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The Sunday Opera: Giacomo Meyerbeer's "Il Crociato in Egitto"

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A nineteenth century “forgotten masterpiece” by Jakob Beer is the focus of this week’s Sunday Opera (4/25 3:00 p.m.) entitled “Il crociato in Egitto” (“The Crusader in Egypt”).  The composer is, of course, Giacomo Meyerbeer who penned some 19 operas, and “Egitto” is his twelfth opera, the last of what is labeled his “Italian operas.”  Meyerbeer’s score includes wonderfully imaginative use of the orchestra and layered singing that was ahead of its time.   The libretto by Gaetano Rossi looks at the story of a Crusader, Armando, who is thought to have died in Egypt, but instead, has assumed the life of a Muslim and has fallen in love and secretly married Palmide, the daughter of Sultan Aladino.   The opera is based primarily on the conflict faced by Armando who is torn between his love and his religion. 

When Armando’s fiancé, Felicia arrives with the Crusaders (during the 6th Crusade) along with Armando’s uncle, Adriano di Monfort, the changes in relationship between the Muslims and Christians and the pressure placed on Armando by his uncle are further exacerbated by the machinations of the wicked vizier Osmino who hopes to use the conflict caused by the Crusaders to overthrow the Sultan.   Believe it or not, there is a happy ending and some marvelous operatic fireworks along the way.  

The recording to which we’ll be listening comes from a 2007 production at the Teatro la Fenice in Venice, the same house where it premiered in 1824.   Our cast includes Michael Maniaci at Armondo, Patrizia Ciofi as Palmide, Marco Vinco as Aladino, Laura Polverelli as Felicia, Fernando Potari as Adriano, and Iorio Zennaro as Osmino.   The Orchestra and Chorus of la Fenice is conducted by Emmanuel Villaume.

Join us for a happy afternoon of fabulous music by the man who has been called "the best-remembered forgotten composer of the nineteenth century."

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.