Opera Preview: Semele, George Frideric Handel

Come and hear Norm Hollingshead present a program on the opera Semele. Although Semele contains some of the most beautiful music that Handel ever wrote, it is rarely performed in the Pacific Northwest. This opera is based on the classical myth of Semele, who was the mortal mother of Dionysus.The Opera Preview is scheduled for Wednesday, February 18th at 7:00 pm.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Mercer Island Library

Opera Preview: The Tales of Hoffman Wednesday, April 23, 7 p.m.

musicnotesBy the mid-1870s Jacques Offenbach’s career as “The King of Operetta” was over. In addition he was ill and getting worse. Yet he wanted to write a full-length “real opera” before he died. The result was “The Tales of Hoffman”, a 3 act fantasy opera based on stories of E.T.A. Hoffmann. Offenbach lavished some of the most beautiful and imaginative melodies he ever wrote on Olympia, the “Mechanical Doll”, or Antonia, the consumptive soprano who sings herself to death, or the basso-devil who uses a magic diamond to steal the souls of his victims. Sadly, Hoffman died four months before the first performance of his Tales of Hoffman in 1881 and did not live to see its world-wide success which continues to this day.
Sponsored by the Friends of the Mercer Island Library.

Opera Preview: The Consul by Gian Carlo Menotti, Wednesday, Feb. 12th, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, February 12, 7pm

Presented by Norm Hollingshead.
Italian-American Gian Carlo Menotti  (1911-2007) was one of the most prolific (and popular) opera composers of the last half of the 20th Century with more than two dozen operas to his credit, written over an almost 50 year span. The Consul is set in an unnamed totalitarian country in the mid-20th Century. It is a grim story of Cold War politics, in which Magda Sorel, the embattled wife of a political fugitive, tries to keep herself, her infant child, and her aged mother-in law alive as her husband evades the secret police. Her only hope is to receive an all-important visa from the Consul, but to do that she must surmount a bureaucratic nightmare. In Act 3, help is finally on the way, but will it be too late for Magda? Sponsored by Friends of the Mercer Island Library.

Opera Preview: Rigoletto. Wednesday, January 6th, 7 p.m.

Please join our host Norm Hollingshead for a discussion of Rigoletto. Not only is the dramatic story told by music that combines gripping power with imperishable tunes but also, for the first time, Verdi’s huge heart was revealed to his public. In Rigoletto, music and drama combine in a way that has captured the heart of opera audiences for more than 160 years. Don’t miss it! Sponsored by the Friends of the Mercer Island Library.

Opera Preview: Daughter of the Regiment. October 16th

Presented by Norm Hollingshead
Wednesday, October 16, 7pm
Mercer Island Library

When Gaetano Donizetti, the reigning “King of Italian Opera”,
moved to Paris in 1839, opera lovers wondered if he would be
able to succeed in the “Operatic Capital of the World”.
Donizetti responded a year later with his first French opera, the comic
romp Daughter of the Regiment. It was a smash hit then and continued
to be so for decades. In the 20th Century, though, it fell into the shade,
only returning to the spotlight in the early 1970s when Luciano Pavarotti
dazzled audiences with the 9 High C’s in his famous Act I aria.
Since then, Daughter of the Regiment has charged back into popularity as audiences
have grown to love the lovely melodies and zany comedy of this wonderful piece.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Mercer Island Library.

Opera Previews: The Ring of the Nibelungen by Richard Wagner Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Starts June 25

The Ring of the Nibelungen ring-of-firewas first performed in its entirety at Bayreuth in the summer of 1876. The world had seen nothing like it-a music/drama cycle of incredible scope-four complete operas in four nights with 16 hours of performing time. That should have put off opera audiences used to a single opera and 3 hours running time. Instead Wagner’s Ring has fascinated opera audiences, more now than ever, especially in Seattle.

Norm Hollingshead will offer the following previews:

Tuesday, June 25, 7pm: Das Rheingold

Tuesday, July 9, 7pm: Die Walkure

Tuesday, July 16, 7pm: Siegfried

Tuesday, July 23, 7pm: Gotterdammerung

Sponsored by the Friends of the Mercer Island Library.



Opera Previews: La Boheme

Wednesday, February 20, 7pm
Presented by Norm Hollingshead.
Giacomo Puccini is the most popular opera composer of our time. Almost all of his operas end sadly, but that seems to attract rather than repel

opera audiences around the world. His 4th opera, La Boheme, is the saddest of all. In this opera the deadly villain is not another human,

but rather poverty and disease. Puccini’s genius at finding just the right melody to depict the happiness and heartache

of the doomed couple, Mimi and Rodolfo,draws sell-out crowds wherever it is performed.

Sponsored by the Mercer Island Friends of the Library.

La Boheme