Plotkin's Guide to Italian Opera Performances in 2013-14

Friday, October 25, 2013 - 03:00 PM

Auditorium, Teatro alla Scala Auditorium, Teatro alla Scala (Fred Plotkin)

One of the questions I am most asked from readers who know of my passion for Italy is, “We would like to go to an opera on our trip to Italy but don’t know what is playing and cannot find any information. Can you help us?”

There are a few reasons why this information, more easily available in most countries, is harder to come by in the nation of opera’s birth. First, of course, is the financial and administrative turmoil one finds in some Italian theaters in even the best of times. The second is that every opera company has its own calendar and sense of when its season starts. La Scala, for example, always starts on December 7, the day of Sant’Ambrogio, patron saint of Milan. Other theaters, including Bari and Bologna, indicate their listings according to a calendar year from January to December. Still others start some time in the fall, like the Metropolitan Opera and the Vienna State Opera.

Because certain theaters, such as those in Florence and Genoa, have had a lot of fiscal problems this year, they were late to secure funding and artists and also late to formally announce their offerings.

But I have done some research and called people in different theaters to get information. I have not always been able to find out casting and space prevents me from including everything, but I hope to provide an interesting cross-section. Click a theater’s name when it is highlighted in blue to access its website. When I indicate a range of dates, do not assume there will be daily performances. Visit the website to learn details.

Bari

Teatro Petruzzelli: This theater in the capital of Puglia burned down two decades ago and took a long time to come back. But now they present full seasons notable for good conductors and very important stage directors. I have details through 2014: Falstaff (Nov 20-28); Elektra (Jan 31-Feb. 11, 2014) La Traviata (Mar 23-Apr 3); Pagliacci (May 21-29); Rota’s Florentine Straw Hat (Sept 13-18); Il Trittico (Oct 16-25); Lucia di Lammermoor (Nov 19-27); Die Zauberflöte (Dec. 14-22).

Bologna

Teatro Comunale: This beautiful theater with a grand tradition turns 250 this year. It is close to the music conservatory where Mozart and Rossini (and I) studied. When you are not attending opera, there is much to see in this wonderful town, including Italy’s best food markets. For now the only listing I have is Turn of the Screw (Nov. 19-27), coinciding with the centennial of Britten’s birth. Check their website for forthcoming announcements of the 2014 season.

Circuito Lombardo

Circuito Lombardo includes the four teatri di tradizione I wrote about last winter. They are in Brescia (right), Como, Cremona and Pavia. Between now and mid-December they will all be presenting, in rotation, L’Elisir d’Amore, Der Fliegende Holländer, Otello and Rossini’s Tancredi (led by the excellent young composer/conductor Francesco Cilluffo).

Florence

There is not yet much to report at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, although you can attend Pergolesi’s trailblazing comedy La Serva Padrona (Nov. 8-16); L’Elisir d’Amore (Nov. 15-21) and Nino Rota’s Florentine Straw Hat (Dec. 3-10).

Genoa

Teatro Carlo Felice opens its season with hometown boy Fabio Luisi leading Rigoletto (Nov. 13-24), followed by Otello (Dec. 27-Jan 5, 2014); Madama Butterfly (Feb. 18-Mar 2) with Genoa natives Daniela Dessì and Fabio Armiliato singing some of the performances; Le Nozze di Figaro (Mar 14-18); La Bohéme (Apr 5-16); Carmen (May 9-31) with Sonia Ganassi and Genoese tenor Francesco Meli singing some performances.

Milan

Teatro alla Scala remains an unmissable destination and, though its offerings are fewer than in recent years, they are choice. Don Carlo runs through Oct. 29 and Aïda runs through Nov. 19 to conclude the 2012-2013. The new season starts with La Traviata, starring Diana Damrau (Dec. 7-Jan. 3, 2014); Lucia di Lammermoor (Feb. 1-28); Il Trovatore (Feb. 15-Mar. 7); The Tsar’s Bride (Mar. 2-14); Les Troyens, with Antonio Pappano leading a great cast including Anna Caterina Antonacci, Daniela Barcellona, Gregory Kunde and Samuel Ramey (Apr. 8-30); Elektra, Patrice Chereau’s last opera production (May 18-Jun 10); Così fan tutte (Jun. 19-Jul. 18); Le Comte Ory (Jul. 4-21); Simon Boccanegra (Oct. 31-Nov.19). It has just been announced in Corriere della Sera that La Scala’s new music director will be Riccardo Chailly, likely beginning in 2015 or 2016.

Naples

The Teatro San Carlo, founded in 1737, is a magical place to attend an opera performance. The theater is beautiful and so is its audience. On warm nights, they go for intermission in the adjacent garden, often joined by members of the orchestra and chorus members in costume. Aïda (Dec. 5-17); Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Jan. 14-29, 2014); Eugene Onegin (Feb. 28-Mar. 9); Otello (Apr. 13-29); Pagliacci (May 22-June 8); Salome (Nov. 15-26). A special presentation will be in the Teatrino di Corte (the small court theater in the Palazzo Reale): Don Checcho (Sept. 25-Oct. 3), by Nicola De Giosa, the preferred pupil of Donizetti. It premiered in 1850 in Naples and was a huge hit, rivaled only by La Traviata. I would also want to be in Naples on June 21, 2014 for a Rossini concert conducted by the great Alberto Zedda and featuring Mariella Devia and Ewa Podles.

Rome

If you are heading there this week, don’t miss Peter Grimes at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia starring Gregory Kunde and led by Antonio Pappano (Oct. 26, 28, 30). Otherwise, there are many good offerings at the Teatro dell’Opera also known as the Teatro Costanzi. The season opens with Riccardo Muti leading Ernani (Nov. 27-Dec. 14), followed by L’Enfant et les Sortileges/L’Heure Espagnole (Jan. 30-Feb 6); Manon Lescaut, with Muti leading Anna Netrebko (Feb. 27-Mar. 8); Rossini’s Maometto Il Secondo (Mar. 28-Apr. 8); an evening of Verdi dance music (Apr. 15-19); L’Elisir d’Amore (May 8-14); Carmen (Jun 18-28); Britten’s Prodigal Son, led by James Conlon (Jul 5); Rigoletto (Oct. 21-31).

Turin

Teatro Regio has been a rising star on the opera scene for several years now. At the moment they are concluding a cycle of performances of Simon Boccanegra, Rigoletto and La Traviata as part of the Verdi bicentennial festivities. Then come Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Nov. 7-17); a Verdi gala with scenes from Macbeth, Il Trovatore and Aïda conducted by Gianandrea Noseda and starring Barbara Frittoli, Marianne Cornetti, Marcelo Alvarez and Leo Nucci (Dec. 18 and 22); Die Zaublerflöte (Jan. 10-21); Madama Butterfly (Feb. 1-6); Turandot (Feb. 12-27); Tosca (Mar. 13-18); a double bill of Zemlinsky’s Florentine Tragedy and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi); Rossini’s Guglielmo Tell, with Noseda leading Angela Meade, John Osborn and Dalibor Jenis (May 7-18); Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress (Jun. 10-22); La Vedova Allegra, or The Merry Widow in Italian (Jun. 27-Jul. 6).

Trieste

Teatro Verdi is a very nice theater in the city that has given us artists such as Daniela Barcellona, Piero Cappuccilli and Giorgio Strehler. As of this moment, only a symphonic season has been announced but I encourage you to check periodically if Trieste is in your plans.

Venice

Venice has seen a significant operatic revival in recent years. Performances take place not only at the gorgeous Teatro La Fenice but in the historic and now active Teatro Malibran. Both theaters can be found on the same website. Between the two theaters you can see Meyerbeer’s L’Africaine (Nov. 23-Dec. 1); Rossini’s La Scala di Seta (Jan. 17-25, 2014); La Clemenza di Tito (Jan. 24-Feb. 1); La Traviata (Feb. 15-Mar. 8); Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Feb. 21-Mar. 9); Wolf-Ferrari’s Il Campiello (Feb. 28-Mar. 11); Henze’s Elegy for Young Lovers (Mar. 27-Apr. 6); Handel’s Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (Mar. 25-Apr. 5); La Bohéme (Apr. 19-May 30); Madama Butterfly (Apr. 26-Jun. 1); Tosca (May 16-May 31); Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress (Jun. 27-Jul. 5); Otello, in the courtyard of the Ducal Palace (Jul. 12-18); La Traviata (Aug. 29-Sept. 25); Il Trovatore (Sept. 12-28).

Verona

Most people think of opera in this city as the summer festival in the Roman arena built in the First Century A.D. But there is also a winter season in the Teatro Filarmonico that is another reason to visit this beautiful town when most of the tourists are gone. Both theaters share the same website. I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Bellini’s take on Verona’s hometown lovers Romeo and Juliet (Nov. 3-12); Don Pasquale (Dec. 13-22); L’Italiana in Algeri (Feb. 2-9); La Vedova Allegra, which is The Merry Widow in Italian (Mar 2-9); Maria Stuarda (Apr 6-13); La Bohéme (Nov. 9-16, 2014).

Brescia photo: Fred Plotkin; Turin photo: Flickr/photologue

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Comments [11]

Fred Plotkin from New York City

Here is the schedule for the Teatro Regio in Parma for the first months of 2014: Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo and Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini (12, 18, 21, 24, 26 January), La cambiale di matrimonio by Gioachino Rossini (21, 23, 25, 28 February), Les pêcheurs de perles by Georges Bizet (25, 31 March, 2, 4, 6 April). On the occasion of the Holy Week two concerts will take place: Via crucis by Franz Liszt for solo, chorus and piano (16 April) and Musica instrumentale sopra le sette ultime parole del nostro Redentore in Croce (The Last Seven Words of Christ) by Joseph Haydn, orchestra version (18 April).

THe Teatro Luciano Pavarotti in Modena (http://www.teatrocomunalemodena.it/stagione.php?id=opere) will have I Vespri Siciliani (Nov 22, 24); Donizetti's Furioso all'Isola di Santo Domingo (Nov 30, Dec 1); La Clemenza di Tito (Feb 7,9); Simon Boccanegra (Mar 21, 23); The Pearl Fishers (April 13, 15).

Nov. 15 2013 04:03 AM
Brian E. McConnell from Boca Raton, Florida

What about Catania and Palermo? There are excellent companies there, too. Opera lovers might like to visit the birth city of Vincenzo Bellini and see his childhood home above the Roman theater in the city.

Oct. 28 2013 01:24 PM
Fred Plotkin

Always purchase opera tickets ahead of time whenever possible

Oct. 27 2013 01:25 AM
Patricia Sandler from New York

Hi Fred,

Should we buy tickets for January at San Carlo on-line, or wait until we get there? Is it usually sold out.

Oct. 26 2013 05:35 PM
Stefano from Manhattan

An invaluable resource for opera performances in Italy. Grazie mille, Fred!

Oct. 26 2013 01:32 PM
concetta nardone

Mr. Plotkin: As usual fine article. Lucky you to visit Italy. I am an American Italian/Sicilian and love the country, culture, history, etc. Lived there for four years. What an experience! Italians rarely bore.
Best wishes

Oct. 26 2013 12:58 PM
Charles Fischbein from Front Royal, Va.

T thank those who helped. I have no problem walking reasonable distances, the problem comes when sitting since the right leg does not bend well and it is impossible of me to sit in an inside seat. I must get a left aisle seat. I have had the same seats at the Met for my subscription for several years, a left aisle.
At he Kennedy Center they have excellent chair seating on several levels with heavily padded chairs that can be positioned for individual comfort.
When I attend the Virginia Opera, a fine local company which by the way treated its long time founding General Director, and Conductor, Peter Mark horribly a few years ago and paid a heavy price, I also have access to handicapped seats that allow me enough room for my leg.
Hopefully if I make direct email or telephone contact with the individual box offices directly and they have someone who speaks English or I can find an Italian translator I can arrange for such seats.
I might as well start the contacts as soon as we set the dates for departure. Hopefully July 2014. God Speed, Charles Fischbein

Oct. 26 2013 08:23 AM
Cassandra Riis

The Teatro Rossini used for the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro has excellent accessibility options, including bathrooms!
Although specific seats cannot be selected, the box office is apparently helpful.

Oct. 26 2013 07:39 AM
Rachelle Pachtman from New York

Fred you are a magician; I have been trying to figure this out for myself and voila, you provide the entire enchilada. Thanks so much. This is so helpful. Did you catch the Bel Canto concert last Sat. night at City Center sponsored by Pavorotti's Foundation? These young budding stars were wonderful.

Oct. 26 2013 01:15 AM
Fred Plotkin

Regarding accessibility in Italian opera houses and theaters, and all over Italy: The nation has different rules in each region, with the Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Emilia-Romagna being the most sensitized. It is an ancient country in which many monuments and landmarks could not be made accessible. In addition, as regards opera houses, those that have been built anew or rebuilt after wars often have better accessibility than those that date back further. Among the theaters with better access: Teatro Regio di Torino, Teatro La Fenice in Venice (though getting over bridges to arrive is a challenge), Teatro Comunale in Florence, Teatro Costanzi in Rome, Accademia di Santa Cecilia (Città della Musica). The theaters in Naples, Bologna, the Circuito Lombardo have more difficult access. La Scala, though older, has more accessible areas than one would imagine. When you go to the Web sites of the theaters and look in Italian, the words to seek are accessibile (Accessible) and disabile (disabled) for more information.

Oct. 26 2013 12:44 AM
Charles Fischbein from Front Royal, Va.

Very well referenced post, that you so much. I do however have a question re-Italian Opera venues and accessibility for handicapped patrons.
Two years ago I was planning a trip to Italy, only my second trip there.
I had no problems referencing the web sites of La Scala and several other well known Italian houses.
However I could not get any idea of the seats I would be assigned to after making ticket purchases.
After 12 surgeries on my right knee, the leg does not bed more than 40 degrees,. At the Met and Washington National Opera I can always secure a left aisle seat allowing my right leg to be placed in the aisle, always being careful not to trip anyone.
However I have found no way to secure specific seats when ordering on this side of the pond.
I ran into this very issue several years ago when i wanted to go on a Metropolitan Opera sponsored tour of European Opera houses.
No one from the tour company the Met had contracted could assure me of getting a left aisle seat.
I am planing to over the pond next summer and would love to be able to know I can get access to seats that I can use. I know it is a bit off topic but your article has gotten me thinking of my planned 2014 trip, and how to assure myself i can get proper seating.

Oct. 25 2013 03:53 PM

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