Opera Preview: The Magic Flute by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Thursday, April 27, 7:00 PM

Mozart was a busy fellow in the summer of 1791, the last summer of his short life. He had a commission from the new Emperor for a “Coronation Opera” (which became La Clemenza di Tito in Prague in September) and also for a German language singspiel comedy for a talented impresario in Vienna. The singspiel, which opened as The Magic Flute in October, 1791, was a huge success. Finally Mozart had a money-making hit. But then, heart-breakingingly for posterity, he died at age 35. The Magic Flute has everything an opera-lover could want: serious life-and-death drama paired with some of the most rollicking comedy ever put on stage. Add in a hilarious feather-covered bird-catcher and a crazed Queen with dazzling high notes, and this opera goes over the top. You will laugh. You will cry. You will love this opera! This free lecture, provided to increase the enjoyment and appreciation of Seattle Opera productions, will feature Norm Hollingshead, with recorded musical excerpts. Space is limited. First come, first seated. Sponsored by the Friends of the Mercer Island Library.

 

Opera Preview: Katya Kabanova by Leos Janacek Thursday, February 16, 7:00 PM

Katya, in a soprano role, is a young wife in an unhappy upper middle class marriage. Her weak husband is an alcoholic, and both the young husband and wife are dominated by his mother, the Kabanicha. Not surprisingly, Katya is lured into an illicit love affair with a handsome young fellow from the city. Such improper behavior cannot be tolerated for long, and once the Kabanicha finds out, Katya is doomed. Janacek’s amazing music in this opera makes Katya’s final scene the most gripping in all opera. This free lecture, provided to increase the enjoyment and appreciation of Seattle Opera productions, will feature speaker Norm Hollingshead, with recorded musical excerpts. Space is limited. First come, first seated. Sponsored by the Friends of the Mercer Island Library.

Opera Preview: Hansel und Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck Thursday, October 6, 7:00 PM

Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel is the most popular opera ever composed to be based upon a tale from the Brothers Grimm. First performed in 1893, Hansel und Gretel was performed in 50 different opera houses in 20 different languages in just its first year of existence. In the 20th century Hansel und Gretel became a holiday opera performed at Christmas time, often in conjunction with Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. Humperdinck’s opera deserves its popularity as it contains some of the loveliest operatic music ever written. However, it does not shirk on the scariness of two youngsters lost in the woods overnight, only to face a weird old lady (played by a man–an operatic “trousers role”) who would like to fatten them up for a future meal. It all ends happily, of course, with the sweet melodic finale you expect from a fairy tale. This free lecture, provided to increase enjoyment and appreciation of Seattle Opera productions, will feature Norm Hollingshead with recorded musical excerpts. Space is limited. First come, first seated.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Mercer Island Library.

Opera Preview: Le Comte Ory by Gioachino Rossini Thursday, July 28, 7pm

music-sheet-1326999_640Held at the Mercer Island Library

This free lecture, provided to increase enjoyment of Seattle Opera productions, will feature speaker Norm Hollingshead with recorded musical excerpts.
Space is limited: First come, first seated.
Sponsored by the Friends of the Mercer Island Library.

Opera Preview: Mary Stuart/Maria Stuarda by Gaetano Donizetti Wednesday, February 24, 7pm

This, the greatest of Donizetti’s three “Tudor Queen” operas, was first performed in 1835. It is a not-very accurate retelling of the rivalry, both political and romantic, between Queen Elizabeth I of England and Mary Queen of Scots. Some of the most exciting music Donizetti ever wrote was given to Mary/Maria as she battles for her life against the more powerful Elizabeth. Mary/Maria’s farewell to her friends and supporters will bring even a cynic to tears. This free lecture, provided to increase enjoyment and appreciation of Seattle Opera productions, will feature Norm Hollingshead with recorded musical excerpts.
Space is limited. First come, first seated.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Mercer Island Library.

Opera Preview: The Marriage of Figaro Wednesday, January 13, 7pm

This is a nearly perfect opera-hilarious comedy versus class conflict with touching pathos thrown in. Mozart, in his first collaboration with Lorenzo DaPonte, lavished so much glorious music on DaPonte’s libretto that The Marriage of Figaro, even though it caused a scandal when it was first presented in 1784, has never been out of the repertory. Audiences wouldn’t allow it! This free lecture, provided to increase enjoyment and appreciation of Seattle Opera productions, will feature speaker Norm Hollingshead with recorded musical excerpts.
Space is limited. First come, first seated.
Sponsored by the Friends of the Mercer Island Library.