Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) wrote 32 Operas. That’s a lot!
On Wednesday 2nd April I was at the Sarasota Opera House to enjoy I due Foscari - performed first at the Teatro Argentina, Rome, in 1844. (One hundred years before I was born).
Maestro Victor DeRenzi in his 26th year as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of Sarasota Opera, is aiming to perform the entire Verdi Opera “Canon”, so we were treated to I due Foscari in its first USA performance in forty years.
I was there with good friends M, E and J.
M is a most gracious and thoughtful woman. It’s a joy to be in her company.
E is an Opera buff. He knows more about Opera than I know about G-d.
J is E’s partner. He hates (or pretends to hate) all Opera.
(I asked him if he saw any Opera before he met E.
E replied - “yes he saw “Jesus Christ, Superstar”!)
So, on Wednesday, I was in a Box with these three.
At the first intermission J said: “This is the first time in 40 years that I due Foscari has been performed in the U.S.A., and I understand why”.
E complained that there was no “action” in the Opera, and both he and J agreed that the plot was thin.
In the meantime, M and I enjoyed the spectacular sets and costumes, and the wonderful voices of the soloists and chorus. We cared not one whit about the “plot”, but simply enjoyed the music.
At the second intermission I teased E. “At least”, I said, “you will have bragging rights. You will be able to say that you heard the first USA performance of I due Foscari in 40 years.
He grinned, and M said that: “he needs no bragging rights about Opera”.
In all of this I was in awe and wonder. I know next to nothing about Opera, but have always thought that I’d like it. Now I have enjoyed three Operas in March/April 2008, and anticipate a great performance of Mozart’s “Cosi fan Tutte” next week.
Yes “awe and wonder”. I am still 11 years old!
BUT WAIT - THERE IS MORE !
I get weepy when I think about what followed on Thursday 3rd.
At the Opera, M asked me if I would care to join her for Thursday night Concert at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Centre, as her partner J could not attend.
I accepted her invitation, but all, through Thursday I wished otherwise. Two evenings out in consecutive days seemed all too much. Besides which, the Concert would feature a piece by Mahler - and I do not like Mahler’s Music.
(I do not like what I do not know!).
But I took myself to the Van Wezel. Maggie (warm hearted Maggie) was pleased to see me.
And what followed moved me to awe and wonder, and to tears.
It was a performance of Mahler’s Symphony # 2 - subtitled by some as “The Resurrection Symphony”.
Performed by the Florida West Symphony Orchestra and the Key Chorale, with soloists Kristin Clayton (Soprano) and Susanna Guzman (Alto) -- this concert “blew my mind away”.
Even 24 hours later I get teary eyed at the memory of this music, performed to world class standards in Sarasota, FL.
How blessed I am!