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The Sunday Opera: Giuseppe Verdi's "Il Corsaro" from The Opera Festival of Chicago

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Giuseppe Verdi’s 13th, and often overlooked opera, “Il Corsaro,” will be the focus of this week’s Sunday Opera (10/30 3:00 p.m.) in a performance from the Opera Festival of Chicago.

Verdi based the plot for this 1848 work on Alfred Lord Byron’s “The Corsair” and centers on the pirate Corrado (Jose Simerilla Romero), who decides to leave his island to attack the Pasha of Coron, Seid (Franco Pompani), because of some “military intelligence” he receives. Just before he leaves, his lover, Medora (Christine Arand), has a premonition of disaster, and warns him not to go, but Corrado is not dissuaded.

The scene changes to the Pasha’s palace where the harem girls, especially Seid’s favorite, Gulnara (Alejandra Sandoval), discuss their fates. Gulnara is especially troubled by her lot. Later, at a banquet, Corrado appears, disguised as a Dervish and initiates the attack as his men set fire to the Pasha’s fleet. Corrado’s men are winning until he notices that the flames have spread to the Harem, and Corrado decides to save the slave girls

Corrado is captured, but with the help of Gulnara, he escapes and heads back to his island. Once he arrives, however, he finds that Medora has taken poison, and she dies in his arms. Inconsolate, Corrado leaps from a nearby cliff, although his men try to stop him, and dies.

Other members of the cast include Frank De Vincentis as the pirate Giovanni, Benjamin Burney as the Eunich, and Andre De Mesquita as an official of the Pasha named Aga Selimo. Emanuele Andrizzi conducts the Opera Festival of Chicago’s Chorus and Orchestra.

We’ll stay at sea for the rest of our time together with Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 1 “A Sea Symphony” featuring soprano Amanda Roocroft and baritone Thomas Hampson, and a lesser-known work by a Greek composer who led a tragic life, Nikos Skalkottas, a charming eleven movement piece simply titled “The Sea” which includes Little Fish, Dolphins, and Dances of the Waves and Mermaids.

Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.
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