The Lyric Stage June 13 at 8PM: "La Juive" with Richard Tucker and Martino Arroyo
Jacques Halevy's La Juive premiered in Paris 1835. It's a sprawling opera in five acts with huge choruses, ballets, and scenic effects all set against the backdrop of the Council of Constance in 1414 - every thing the French opera public would want. It was popular for the century after its premiere, and it was the last opera Caruso added to his repertoire before his death in 1921. While not in the main repertoire today, in the last 20 years the Metropolitan and other companies around the world have revived it.
It is a violent tale of love and anti-semitism. The setting is Constance in Germany 1414. Rachel, La Juive, and Prince Leopold are in love but must hide the fact because the penalty is death for Jews and Christians who fall in love. Her father Eleazar and Cardinal Brogni, the president of the council, have a history - Cardinal Brogni has a daughter who he knows was saved from a fire, yet he does not know where she is. Eleazar knows the secret - he saved the child, Rachel, from the fire, but bitterly refuses to tell Brogni the truth until the very end, because he knows once her affair with Leopold is discovered, Brogni will refuse to save Rachel unless she converts to Christianity, which Eleazar knows she will never do. Rachel does exonerate Leopold, but both she and her father are dropped into a cauldron of boiling water.
Eleazar was natural for Richard Tucker, and he loved the role, and hoped for a production at the Met but any plans ended with his death in January of 1975. But he did make two full length recordings of the opera, and we have selections from the 1973 studio recording this week. There are four tenors in the cast, but Tucker's distinct sound as Eleazar is unmistakeable.
Martino Arroyo sings Rachel, La Juive. Others in the cast are soprano Anna Moffo as the princess, tenor Juan Sabate as Rachel's lover, Leopold, and Bonaldo Giotti as Cardinal Brogni. The Ambrosian Opera chorus and the Philharmonia Orchestra are conducted by Antonio De Almeida.