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The Sunday Opera: Verdi's "Les Vepres Siciliennes" from the Royal Opera

This week, The Sunday Opera (7/11 3:00 p.m.) travels to 13th century Sicily for Giuseppe Verdi’s “Les Vepres Siciliennes.”   The French have invaded and exiled a leading Sicilian patriot named Procida (Erwin Schrott) before the opera has begun, and the action begins with the French soldiers toasting Guy de Montfort (Michael Volle), the French governor of Sicily currently ruling from Palermo.   With him is the sister of Duke Frederic of Austria, Helene (Lianna Haroutounian), who is in deep mourning for her brother whom the French assassinated a year before.  A young Sicilian named Henri (Bryan Hymel) swears that he will avenge Helene’s brother’s death with the only payment being her love.   Through the course of the opera, Procida mounts a rebellion as Henri finds out that he is Monfort’s illegitimate son whom he has been raised to despise.  The opera ends with Monfort blessing the union of his son with Helene as Procida’s forces attack to kill Monfort and the French troups.  Sir Antonio Pappano conducts the Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. 

Once again, we’ll change the mood a bit after the opera when host Michael Kownacky will present Sergei Rachmaninoff’s final major work, a bit of a nostalgia trip for Rachmaninoff as he remembered the “old” Russia he loved in his Symphonic Dances performed by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Mariss Jansons.

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.