Week 20 is packed with the melodrama of some of the most noble, self-sacrificing, passionate characters in all opera who will do everything for love. The nightly stream starts at 7:30 p.m. on the Met’s homepage and can be accessed for 22 hours. Please click on the title of each opera below for more information and the link to the full synopsis. To discover even more about the operas featured this week, check out the weekly guide along with articles, interviews, videos, podcasts, and educational resources.
Monday, July 27
Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor – Starring Natalie Dessay, Joseph Calleja, Ludovic Tézier, and Kwangchul Youn, conducted by Patrick Summers. From March 19, 2011.
Based on Sir Walter Scott’s historical novel The Bride of Lamermoor, this tragic story of doomed love, forced marriage, and murder abounds with unforgettable melodies, and features Lucia’s famous mad scene: a showcase piece of virtuosity for the soprano voice. This opera is a staple of the bel canto (beautiful singing) style repertory of the eighteenth to mid-nineteenth century.
Tuesday, July 28
Puccini’s Tosca– Starring Karita Mattila, Marcelo Álvarez, and George Gagnidze, conducted by Joseph Colaneri. From October 10, 2009.
One of the most electrifying and intense melodramas in the operatic repertoire. The love-lust-politics triangle of an opera diva, her artist lover, and Rome’s secret police chief, Baron Scarpia, leads to torture, murder, and suicide. This opera is based on the play La Tosca by Victorien Sardou. Discover more in the opera study guide (free with Kindle Unlimited).
Wednesday, July 29
Verdi’s Rigoletto – Starring Ileana Cotrubas, Plácido Domingo, and Cornell MacNeil, conducted by James Levine. From November 7, 1977.
The play Le roi s’amuse (The King Amuses Himself—included in this collection on Amazon) by French novelist, poet, and dramatist Victor Hugo was banned in France after the first performance in 1832 for what the censors believed to be insulting references to the king. Verdi, in turn, encountered censorship from the Austrian authorities in Venice when he and his librettist adapted Hugo’s play into the opera—and the plot’s location had to be changed from France to Mantua. The opera became so popular instantly that the Duke’s famous aria “La donna è mobile” (“Woman is fickle”) was being sung on the streets the day after the premiere.
Thursday, July 30
Verdi’s Il Trovatore – Starring Sondra Radvanovsky, Dolora Zajick, Marcelo Álvarez, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, conducted by Marco Armiliato. From April 30, 2011.
A dramatic and melodic feast for the ears, eyes, and mind, this tale of a love triangle, a lost brother, a mother’s revenge, a woman’s self-sacrifice for love, strange apparitions, and tragic twists of fate is based on the play El trovador (The Troubadour) by Antonio García Gutiérrez. A scene from the opera opens Luchino Visconti’s film Senso and the tenor’s famous aria “Di quella pira” incites a nationalistic protest in the audience. For some comic relief, watch the Marx Brothers’ A Night at the Opera in which the drama of Il Trovatore creates an effective comedic contrast.
Friday, July 31
Dvo?ák’s Rusalka – Starring Kristine Opolais, Katarina Dalayman, Jamie Barton, Brandon Jovanovich, and Eric Owens, conducted by Mark Elder. From February 25, 2017.
In Slavic folklore, Rusalka is a “water sprite.” This is one of the best-known Czech operas, famous for the title character’s “Song to the Moon”—an aria that is often performed in concerts. Based on Czech fairy tales with elements from Hans Christian Andersen’s story The Little Mermaid, this tale of the nymph who renounces her world and the ability to speak for the love of a human who betrays her has been called “a sad, modern fairy tale” and a “profoundly disturbing drama.”
Saturday, August 1
Verdi’s Ernani – Starring Leona Mitchell, Luciano Pavarotti, Sherrill Milnes, and Ruggero Raimondi, conducted by James Levine. From December 17, 1983.
Verdi’s fifth opera, and an early masterpiece that reveals facets of the composer’s blossoming genius. Victor Hugo’s play Hernani fascinated Verdi in its depiction of the conflict between love and honor. The composer strove to stay close to the original and capture the play’s poetry in the music.
Sunday, August 2
Wagner’s Die Walküre – Starring Christine Goerke, Eva-Maria Westbroek, Jamie Barton, Stuart Skelton, Greer Grimsley, and Günther Groissböck, conducted by Philippe Jordan. From March 30, 2019.
The story of the Ring Cycle’s second music drama is based on Norse mythology and Teutonic literature. Here we are introduced to one of the bravest and most noble characters in opera, Brünhilde, a Valkyrie (female figure in Norse mythology who chooses those who live and those who die in battles). “The Ride of the Valkyries” is one of the best-known pieces in all classical music: often performed on its own as a concert piece.
Top photo: Bigstock