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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2019 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Opera Preview: Beatrice di Tenda

The Collegiate Chorale presents a Bellini rarity.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Angela Meade stars in Beatrice di Tenda.
On Wednesday night at Carnegie Hall, the Collegiate Chorale will present a rare New York performance of Beatrice di Tenda by the bel canto composer Vincenzo Bellini. This is the first performance of this opera in New York since 1988.

Please note: the performance starts at 6pm.

Beatrice stands in the composers's canon between Norma and I Puritani. The opera has a compelling title role (sung here by Angela Meade) and a style of dark choral writing that inspired Verdi in early operas such as Ernani and I due Foscari.

The plot deals with Beatrice's unhappy marriage to Filippo, the Duke of Milan. Filippo has eyes for Agnese, a rial at court. She, in turn is in love with Orombello, another courtier. In the opera's climax, the Duke and Agnese accuse Beatrice of adultery...with Orombello. A trial follows and Beatrice is sentenced to death. The libretto (by Bellini's usual collaborator, Felice Romani) has a curiously unfinished quality, which may account for why Beatrice has never gained a foothold with the public.

However, with singers like this, you don't need to worry too much about the plot. Angela Meade takes on Beatrice. This is the bel canto soprano's first major New York appearance of the 2012 season. She is joined by mezzo Jamie Barton as Agnese, tenor Michael Spyres (Orombello) and baritone Nicholes Pallesan. James Bagwell conducts the Collegiate Chorale and the American Symphony Orchestra.

We encourage you to read our feature interview with Angela Meade

Also of interest, the following conversation with Angela Meade and James Bagwell, hosted by friend of the blog Olivia Giovetti:
All video content © 2012 The Collegiate Chorale.

Finally, for your reading pleasure, parterre box's John Yohalem interviews Ms. Meade and tenor Michael Spyres. Enjoy.

Recording Recommendation:
London Symphony Orchestra cond. Richard Bonynge (Decca, 1966)
Beatrice: Joan Sutherland
Agnese: Josephine Veasey
Orombello: Luciano Pavarotti
Filippo: Cornelius Opthof
This is Dame Joan's second recording of Beatrice and her first complete opera recording with the tenor who would become a favorite leading man: Luciano Pavarotti. This excellent set may have been responsible for a brief revival of interest in this rare opera in recent years. Top quality Decca sound and engineering. Conductor Richard Bonynge (Sutherland's husband) is in his comfort zone conducting Bellini's oom-pum-pum beat.

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