The Lyric Stage: August 26 - Richard Tucker in "La Juive"
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 against the backdrop of the Council of Constance in 1414. It was 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 once her affair with Leopold is dicovered Brogni refuses to save Rachel unless she converts to Christianity, which she refuses to do. She 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 he died suddenly in January of 1975 before plans were finalized. But he did make two full length recordings, and we have selections from a 1973 studio recording this week.
Martino Arroyo sings Rachel, La Juive, Anna Moffo the Princess, Juan Sabate Leopold, and Bonaldo Giotti sings Cardinal Brogni, with the Ambrosian Opera chorus and the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Antonio De Almeida.