The Metropolitan Opera in Your Homes—Week 32: It’s Comedy Time!

Eating, loving, singing and digesting are, in truth, the four acts of the comic opera known as life, and they pass like the bubbles of a bottle of champagne. Whoever lets them break without having enjoyed them is a complete fool. (Gioachino Rossini)

Seven of the best operatic comedies will fill our week with laughter and awe with the vocal virtuosity of some of the most beloved opera superstars. The master of comic opera, Rossini, takes center stage in Week 32 with three enchanting and hilarious operas, while Lehár, Mozart, Verdi, and Strauss hold their own in a versatile display of sidesplitting comedy. 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, October 19
Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia – Starring Joyce DiDonato, Juan Diego Flórez, Peter Mattei, John Del Carlo, and John Relyea, conducted by Maurizio Benini. From March 24, 2007.

“Figaro, Figaro, Figaro!” The super-famous name belongs to the wily title character of one of the most delightful comic operas ever composed. An ideal introduction to opera for newcomers, The Barber of Seville is based on the play by Pierre Beaumarchais. Excerpts from Figaro’s lively introduction aria have been used in films, television, commercials, and cartoons.

Tuesday, October 20
Lehár’s The Merry Widow – Starring Renée Fleming, Kelli O’Hara, Nathan Gunn, Alek Shrader, and Thomas Allen, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. From January 17, 2015.

This lovely comedy is an operetta (the Italian diminutive of opera): a light opera that includes spoken dialogue, songs, and dances. It is based on the 1861 play, L’attaché d’ambassade (The Embassy Attaché) by Henri Meilhac.

Wednesday, October 21
Mozart’s Così fan tutte – Starring Amanda Majeski, Serena Malfi, Kelli O’Hara, Ben Bliss, Adam Plachetka, and Christopher Maltman, conducted by David Robertson. From March 31, 2018.

One of Mozart’s most entertaining operas returns. “Così fan tutte” means “so do they all”—and “they all” refers to women. A hilarious comedy about gender stereotypes, and women’s fidelity in love. The libretto was written by the great Lorenzo Da Ponte with whom Mozart also collaborated on Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro. In the story Mozart and Da Ponte used the idea of “fiancée swapping,” a 13th-century theme that is also found in Boccaccio’s Decameron and Shakespeare’s Cymbeline. This opera is a sparkling and exquisite Mozartian gem with memorable arias, ensembles, orchestration, and overall musical delight.

Thursday, October 22
Rossini’s La Cenerentola – Starring Cecilia Bartoli, Ramón Vargas, Simone Alaimo, and Alessandro Corbelli, conducted by James Levine. From October 27, 1997.

Here is Cinderella in Rossini’s lively and playful musical vision. The beloved fairy tale with which we are most familiar originated with the story called Cinderella, or the Little Glass Slipper published by French writer Charles Perrault in 1697. In 1812, the Brothers Grimm penned their own version, and in 1950, Cinderella arrived on the big screen thanks to Disney. For a live action film adaptation of the story, rent the 2015 movie on Amazon.

Friday, October 23
Verdi’s Falstaff – Starring Mirella Freni, Barbara Bonney, Marilyn Horne, Bruno Pola, and Paul Plishka, conducted by James Levine. From October 10, 1992.

Verdi’s final opera, composed while he was nearing the age of 80, is adapted from Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor and scenes from Part I and Part II of Henry IV. It is Verdi’s second comedy within more than fifty years of creating operatic tragedies. The composer commented on his choice: “After having relentlessly massacred so many heroes and heroines, I have at last the right to laugh a little.” 

Saturday, October 24
Rossini’s Le Comte Ory – Starring Diana Damrau, Joyce DiDonato, Susanne Resmark, Juan Diego Flórez, Stéphane Degout, and Michele Pertusi, conducted by Maurizio Benini. From April 9, 2011.

This zany farce is set in the 13th century during the time of the Crusades in the French province of Touraine. Count Ory will stop at nothing to capture his love interest, Countess Adèle, even disguising himself as a nun. Rossini’s playful, lively, theatrical, and lovely music delights us throughout this comedy of mistaken identities and gender bending.  

Sunday, October 25
Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier – Starring Renée Fleming, El?na Garan?a, Erin Morley, Matthew Polenzani, Marcus Brück, and Günther Groissböck, conducted by Sebastian Weigle. From May 13, 2017.

A comedy about love, the passion of youth, and the wisdom of age. This opera is one of Strauss’ several collaborations with the Austrian genius librettist, novelist, poet, essayist, and dramatist Hugo von Hofmannsthal. It is a gloriously elegant musical and poetic tribute to Vienna as well as a fascinating mélange of entertaining comedy and profound reflection on aging and the passing of time.  

Top Bigstock photo: Members of the Dnepropetrovsk State Opera and Ballet Theatre perform ” The Barber of Seville ” on June 25, 2011 in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine.

About Maria-Cristina Necula (58 Articles)
Maria-Cristina Necula’s published work includes the newly-released "The Don Carlos Enigma: Variations of Historical Fictions," "Life in Opera: Truth, Tempo and Soul," two translations: "Europe à la carte" and Molière’s "The School for Wives," and three poetry collections. Her articles and interviews have appeared in "Classical Singer" Magazine, "Das Opernglas," "Studies in European Cinema," and "Opera News." As a classically-trained singer she has performed in the New York City area at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, Florence Gould Hall, and the Westchester Broadway Theatre, and has presented on opera at The Graduate Center, Baruch, The City College of New York, and UCLA Southland. She speaks six languages, two of which she honed at the Sorbonne University in Paris and the University of Vienna, and she holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from The Graduate Center. Discover more about her work at www.mariacristinanecula.com.