Monday, October 30, 2017

Joyce DiDonato teams up with Ildebrando D'Arcangelo for Semiramide

Honorary Barihunk Joyce DiDonato and Ildebrando D'Arcangelo
Perhaps the hottest opera ticket in Europe for the remainder of 2017 is the run of Rossini's Semiramide at the Royal Opera House in London. The all-star international cast is led by mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato in the title role, bass-barihunk Ildebrando D'Arcangelo as Assur, tenor Lawrence Brownlee as Idreno and mezzo-soprano Daniela Barcellona as Arsace. There probably isn't a better quartet of Rossini specialists in the world today and they'll be performing the entire run from November 19-December 16.

D’Arcangelo made his Royal Opera 21 years ago as Colline in Puccini's La bohème, and since performed a number of roles with the company, including Leporello in Mozart's Don Giovanni, Escamillo in Bizet's Carmen, Selim in Rossini's Il turco in Italia, and Figaro in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro. This season, he is also performing Banquo in Verdi's Macbeth and reprising his Leporello with the company.

Ildebrando D'Arcangelo and Edita Gruberova in the duet from Semiramide:

Ildebrando D'Arcangelo sings Assur's aria from Semiramide:

The opera is based on Voltaire's tragedy Semiramis, which in turn was based on the legend of Semiramis of Assyria. After composing the opera, Rossini moved to Paris and wrote mostly opera in French, except for his comedy Il viaggio a Reims. It is considered one of the last operas to include the baroque tradition with highly decorative singing and vocal pyrotechnics.

The opera was premiered at La Fenice in Venice in 1823 and found its way to London a year later The U.S. premiere was at the St. Charles Theatre in New Orleans on May 1, 1837. By the late 1800s, the opera had virtually disappeared from the repertoire. However, it was chosen in 1880 to inaugurate the Teatro Costanzi in Rome and appeared as part of the Cincinnati Opera Festival 1882, which was attended by Oscar Wilde. The Metropolitan Opera revived Semiramide in 1892, 1894 with Nellie Melba, and again in 1895.

Although the overture is one of several of Rossini's to be widely recorded, the opera is only occasionally performed in modern times. Presentations at La Scala in Milan in December 1962 with Joan Sutherland and Giulietta Simionato required the re-assembly of the entire score from the Rossini autograph, since no other texts were known to exist.

Ildebrando D'Arcangelo appears on two recordings of the opera, one with Edita Gruberova and Juan Diego Flórez, and the other with Ángeles Blancas and Daniela Barcellona.

Barihunks Calendar cover boy Jason Duika
Our 2018 Barihunks Calendar, which includes 20 of opera's sexiest men is now available for purchase HERE. In response to reader demand, we've also added a Barihunks Photo Book this year, which includes additional photos that don't appear in the calendar. You can purchase that HERE. The New Year is approaching faster than you think!

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