Downtown Bayreuth, August, 2015
German parents: less worried than their American counterparts.
Marianna Pizzolato will make her Met debut as Isabella, the title character in L’Italiana in Algeri, which she now sings in all performances of Rossini’s comedy at the Met this season. The Italian mezzo-soprano replaces Elizabeth DeShong, who has withdrawn from the run due to illness.
Maria Zifchak will replace Ms. Pizzolato as Hedwige in the first four performances of the new production of Rossini’s Guillaume Tell, which are October 18, 21, 25, and 29 matinee. Pizzolato will sing the role as scheduled in the final four performances of the run, on November 2, 5, 9, and 12 matinee.
Marianna Pizzolato has recently sung the role of Isabella at Toulouse’s Théâtre du Capitole, Florence’s Opera di Firenze, Liège’s Opéra Royal de Wallonie, and Bologna’s Teatro Comunale. Her other recent performances have included Emma in Rossini’s Zelmira at Paris’s Théâtre des Champs-Elysées and Opéra Lyon; Fenena in Verdi’s Nabucco at Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu and the Royal Opera, Covent Garden; Elisabetta in Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda at the Gran Teatre del Liceu; and the title role in Rossini’s La Cenerentola at the Opéra Royal de Wallonie, Opéra National de Paris, and Seville’s Teatro de la Maestranza.
Maria Zifchak has sung more than 300 Met performances over the course of her 18-year career with the company. Her numerous other roles at the Met this season will include the Old Shepherdess in Janáček’s Jenůfa, the Slave in Strauss’s Salome, Third Lady in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Giovanna in Verdi’s Rigoletto, and Annina in Verdi’s La Traviata. Her other recent appearances with the company have included Ines in Verdi’s Il Trovatore, Hannah in Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda, and Suzuki in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, a role she has sung 83 times at the Met.
Casting and Performance Dates
L’Italiana in Algeri, conducted by the Met’s Music Director Emeritus, James Levine, will also star René Barbera in his Met debut as Lindoro, Nicola Alaimo as Taddeo, and Ildar Abdrazakov as Mustafà. The revival opens October 4 and continues on October 7, 12, 15, 20, 22, 26, and 29.
The new production of Guillaume Tell will be conducted by Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi and directed by Pierre Audi. Gerald Finley sings the title role, with Marina Rebeka as Mathilde, Janai Brugger as Jemmy, Bryan Hymel as Arnold, Marco Spotti in his Met debut as Walter Furst, Kwangchul Youn as Melcthal, and John Relyea as Gesler. Guillaume Tell opens October 18, with additional performances on October 21, 25, 29 matinee, November 2, 5, 9, and 12 matinee.Well, that's quite a good cast for the Rossini; René Barbara would be worth the price of admission along. (Levine conducting Rossini? Okay.) Of course Guillaume Tell is one of the greatest operas in the repertory and hasn't been done at the Met in 85 years. I'm astonished it isn't getting an HD broadcast.
American artist Charles Workman is a versatile artist whose early career saw him in the forefront of Rossini and Mozart tenors while also being highly-regarded in early music, French repertory and 20th-century and contemporary music. Following initial debuts at the Metropolitan Opera, Workman moved to Europe in 1995 where he has performed to great success with the leading opera companies and orchestras including the Paris Opéra, London’s Royal Opera, Milan’s La Scala, Moscow’s Bolshoi, Madrid’s Teatro Real, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and the companies of Geneva, Zurich, Lyon, Munich and Prague. Upcoming engagements include The Drum Major in Wozzeck for Geneva; Nobile in Thomas Adès’ The Exterminating Angel for the Royal Opera, Covent Garden; Edmund in Lear for Salzburg Festival and various roles in Honegger’s Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher in Madrid.Welcome to San Francisco, Mr. Workman!
In November and December, tenor Vincenzo Costanzo will sing the role of Lt. B. F. Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly. A native of Naples, Italy, Costanzo has had a fast rising international career and has worked with such distinguished conductors and directors as Daniel Oren, Myung-whun Chung, Franco Zeffirelli and Liliana Cavani. He recently performed to great success the role of Pinkerton in Milan with La Verdi Orchestra, Florence, Piacenza and Venice; Verdi’s Macbeth at the Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam; the role of Rodolfo in Luisa Miller at Madrid’s Teatro Real; Nabucco at the Reggia di Caserta; and also sang Alfredo in La Traviata at the AIDS Gala at Deutsche Oper Berlin. Costanzo’s future engagements include Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera in Piacenza and Modena; Madama Butterfly in Madrid and Venice; La Rondine in Berlin; Macbeth in Palermo; Simon Boccanegra in Liège and La Bohème in Salzburg.He's making his SFO and United States opera debut. Welcome!
Paul Appleby will sing the role of Don Ottavio in this season’s September and October performances of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, replacing Rolando Villazón, who has withdrawn due to illness. In addition to the October 15 matinee, which Appleby was already scheduled to sing, the American tenor will now perform the role on September 27, October 1 matinee, 5, 8, 11, 19, and 22 matinee.
The story is heavy on melodrama. After an appealing choral scene for the contented Gypsies, an old man (here the stentorian bass Kevin Thompson) tells a somber tale of a woman he once loved who ran off with a man from another camp. Aleko (the sturdy bass Stefan Szkafarowsky), who is married to the winsome young Zemfira (the dark-toned soprano Inna Dukach), says he would never put up with such a betrayal. But Zemfira has fallen for a dashing young lover (the bright tenor Jason Karn) and flaunts her affair in Aleko’s face. After an anguished aria of despair, a highlight of the score, Aleko kills the young lovers and is banished from the camp.
First, meet our new co-principal French horn, Mark Almond. Mark hails from the north of England and has played with almost all of the major UK orchestras. He is a spectacular musician but, if you can believe this, he is also a fully qualified physician specializing in respiratory and general internal medicine. While in the UK he would squeeze in hours between hospital shifts to take on jobs with groups like the London Symphony Orchestra, one of the most demanding orchestras in the world. And he has a young family as well! Mark isn’t planning on taking the medical boards here in California but, if we ever have to ask for a doctor in the house, we now need look no further than the pit!
Mark is co-principal horn alongside our other incredible co-principal, Kevin Rivard. Why, you may ask, do we have two principal horns? The horn is one of the most demanding instruments there is to play, putting huge strain on the lips. Professional orchestras routinely have two principal horns, allowing the players to spread the workload and remain in peak form. I can empathize with that lip strain: I played French horn myself for a while before braces at 16 put a stop to that…