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The Sunday Opera: Two by Mascagni, "L'amico Fritz" & "Lodoletta"

Pietro Mascagni is arguably best known for his first opera “Cavalleria Rusticana,” but on this week’s Sunday Opera (2/27 3:00 p.m.) we’ll be looking at two others. His second opera, “L’amico Fritz” and twelfth of his fifteen works, “Lodoletta.” It’ll be a bit of everything on this week’s program, both centering on leading men who are unaware of the women who love them resulting in a delightful comedy and a heartbreaking melodramatic tragedy.

“L’amico Fritz” centers on Fritz Kobus (Luciano Pavarotti), a wealthy landowner who is sure that he will never marry and enters into a wager with Rabbi David (Vincinzo Sardinero) to that end. However, after picking cherries with Suzel (Mirella Freni), the daughter of one of his tenants, Fritz realizes that he is falling in love with her and is distressed when Rabbi David tells him that Suzel has been promised to another by her father. This is the final straw, and Fritz realizes that he cannot live with Suzel. Rabbi David reveals that Suzel is actually his, and the opera ends happily with Rabbi David giving the vineyard he won from Fritz in the wager to Suzel as a wedding present. Gianandrea Gavazzeni leads the Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

In “Lodoletta,” we find French political exiles in Holland. One, an artist named Flammen (Peter Kelen) befriends Lodoletta (Maria Spacagna) after her foster father Antonio (Laszlo Polgar) dies after falling from a tree that he was decorating for Lodoletta’s birthday. When Flammen is once again allowed to return to France, Lodoletta urges him to return to Paris, but once he leaves, she realizes that she loves him and follows. Back at Flammen’s Paris home, he’s throwing a party on New Year’s Eve when Lodoletta arrives in the red clogs which Flammen bought for her. She’s too embarrassed to enter the house and doesn’t know that Flammen is thinking and worried about her having fallen in love with her. After the party, Flammen finds Lodoletta’s body in the snow. Charles Rosekrans conducts the Hungarian Radio and Television Chorus and the Hungarian State Orchestra.

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