Jason Moran and Alicia Hall Moran draw upon their own family lore and the historical record of the Great Migration to compose tableaux that explore a continuum of music from rhythm and blues to gospel, classical to Broadway, work songs to rock ‘n’ roll. Experience the ingenuity of these artists as they take a journey from the American South after emancipation to all points North, West, and beyond—shining a light on the epic event that changed the sound of America forever.
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Zelmira is the last of Rossini's "Neapolitan Operas," a series of nine dramas that are largely considered to be some of his greatest works. This pioneering work marks the beginning of the composer's international career and lays the groundwork for early Italian Romantic opera. Embarking on a mission to save her father, King Polidoro, from a murderous usurper, our title character faces a series of aspersions directed against her and nearly loses her family and her life in the process. Lawrence Brownlee, one of the world's leading bel canto tenors, returns to WCO as Zelmira's husband Ilo. Celebrated Spanish mezzo-soprano Silvia Tro Santafé will make her company debut in the title role, and another distinguished mezzo- soprano, Vivica Genaux, joins the cast as Emma.
Following the great success of Donizetti’s La Fille du regiment, this season’s programme will once again be enriched by a concertante opera performance – of Vincenzo Bellini’s La sonnambula. Apart from Norma, La Sonnambula is Bellini’s most famous work and the only opera by the composer to have enjoyed a continuous tradition of performance since its première in 1831. Since the triumphant success of Giuditta Pasta as Amina and Giovanni Battista as Elvino in the première production at the Teatro Carcano in Milan, these two extremely demanding principal roles have been sung by almost every famous singer in these vocal registers. At Zurich Opera House, it is now Pretty Yende and Lawrence Brownlee’s turn to rise to the challenge. Both have already been celebrated at Zurich Opera House in Bellini’s I puritani. And both have enjoyed stellar international careers in recent years. Lawrence Brownlee is considered one of the best tenors worldwide for Italian bel canto, while Pretty Yende sings Rossini’s, Donizetti’s and Bellini’s great soprano roles on the world’s most important opera stages – recently above all at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. For the first time, she will now portray the Amina of her favourite composer, Vincenzo Bellini, whose famous «melodie lunghe, lunghe, lunghe» «speak directly to her soul», as the singer professed in an interview. The musical direction will be in the hands of Maurizio Benini, a renowned specialist in the Italian repertoire, who has already given guest performances at Zurich Opera House as the conductor of Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi.
Amina, a poor orphan, and Elvino, the richest farmer in the village, are looking forward to their wedding. But when Amina is caught in the room of Count Rodolfo, who has recently returned after a long absence, this idyll in the Swiss Alps collapses. Elvino breaks off the engagement and returns to Lisa, his former lover. Only when Amina appears as the village phantom, somnambulating at a vertiginous height, is her innocence clear to all. While sleep walking she was not the mistress of her senses, but once out of her trance she finds herself again the betrothed of Elvino. Bellini and his librettist, Romani, opted for lyrical, romantic material for their fifth collaboration and have ventured into semiseria territory, operas with a happy ending that are partly serious, partly frivolous. They place Amina’s spiritual life at the heart of the piece, with the music accompanying the two sleep-walking scenes exploring the psyche of a young woman torn between love, jealousy and supposed guilt. These stand-out moments inspired the composer to some of his most touching “melodie lunghe, lunghe, lunghe” [Verdi].
In a brilliant collaboration with set and costume designer Anna Viebrock, Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito have adapted for the Deutsche Oper Berlin a production that they wrote in 2012 for the Staatsoper Stuttgart. The romantic idyll of an alpine village has been swapped for the stuffy confines of a village inn.
Under the terrible dictatorship of Cromwell in England in the 17th century, the Puritans preached in favour of an austere lifestyle, focused on the Bible. A love story emerging from adverse winds offered Bellini a subject that was most definitely conducive to exploiting the facets of the nascent romantic opera style, but also to articulating a wide range of human passions. Elvira’s scene of madness is only equalled by another from a contemporary work, Lucia di Lammermoor.
Based on a true story, the last work by Bellini was composed over a long time, taking nine months. The master amended the libretto and rearranged the music following the advice of Rossini. Its first performance, at the Théâtre-Italien in Paris, was triumphant.I Puritani requires exceptional casting. The vocal quartet, originally formed by Grisi, Rubini, Tamburini and Lablache, is subjected to the most perilous arias of the bel cantorepertoire. Their success gave rise to the nickname the Puritan Quartet, which has remained famous to the present day. However, between cavatina and cabaletta, the composer, who was the king of melody and smoothness, treats us to some of the finest arias of Italian opera!