Butterfly” Room at 853 7th Ave. (For a special post about Kala Maxym’s upcoming recital, click here.)   

“Our Holiday Benefit will be at Bechstein Hall on December 17th,” Ms. Shoremount-Obra said.  “We are excited to announce that New York City Opera Director Beth Greenberg will direct!” 

OFH has two more recitals coming up in January, including one featuring Ms. Shoremount-Obra on January 21, to benefit the Scott Family.   

OFH participating in Make Music New York 2010

Amy is quick to credit the OFH team, which also includes Suzanne Halasz (the daughter of Maestro Laszlo Halasz, who founded New York City Opera, and also New York City Center), Director of Development; Linda Platzer, Director of Public Relations, and Julia Mintzer, Director of Production; for their tireless work in helping children in need while providing fantastic performing opportunities for young, talented artists. 

For more information on any OFH event or to be added to their mailing list, email info@operaforhumanity.org

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, Benefit, Classic Opera, Concert Opera, Heartstoppers, Recitals

ask Richard about National Opera Week

Dear Richard,  

My sister-in-law said National Opera Week begins on October 29.  Here’s my problem. I’m going to be traveling out to see her that week, with stops in Pittsburgh; Columbus, Ohio; Quincy, Illinois; and finally, heading back toward Cincinatti, early on the 7th. What’s worth stopping for along the way?  

Alice in Altoona  

Dr. Richard Rohrer, self-proclaimed opera expert


Dear Alice,  

You have hit the jackpot, my dear. Get a load of just some of the fun things you can do in America’s heartland during this celebrated week.  

First stop is on Sunday, October 31 at Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters, 2425 Liberty Avenue,  at 2:00 p.m.  There you can enjoy “Opera Up Close: Lucia di Lammermoor,”  an in-depth look at the music and story of Lucia di Lammermoor — with Maestro Walker and a star-studded panel of opera artists. Free and open to the public. No reservations required. More information here.  

Next stop on Thursday, November 4, at Opera Columbus, 11 E. Gay Street, from 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m for Opera’s Greatest Hits at Sugardaddie’s Sumptuous Sweeties. For more information, contact Sarah Rhorer at srhorer@operacolumbus.org or visit www.operacolumbus.org.  

If you’re speedy, next you hightail it over to Quincy Illinois, on Saturday, November 6, to see Muddy River Opera Company’s  “Potpourri of Songs and Roses” at the State Theatre at 434 South 8th Street,  from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Enjoy a  special American Opera Week luncheon, strolling fashion show, entertainment with songs of past operas and musicals, raffle and door prizes.  Tickets are $25. Raffle tickets, which include a one half-hour plane ride over the city and the Mississippi River plus 15 other prizes, are six for $10. For information and tickets, contact abernzen12@gmail.com or 217-242-3829.  

The Turn of the Screw/photo by John Cahill


For the last official day of National Opera Week, hustle back to the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music on Sunday, November 7, for the final performance of Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw (one of my favorites!) held at the Patricia Corbett Theater on W, Corry St, at Jefferson Avenue, on the UC Campus at 2:30 p.m.  This production is directed by Amanda Consol and conducted by Christopher Allen. Tickets are $15 for General Admission; $10 for non-UC Students (UC Students are free). For information, contact boxoff@uc.edu.  

There you go, Alice. A week jam-packed with opera because these organizations participate in National Opera Week.  

And if any of you, dear readers, want to know what’s on the docket in your neck of the words, you can use the nifty little search engine on the Opera America site to find the complete slate of events–from Alabama to Wisconsin.


Filed under 21st Century Opera, Character from DEVILED BY DON, Live opera performance, Opera Marketing

the perfect opera for the marryin’ month in a sardonic world . . .

Lucia, the quintessential bridezilla


So, WEtv thinks they’ve got a lock on bridezillas?        

The cable network’s got nothin’ compared to the opera-sphere. You want a bridezilla? How about Lucia di Lammermoor, Donizetti’s murdering missus?        

Traditionally, June has been the most popular month for marriage, probably because the Roman goddess Juno, for which June was named, was also the goddess of marriage. (Perhaps the fact that roses are in bloom has something to do with it, too.)        

So, I find it perfectly ironic when opera companies and festivals like Arbor Opera Theatre present Lucia di Lammermoor in June. 

Sidebar: It actually premiered in September, on the 26th of the month in Naples in 1853, and was based on Sir Walter Scott’s novel, The Bride of Lammermoor. It  is considered Gaetano Donizetti’s masterwork.        

If WEtv thinks brides who scream at their attendants are bridezillas worthy of Nielsen Ratings, how about a bride who murders the groom on their wedding night?        

So, gentle readers, any other bridezillas from operas–besides Lucia di Lammermoor? Or is Lucia the best of the worst?


Filed under Classic Opera, masterpieces

He’s ‘phat,’ all that, and a bona fide opera brat–meet ‘Opera Rat’ on Sunday Best

Roberto Romani, also known as "Opera Rat"


What should you do when you plug “opera” into the Twitter search engine, and the username “Opera Rat” pops up? Isn’t it obvious? You click  “Follow” — immediately.            

I love funny people. As far as his affection for opera goes, Roberto Romani, aka “Opera Rat,” is the real deal. It may also interest you to know he has loads of personal appeal and can be as fiercely snarky as a Moray eel. He’s curt, terse and pithy, and a real word smithy, too, which he comes by via both inclination and education.       

(Okay, I’m done rapping. Any more internal rhymes, and I’ll be dragged away by the Middle-Aged-White-Women-Can’t-Rap police.)             

Most importantly, Roberto shares my viewpoint about opera–that it is a very accessible performance art and shouldn’t be relegated to elite audiences.            

His moniker, “Opera Rat,” captured my imagination. So, I invited him to appear on “opera-toonity.”  I had to know. Was “Opera Rat” a play on the word opeRATic? Did he have a love/hate relationship with opera?  Was he a squatter in a big old Midwestern opera house sneaking prop food?          

Turns out the answer was d) none of the above. So why does he call himself Opera Rat? Admit it. Your curiosity is piqued. Read on, my friends.            

Please join me in extending a hearty “opera-toonity” welcome to Opera Rat. He’s on Twitter and has a blog, so feel free to log on and follow Roberto on both.            

First, let me say I’m delighted to have you meet my readers on Sunday Best, Roberto.            

1. Fans of Opera Rat are dying to know more about your username. Why Opera Rat? As opposed to Opera Lion or Opera Devil? The only rats I know of in the classical realm are from classical music (think ‘Nutcracker’). Isn’t Opera Rat oxymoronic?  I started my career as a sportswriter, and in covering basketball I heard the term “gym rat” – someone who doesn’t have much talent but who loves the sport and is always hanging around the gym. That’s what I’m going for: a take on opera from someone who isn’t an insider, who doesn’t have musical education or credentials, who just loves being at the opera house. Everyone is asking about the name. I should probably put something on the blog about it. I suppose the worlds of basketball and opera don’t overlap enough for people to get it.            

2. If my fact-checking is correct, it seems as though your embrace of Social Media (Twitter, blogging) is a recent pursuit. What was the impetus for the foray? I was ill for a week with a throat infection and no voice, which is hell when you’re a teacher. Sitting at home bored I started surfing opera sites and ran across some links to great tweeting on opera. On a whim I started the OperaRat tweet to join the fun. The name turns out to be fortuitous because it says what I’m tweeting about and it’s short, which I’ve learned is key for getting retweeted and building a following.            

3. You started with Twitter and then migrated to a blog. Did you need more than 144 characters to convey the essential Opera Rat? Well, 140 characters is the perfect size for wisecracking, and at first that was enough, because I didn’t think I was qualified to be more than a wisecracker about opera. But opera needs to open up. It’s become too insular, too self-referential. I just read a review by a guy who was comparing a production of “Die Frau ohne Schatten” to the 15 previous ones he’d seen. Fine, but you start to lose the sense of awe and wonder that draws the regular person to opera.            

Opera Rat: The Blog


4. What can Twitter and blog followers find/read at Opera Rat that they can’t find anywhere else?  I’m aiming to bring that awe and wonder. I want my blog to be a place where anyone who’s discovered opera can find fun and enthusiasm and camaraderie. There’s not much out there for opera fans who aren’t necessarily know-it-alls, who go to the opera as much for the thrills and chills as to develop their taste or intellect. It’s a shame, because opera, historically, was not highbrow entertainment, as you can tell from the sensational subject matter. I think opera is still the user-friendliest of all the fine arts because it has a story to follow. Eventually I’d like to contribute in offline media too, but not the opera press – I’d love to write about opera for Entertainment Weekly or Rolling Stone.            

The signature mustard of Opera Rat's alma mater (and employer)


5. Why do you teach where you teach and what do you teach? Anyone who can teach college anywhere is lucky. I’m even luckier because I teach at my alma mater, the journalism school at the University of Wisconsin. I’m also the main advisor there, which is a blast. It’s rare to teach where you went to school – colleges don’t like hiring their own graduates as teachers, too incestuous. But I’m a lecturer teaching from professional experience outside the ivy, not a research professor. During my career I morphed from a reporter into a PR guy, doing political and issue advocacy, and that’s what I teach now: strategic communication. But the academic job has allowed me to go back in civilian life to writing and reporting, which I love.            

6. You’re cheeky, what with your Fantasy Opera League and Golddigger Night ideas. Where did you get your sense of humor? I bought it off Laughs.com. It was pricey but they gave me free shipping.            

7. Did you start listening to opera as a kid? When did opera overtake your life (I mean, I know it overtook your NCAA bracket)?  I started listening to opera as a kid, against my will. My mother is from Italy and she played it in the house. I didn’t like it – it sounded like women screaming and men yelling. But it must’ve given me a dormant bug. About 10 years ago I got bored with rock music and started listening to classical radio and was immediately fascinated with opera. Then I went to a couple of shows and felt the tingle and it took off from there. The funny thing is, rock has bounced back lately, and there’s so much access now with the Internet, it seems like music in general is taking over my life, not just opera. A couple of days ago on a trip to the Twin Cities I discovered Minnesota Public Radio’s fantastic progressive rock and classical radio stations, and now I’m streaming them through the Internet into my house and car and downloading music left and right. It’s sensory overload but it’s great. I’d write about rock too but it’s adequately covered. Opera isn’t.            

8. Do you like modern opera as much as classic opera? I admire a lot of the modern stuff but I don’t love it. I wish modern composers were writing in a more traditional style, with melodies you hum later. On the other hand, too many of the classic operas have insane story lines. If modern composers would marry an accessible musical style with updated storytelling, I think opera would explode. A couple of weeks ago I saw “Elmer Gantry” at the Florentine Opera in Milwaukee and that’s the sort of modern show that could make opera back into popular entertainment. The crowd went berserk over it. But it’s not a sellout – it’s classical music.            

9. Any faves – titles, composers, performers? It changes. When I first got into opera it was exclusively the bel canto stuff my mother brought from Italy: Donizetti, Bellini, Rossini, Verdi. Then I had a phase with Eastern Europe: Janacek, Tchaikovsky. Last month I saw Berlioz’s “Damnation of Faust” at the Lyric in Chicago and was knocked into the aisle by it. So now I’m on a French jag, though Berlioz wrote in more than just a French style. If I had to pick an all-time favorite composer it would probably be Donizetti, with “Lucia di Lammermoor” my favorite opera. I’ve still never seen it in person. I just can’t seem to cross its path at the right time.           

Thanks for your time, Opera Rat. And continued good luck as you build your social media platform. Here’s hoping a production of  “Lucia di Lammermoor” soon crosses your path.

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Filed under Classic Opera, Classical Composers, Interviews, Sunday Best