Monday, July 29, 2013

Mefistofele - Thursday noon Opera Videos on a Wide Screen

The Prologue opens in the nebulous regions of space, in which flaot the invisible legions of angels, Cherubs and seraphs, that, uniting with the celestial trumpets, lift their voices in a hymn of praise to the Supreme ruler of the universe.  Mefistofele enters on the scene at the close of the anthem, and standing erect amid the clouds, with his feet upon the border of his cloak, mockingly addresses the Deity.  In answer to the question from the Mystic Choir, "Knowest thou Faust?" he answers contemptuously, and offers a wager that we will entice him to evil, and thus gain a victory over the powers of Good.

That setting from Boito's Mefistofele (based on Goethe's Faust) provides a bracing opening to the Library's annual program of Thursday noon Opera Videos on a Wide Screen on August 1, 2013.

Annually, in association with the San Francisco Opera Guild, we introduce some of the works to be performed during upcoming San Francisco Opera series.  Each program features selected clips of previously filmed productions of operas to be presented by the San Francisco Opera in the coming year. Narration and commentary is provided by Opera Guild director George F. Lucas.

The August 1 program features a 2000 San Francisco Opera production of Arrigo Boito's Mefistofele with Samuel Ramey as Mefistofele, Gabriela Benacková as Margherita and Elena, Dennis O'Neill as Faust, and Judith Christin as Marta. The conductor is Maurizio Arena.  

Giuseppe Verdi's Falstaff will be presented on August 8 with a 2009 production from the Royal Opera House Covent Garden with Bryn Terfel as Sir John Falstaff, Roberto Frontali as Ford, Barbara Frittoli as Alice Ford, Desirée Rancatore was Nannetta and Kenneth Tarver as Fenton. Bernard Haitink directs and Claudio Abbado conducts.

On August 15 we will screen excerpts from the Flying Dutchman by Richard Wagner from a 1975 filmed version starring Donald McIntyre as Der Hollander, Catherina Ligendza as Senta, Bengt Rundgren as Daland, Hermann Winkler as Erik, Ruth Hesse as Mary, and Harald Ek as Stevermann, with Wolfgang Sawallisch conducting the Bavarian State Orchestra.

Excerpts from Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly will screened on August 22 featuring a 2011 production from the Metropolitan Opera with Patricia Racette as Cio-Cio-San, Maria Zifchak as Suzuki, Marcello Giordani as Lieutenant B. F. Pinkerton, and Dwayne Croft as Sharpless. Patrick Summers is the conductor.

As the Opera Guild only presents four programs and August 2013 has five Thursdays, we will add a bonus program featuring a feature film version of Jerome Kern's Show Boat. This 1951 MGM production directed by George Sidney, stars Kathryn Grayson, Ava Gardner, and Howard Keel. This is in anticipation of the San Francisco Opera's performance of this classic of American musical stage in a "grand opera fashion" next summer.

Each screening begins at noon at the Koret Auditorium, Main Library, Lower Level.  The four preview programs will last approximately 60 minutes. Show Boat runs 107 minutes.  All programs at the Library are free and open to the public. This program is supported by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.
The cover to our 1974 Angel 33 rpm vinyl recording of Mefistofele with Montserrat Caballé, soprano, Placido Domingo, tenor, Norman Treigle, bass, the Ambrosian Opera Chorus, a chorus of boys from the Wandsworth School Choir and the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Julius Rudel, conductor.

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