Maria Stuarda (La Scala)

Conducted by Antonino Fogliani
Directed by Pier Luigi Pizzi
Starring Mariella Devia and Anna Caterina Antonacci
Sung in Italian with English subtitles
2 hrs 39 mins plus one intermission

“Maria Stuarda” premiered at La Scala in 1835. The opera is famous for the real-life power struggles that took place on stage during the rehearsals, and on opening night, between the two prima donnas. No such drama in this La Scala production, where the luminous Mariella Devia as Maria Stuarda and Anna Caterina Antonacci as Elisabetta came together in wonderful harmony. Act I, Scene 1 – The Palace of Westminster. A tourney is given in honor of the French ambassador, who is negotiating a marriage proposal between Queen Elizabeth and the King of France. While Elizabeth contemplates it out of duty, she secretly pines for Leicester, who is absent from the court. Talbot intercedes on behalf of the royal prisoner Maria Stuart, imprisoned in Fotheringay Castle since fleeing from Scotland. The Queen is torn, at once sympathetic for and wary of Maria; Leicester arrives and is commissioned to take to the French Ambassador Elizabeth’s acceptance of the offer of marriage. Privately, Talbot gives Leicester a portrait of Maria and a letter from her and Leicester resolves to free the woman he loves by any means. His enthusiasm for her rival’s cause reminds Elizabeth of Maria’s attempts to take both the English throne and the man she loves. Scene 2 – The grounds of Fotheringay Castle. As the royal carriage approaches, Maria regrets having asked Elizabeth for a meeting, but supported by Leicester’s assurances, agrees to stay and face her. Elizabeth has mixed feelings, simultaneously dismissive of Cecil’s urgings that she execute Maria and enraged by the fervor with which Leicester argues her rival’s case. The queens confront one another, each suspicious of the other’s motives. Maria makes an effort to humble herself, asking for clemency, but Elizabeth provokes Maria, who in turn taunts her adversary. Furious, Elizabeth advises her to expect her death sentence, but Maria exults in her temporary triumph. INTERMISSION Act II, Scene 1 – The Palace of Westminster. Elizabeth hesitates to sign the death warrant, despite Cecil’s urgings that her safety and that of the realm depend on Maria’s death. Only the arrival of Leicester and his prayers for mercy provoke her into ordering him to witness the execution. Scene 2 – Maria’s apartment in Fotheringay. Maria exults over her humiliation of Elizabeth, but fears that Leicester may be in danger. Cecil brings the death warrant. She admits to Talbot that she is oppressed by her sins and confesses to guilt over the murder of her husband, Darnley. Talbot gives her absolution. Scene 3 – A room next to the execution chamber. Maria’s friends lament her fate, but she faces death calmly. For her last requests, she forgives Elizabeth and tries to calm the grief-stricken Leicester. She goes resolutely to her death as her friends grieve over her fate.

Spartacus from the Bolshoi Ballet

Spartacus from the Bolshoi Ballet
Sunday Nov 17th at 1:30pm
Main Hall

Directed by Yuri Grigorovich
Choreographed by Yuri Grigorovich
Starring Mikhail Lobukhin, Anna Nikulina, Svetlana Zakharova, and Vladislav Lantratov
3 hrs 35 mins estimated including pre-show and two intermissions

The Bolshoi’s grandiose epic Spartacus recounts the story of a Roman slave’s fight for freedom. With its famous Khachaturian score, since the1960s it has been considered one of the greatest ballets in the Bolshoi repertoire.  The choreography by Yuri Grigorovich fills the Bolshoi stage with dynamic scenes of tension and conflict, and gives full expression to the virility and strength for which Russia’s male dancers are renowned.

Nabucco (Teatro alla Scala)

Conducted by Nicola Luisotti
Directed by Daniele Abbado
Choreographed by Simona Bucci
Starring Leo Nucci, Liudmila Monastyrska, Aleksandrs Antonenko, Vitali Kowaljow
Sung in Italian
2 hrs 26 mins plus one intermission

At the opera’s outset, Nabucco (in English, Nebuchadnezzar) and his Babylonian army are at the gates of Jerusalem, the defeat of the Jews imminent.  Nabucco’s younger daughter, Fenena, is being held hostage by the Jews; but she has fallen in love with her jailer, Ismaele.  The couple is preparing to escape when Fenena’s older sister Abigaille learns of their plans and threatens to expose them unless Ismaele becomes her lover.

Abigaille learns that she was adopted by Nabucco, and that he has named as regent Fenena, who converts to Judaism to placate the conquered people.  Nabucco, declaring himself a god, is stunned, though not killed, by a lightning strike, whereupon Abigaille seizes the crown, and issues a death decree for all the Jews, including her recently converted sister.  On regaining his senses, Nabucco sees Fenena being led as a sacrifice to the altar of the god Baal.   Nabucco prays to the god of the Jews, leads a revolt against Abigaille, frees the Jews and promises to build them a new and bigger temple.  Abigaille takes poison, seeks forgiveness and dies; the high priest Zaccaria proclaims Nabucco the king of the world.

The opera closes with the multitude rejoicing, including Fenena and Ismaele who are now free to marry.

Manon (Liceu)

Massenet’s passionate and tragic Manon stars three of today’s operatic luminaries: Rolando Villazón as Chevalier Des Grieux, Samuel Ramey as his father, and the incomparable coloratura Natalie Dessay as Manon herself. From the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona.

Manon (1884) is Massenet’s most popular and famous work and a veritable paradigm of French opera. Based on L’histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost (Amsterdam, 1731), it follows the original more closely than most other operas on the same topic. It tells the tale of two adolescents —an attractive young girl on her way to a convent and a provincial nobleman who has fallen madly in love with her— who elope to Paris. There life’s harsh realities uncover their true characters. Manon is ambitious and yearns for comfort and luxury to the point of betraying her lover and prostituting herself. The weak, ingenuous Des Grieux, on the other hand, falls into a milieu of gambling and violence. In the novel Manon is deported to Louisiana and dies there in the arms of her repentant lover; in the opera this episode is reduced to Des Grieux’s bid to free her on the quayside at Le Havre, where she expires from exhaustion.


Conducted by Gianluigi Martinenghi
Directed by Enrico Castiglione
Starring Carlos Almaguer, Gianluca Terranova, Rocio Ignacio, Gianfranco Montresor
Sung in Italian
2 hrs 20 mins plus two intermissions

Don Giovanni (La Scala)

Conducted by Daniel Barenboim
Directed by Robert Carsen
Choreographed by Philippe Giraudeau
Starring Anna Netrebko, Bryn Terfel & Peter Mattei
Sung in Italian with English subtitles
3 hrs 15 mins including one intermission

Mozart’s ultimate bad boy meets his match in Anna Netrebko, the opera world’s “hottest female star.” Don Giovanni LIVE stars Peter Mattei as the philandering Don, with Bryn Terfel as his sidekick Leporello, and the velvety voiced Ms. Netrebko as the much-abused Donna Anna. This audience favorite, for both its surprisingly modern plot and soaring melodies, is broadcast LIVE from opening night at La Scala, with Daniel Barenboim at the podium.

Rigoletto (Teatro Antico di Taormina)

Conducted by Gianluigi Martinenghi
Directed by Enrico Castiglione
Starring Carlos Almaguer, Gianluca Terranova, Rocio Ignacio, Gianfranco Montresor
Sung in Italian
2 hrs 20 mins plus two intermissions


Rigoletto: Carlos Almaguer
Duke of Mantua: Gianluca Terranova
Gilda: Rocio Ignacio
Count Monterone: Gianfranco Montresor
Sparafucile: Emanuele Cordaro
Magdalene: Sofi Koberidze


Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Director & Set Designer: Enrico Castiglione
Conductor:  Gianluigi Martinenghi
Orchestra: Sinfonica Bellini
Chorus Lirico Siciliano
Choir Master: Francesco Costa
Costumes: Sonia Cammarata

Performed live on July 9, 2013



The Sleeping Beauty (Bolshoi Ballet)

This screening is free as a part of ArtsFest!
Choreographed by Yuri Grigorovich (1973) after Marius Petipa
Starring David Hallberg and Svetlana Zakharova
2 hrs 50 mins estimated, including pre-show and one intermission


King Florestan XIV and the Queen are celebrating the birth of Princess Aurora. In the palace preparations are underway for a ban­quet. Master of Ceremonies Catalabutte is checking the list of guests. Guests and members of the court arrive and congratulate the king and queen. The Lilac Fairy and the Good Fairies present their gifts to the infant princess, endowing her with the finest human attributes.

Suddenly a great noise is heard: the wicked and powerful Carabosse Fairy appears. Catalabutte has forgotten to invite her to the banquet. The Master of Ceremonies is out of his mind with anxiety for his mis­take may result in dire misfortune for the Princess in her future life. In a fit of anger Carabosse foretells that Aurora will die young from pricking her finger with a knitting spindle. All are overcome by despair. But the Lilac Fairy forces Carabosse to leave the palace and predicts a reprieve from death for Aurora: “In a hundred years’ time the princess, and the whole kingdom, will be awakened to happiness by a handsome prince”.

Act I

It is Princess Aurora’s sixteenth birthday. Four princes have come to court her. The King and Queen urge her to make a choice. But Aurora, who is full of youth and the joys of life, refuses to listen to her parents’ entreaties. At the height of the festivities and old woman comes up to Aurora and, unnoticed, hands her a knitting spindle. Trusting Aurora takes it and continues to dance. Suddenly she stops dancing and gazes in horror at her finger which she has accidentally pricked with the spin­dle. Aurora is overcome by deadly cold and she dies. The old woman throws off her hood – it is Fairy Carabosse! Whirling about maliciously, she disappears in a cloud of smoke. A dreadful misfortune has overtak­en the kingdom.
The Lilac Fairy appears: she has the power to mitigate evil! Aurora has­n’t died, she has fallen asleep for a hundred years. She will be woken up by the passionate kiss of a handsome prince. The Lilac Fairy puts the whole kingdom to sleep for a hundred years.

Act II

Scene 1
A century has passed. Prince Desire is hunting on his domain, but he is not particularly engrossed in the chase. He is haunted by a beautiful dream.
Suddenly the Lilac Fairy appears before the Prince. She summons a vision of Aurora surrounded by ethereal nerdish. Enchanted, the Prince hurries after the vision but, on a command from the Lilac Fairy, it disap­pears.
Desire implores the Lilac Fairy to search for the beautiful maiden who has captivated his heart. The Lilac Fairy and the Prince set sail in the magic boat and make for the bewitched royal castle.

Scene 2
Darkness and desolation reign in the sleeping kingdom. It is guarded by the wicked Carabosse Fairy.

The Lilac Fairy and Prince Desire approach rapidly. Fairy Carabosse and her retinue try to hide Aurora, but the Prince catches sight of her.

Captivated by Aurora, he kisses her tenderly. And the evil spell is broken! Carabosse and her retinue disappear. Aurora wakes up, and with her the whole kingdom. The Princess gazes at her deliverer and love is born in her heart. Desire asks the King and Queen for Aurora’s hand.


The wedding of Aurora and Desire. The Fairy-tale Characters have come to the celebrations: Princess Florine and Blue Bird, Puss in Boots and White Cat, Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, Cinderella and the Prince.


The Lilac Fairy and her retinue give their blessing for a happy life to the bride and groom.

2013 Fall Ballet & Opera Series





Fall 2013 Opera & Ballet Sundays at 1:30pm (except where noted)

Sep 29 The Sleeping Beauty Bolshoi Ballet *(at 2:30pm – Free to all as a part of ArtsWestchester)

Oct 6 Rigoletto (Teatro Antico di Taormina) Buy Now

Oct 13 Don Giovanni from La Scala Buy Now

Oct 20 Manon from Teatre del Liceu (opera with Natalie Dessay and Rolando Villazon) Buy Now

Oct 27 Kenneth Branagh’s The Magic Flute film Nov 3 Nabucco from Teatro alla Scala Buy Now

Nov 3     Nabucco from Teatro alla Scala Buy Now

Nov 10  Il Trittico from Teatro alla Scala Buy Now

Nov 17 Spartacus from Bolshoi Ballet Buy Now

Nov 24 Maria Stuarda from Teatro alla Scala (opera with Mariella Devia and Anna Caterina Antonacci) Buy Now

Dec 8 Le Corsaire from the Bolshoi Ballet Buy Now

Dec 15 The Nutcracker

Dec 22 La Rondine from Teatro La Fenice (opera with Fiorenza Cedolins) Buy Now

Carmen (Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour)


The action takes place in Seville. Don José, who was training for the priesthood in his native Basque country, killed a man in a quarrel and has had to enlist in the army in Seville. His mother and Micaëla, who loves him and hopes to marry him, have followed him to the south and live in a village near the city.


A square in Seville

While Moralès and his soldiers are chatting about the passers-by, Micaëla comes looking for Don José, a corporal. Moralès explains that Don José is in another company that will shortly take over the guard, but Micaëla decides not to wait. The new guard led by Zuniga arrives, followed by a swarm of children. Moralès tells Don José that Micaëla was asking for him. While Zuniga is curious about the tobacco factory women who work nearby, Don José is uninterested.

The cigarette women come out of the factory for a break. Carmen attracts most of the attention, but she tells the men that she will love only someone who does not love her. She tosses a flower to Don José who, perturbed by the gesture, quickly hides it. Micaëla returns with a letter to Don José from his mother in which she forgives him his crime and asks him to return to marry Micaëla.

Uproar in the factory spills out into the square as Carmen and another woman quarrel.  Carmen insolently refuses to answer for her fight, so Zuniga orders her to be imprisoned. Don José is left to guard her, but she promises to love him if he helps her escape. Don José lets her go and is himself arrested.


Lillas Pastia’s Tavern

Carmen, Frasquita, Mercédès and the gypsies are dancing. The victorious torero Escamillo arrives with a crowd of admirers. He is drawn to Carmen but she shows no interest. The crowd and soldiers leave.

The smugglers Remendado and Dancaïre try to enlist the help of Carmen, Frasquita and Mercédès in some of their plans. Carmen refuses: she is in love and waiting for Don José. Incredulous and mocking, the men suggest she brings Don José with her. Having been released from prison, Don José arrives and Carmen dances for him. When he responds to the summons back to barracks Carmen accuses him of not loving her.  In answer, Don José describes how in prison he treasured the flower she threw at him. If he really loves her, Carmen says, he will desert the army and go with her to the mountains. Zuniga reappears to meet Carmen and he discourages Don José. They fight, but when Remendado and Dancaïre disarm Zuniga, José decides to join the smugglers, leaving behind his former life.


In the mountains

The smugglers rest while a safe route to Seville is reconnoitred. Don José is still obsessed with Carmen; she, however, is tired of him but senses that he may kill her if she leaves him.

Frasquita and Mercédès read their fortunes in the cards; when Carmen joins them she only turns up cards that foretell her death. Dancaïre and Remendado return, and the gypsy women leave, enthusiastic at their task of distracting the customs officers who have been spotted on the smugglers’ route. Don José is left to guard the contraband.

Micaëla comes alone looking for Don José. A shot frightens her and she hides; it was Don José firing at an intruder: Escamillo.  Having heard that Carmen no longer loves her soldier, Escamillo has come after her. Enraged at this, Don José appears and challenges Escamillo to a fight. They are interrupted by Carmen herself. Escamillo invites the assembled company to his next bullfight in Seville and leaves. Still jealous, Don José threatens Carmen.

Micaëla is discovered in hiding. She begs Don José to return to his mother, who is calling for him. Carmen urges him to go. He is suspicious of her motives for encouraging him, but when Micaëla reveals that his mother is dying and wants to forgive him, he agrees to return with her. Escamillo is heard in the distance.


Outside a bullring in Seville

A crowd has gathered to watch the procession before the bullfight. Escamillo is accompanied by Carmen. Her friends Frasquita and Mercédès warn her that Don José is in the crowd.  She decides to wait and talk to him, but when they meet he pleads with her to go away with him. She will not, as she no longer loves him. As the crowd is heard cheering Escamillo’s success at killing the bull, Carmen confesses she now loves the torero and returns Don José’s ring. He kills her.

Giselle (Royal Ballet)

Giselle is one of the most influential of all Romantic ballets, and one of the greatest and most popular works of the dance canon and of The Royal Ballet’s repertory. The title role presents the transcendental power of a woman’s love in the face of betrayal and is one of the most technically demanding and emotionally challenging roles in classical dance – not surprisingly, it is here a great showcase for the leading ballerinas of the Company. Peter Wright’s sensitive staging in the atmospheric designs by John Macfarlane heightens the contrast as the story moves between the human and supernatural worlds. –