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The Sunday Opera: Gioachino Rossini's "La Gazza Ladra" with Katia Riccarelli, William Matteuzzi, and Samuel Ramey

For many, the only part of this week’s Sunday Opera (3/5 3:00 p.m.) is its overture which appears in orchestra programs and on classical radio quite often. However, this week, you’ll get to hear the entre score for Gioachino Rossini’s “La Gazza Ladra” in a delightful recording featuring some often overlooked singers.

The opera premiered in 1817 at La Scala after which Rossini revised it at least five times for productions in Pesaro, Naples, and Paris. It premiered in the United States in New Orleans in 1824 and would make it to the old Metropolitan Opera House at the beginning of the twentieth century where it would be seen until 1915 and not revived since.

The story centers on Ninetta (Katia Riccarelli), the servant of Fabrizio and Lucia Vingradito (Roberto Coviello and Luciana d’Intino), who is in love with the Vingradito’s son, Giannetto (William Matteuzzi), and everyone wants them to be married, except for Lucia.

Ninetta is falsely accused of theft when a silver fork and spoon go missing, and the Mayor (Samuel Ramey) pronounces the draconian sentence for this is death which pleases Lucia to no end. It also serves the Mayor’s plans as he wants Ninetta to be his bride, and he tells Ninetta that he will save her if she agrees to be his wife.

What follows includes Giannetto, Antonio (Pierre Lefebre) the prison warder, and Ninetta’s father Fernando (Ferruccio Furlanetto), who is in trouble himself having gone AWOL, and Pippo (Bernadette Manca di Nissa) a young peasant who works for Vingradito trying desperately to save Ninetta.

Just as Ninetta is about to be hanged, Pippo and Antonio call out from the bell tower that they have found the silver and other “lost” items in the nest of “the thieving magpie,” Ninetta is exonerated, Fernado is pardoned by the king, and everyone, except the, Mayor and Lucia, enjoy a very happy ending.

Gianluigi Gelmetti conducts the Prague Philharmonic Chorus and the Italian Radio and Television Symphonic Orchestra of Torino.

More Rossini is on tap after the opera with a variety of selections from Rossini’s “Sins of Old Age” performed by a variety of people. In the six selections you’ll hear pianists Kerstin Hindart, Aldo Ciccolini, Bruno Canino, and Janine Reiss. Our vocalists include sopranos Cathy Berberian and Mady Mesple, mezzo Jane Berbie, and the Stockholm Chamber Choir, and we’ll finish our afternoon together with the London Symphony Orchestra with an orchestral arrangement of what is possibly the best-known work of the set, “La Danza.”

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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