Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Pocket Opera to Present the Bel Canto Borgia

The next San Francisco offering by Pocket Opera will be given at the middle of next month. Having presented the elegance of eighteenth-century opera buffa this past Sunday, the company will advance boldly into the nineteenth century with bel canto in the service of narrative at its most lurid. The very title of the opera is enough to stimulate expectations, Lucrezia Borgia; and its composer, Gaetano Donizetti is associated with the bel canto style at its most luscious. The libretto by Felice Romani is based on the play of the same name by Victor Hugo.

Those expecting a musical account of Neil Jordan’s dramatization of the machinations of the entire Borgia family at the time when its patriarch was elected Pope Alexander VI (broadcast here on Showtime between 2011 and 2013) may be disappointed. Lucrezia is the only member of the family to be included in Hugo’s cast. The narrative is concerned primarily with her reputation for knowing where all the bodies are buried (including those of her third husband and her son), having been the one to put them there. From Donizetti’s point of view, this was just the sort of character that deserved bel canto expressiveness at its most passionate; and, for this performance, that expressiveness will be realized by soprano Rabihah Davis Dunn.

Rabihah Davis Dunn in costume for the title role in Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia (photograph by Nicolas Aliaga Garcia)

The roles of the men closest to Lucrezia in Hugo’s narrative will be taken by bass Shouvik Mondle as Lucrezia’s husband, Alfonso d’Este, Duke of Ferrara, and tenor Michael Desnoyers as Gennaro, who discovers that he is her son only after he has been poisoned by her. The opera will be sung in English to allow the family details to have their greatest impact. Musical direction will be by David Drummond. The production will be staged by Nicolas Aliaga Garcia.

This performance will take place at the Legion of Honor, beginning at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 17. The Legion of Honor is located in Lincoln Park. It is approached by following 34th Street north of Clement Street (which is the southern boundary of the park). General admission is $50 with a discounted rate of $45 for seniors. Tickets will be sold at the door beginning at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are also available at the presale rate of $47 for general admission and $44 for seniors. Presale is being processed online through a Vendini event page, which allows for individual seat selection.

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