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The Sunday Opera: Giacomo Meyerbeer's "Dinorah"

Giacomo Meyerbeer wrote some lovely operas and has been looked at as the link between Mozart and Wagner. This week’s Sunday Opera (2/12 3:00 p.m.) will look at his 1859 work “Dinorah” which has a libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carre based on two Breton stories by Emile Souvestre. Meyerbeer was a highly successful and beloved composer until one of his students, Richard Wagner, took it upon himself to begin a campaign to discredit Meyerbeer which was seen to be born out of Wagner’s contempt for people who were Jewish.

The music is wonderful, but as is the case in many operas, the story is just silly.

Dinorah (Deborah Cook) is in love with a goatherd name Hoel (Christian du Plessis). When they are about to be married, Dinorah’s house is inexplicably blown down. Hoel leaves the village to find a treasure about which he’s heard which causes Dinorah to believe that she’s been abandoned, so she goes operatically insane and sets off through the woods in her wedding gown to find her goat, Bellah, that she believes to be lost.

Hoel sets off to find the treasure with a bagpiper named Corentin (Alexander Oliver) because there seems to be a curse on the treasure: whomever touches it first will die. Hoel thinks he can trick Corentin into touching the treasure first, but that doesn’t pan out.

Since this is an “opera comique,” this has a happy ending even with the treasure being simply forgotten about. The rest of the cast includes Della Jones, Marilyn Hill Smith, Roderick Earle, and Ian Caley. James Judd conducts the Geoffrey Mitchell Choir and the Philharmonia Orchestra.

The rest of the afternoon will be filled with music of Meyerbeer after the opera including the dramatic oratorio for soprano and clarinet entitled “Gli amor di Teolinda” (“The Loves of Teolinda”) with soprano Julia Varady and clarinetist Jorge Fadle. We’ll also hear Meyerbeer’s moving treatment of Psalm 91 feature Margaret Feaviour and Andrew Murgatroyd.

Join us for some lovely music by another often overlooked composer.

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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