Thursday Night Opera House

Scene from La Boheme. Photo: Evan Zimmerman, Met Opera

Grand Opera: A Sound Delight

The Classical Station offers two wonderful opportunities each week to hear the best in opera: Thursday nights at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday afternoons at 1:00 p.m. eastern from December through May. The Thursday Night Opera House has been a regular Thursday night feature on The Classical Station since April of 1980. On Saturday afternoons from December through May, we broadcast the Metropolitan Opera Saturday afternoon matinees.

Al Ruocchio hosted the Thursday Night Opera House from 1980 until his death in 2007. Bob Chapman hosted the Thursday Night Opera House, succeeding Robert Galbraith, from December 2008 until February 2022.  Dr. Jay Pierson assumed the duties of host of the Thursday Night Opera House in March 2022.

Fall 2022

September 1
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Il Re Pastore (The Shepherd King)
A quartet of lovers, similar to those in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, weigh the demands of love against the demands of kingship.

September 8
Sigmund Romberg: The Student Prince
In order to find true love, Prince Karl Franz (Rendall) enters Heidelberg University incognito. Is he successful in keeping his identity secret?

September 15
Camille Saint-Saëns: Samson et Dalila
Based on the biblical story of Sampson and Delilah, this work is Camille Saint-Saëns’ crowning achievement. (An archival broadcast by the late Al Ruocchio.)

September 22
Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein: The Sound of Music
Set in Austria on the eve of the Anschluss in 1938, the musical tells the story of Maria who takes a job as governess to a large family with the intention of becoming a nun…or not.  She falls in love with the children and eventually their father, Captain Von Trapp.

September 29
Ernest Chausson’s Le Roi Arthus
An amazing retelling of the Arthurian legend complete with Lancelot (Winbergh), Guinevere (Żylis-Gara), and Merlin the wizard (Cachemaille).

October 6
W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan: The Pirates of Penzance
Frederick (Lewis) is released from a band of tender-hearted pirates by contract. He meets the Major-General Stanley’s daughter, Mabel (Morison). Will Frederick’s leap-year birthday confuse his release date (and his plans with Mabel), or will the Major-General (Baker) have a change of heart?

October 13
Gioachino Rossini: Ermoine
A musical mystery… This premiered in 1819, closed after only seven performances, and was not heard again for a century. Rossini loved the opera, calling it his “Little William Tell.”

October 20
Giuseppe Verdi: Un Ballo In Maschera (The Masked Ball)
Riccardo (Bergonzi), the governor of Boston, is throwing a masked ball. Riccardo is in love with Amelia (Nilsson), but Amelia is married to Riccardo’s friend, Renato (MacNeil). (Archival broadcast by the late Al Ruocchio)

November 3
Georges Bizet: Carmen
When the lives of Carmen (Norman) and Don José (Schicoff) collide, their stories culminate in jealousy, deceit, and murder. (Archival broadcast by the late Al Ruocchio)

November 10
Richard Wagner: The Flying Dutchman
Every seven years, the Flying Dutchman (Adam), condemned to roam the sea for defiling God, is cast ashore to seek redemption. Only the love of a woman willing to sacrifice her life for him can release him from his curse.

November 17
Jules Massenet: Cherubin
Cherubin is an entertaining comic opera, first performed in 1905 with Mary Garden in the lead (trouser) role. The story takes place where The Marriage of Figaro leaves off!

November 24
Aaron Copland: The Tender Land
American opera is alive and well! Set in the Rural Midwest during the Great Depression, The Tender Land is a beautiful, simple story about a young woman’s coming of age.

 

Summer 2022

June 2
George Frederic Handel: Rodelinda
Rodelinda is stricken with grief, believing that her husband, Bertirino, is dead, but is he? Several suitors try to steal her heart, yet she remains faithful to her husband’s memory. All is well that ends well and her husband returns, making a joyous ending to this masterpiece.

June 9
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Cosi fan tutte
Comic opera at its best! Two gentlemen are in love with women who are sisters, and they devise a plot to test their fidelity. The men go off to a fictitious war and return disguised as Balkan soldiers. They try to seduce each other’s lover. Do the sisters give in? Tune in and find out.

June 16
Georges Bizet: Les Pêcheurs de Perles
Georges Bizet burst onto the colorful Parisian operatic scene with Les Pêcheurs de Perles in 1863, just a few months shy of his 25th birthday. It contains the most beautiful tenor and baritone duet in all the operatic repertoire. In the last act two lovers are scheduled to be executed. How do they escape their plight? (Archival broadcast by the late Al Ruocchio)

June 23
Viva Verdi!
Great moments, scenes, and acts from the 19th-century Italian operatic master, Giuseppe Verdi. Music from Rigoletto, La Traviata, Otello, Don Carlos and more.

June 30
Douglas Moore and John Latouche: The Ballad of Baby Doe
A truly American opera, based on a true story and set in Leadville, Colorado. The young Elizabeth (Baby) Doe has left her husband and moves to Leadville. She meets and falls in love with Horace Tabor, a politician and investor in silver. However, HoracTabor is married to Augusta Tabor. It is quite the scandal for the day.

July 7
Giacomo Puccini: Il Trittico
Suor Angelica
Angelica belongs to an aristocratic Florentine family and is forced to don a nun’s habit after she gave birth to an illegitimate child. There is no respite for Angelica at the convent, only tragedy.
Il Tabarro
At sunset on the Seine sits an old cargo barge owned by an equally old Michele. Michele has married the much younger Giorgetta. However, Giorgetta is passionate for another.
Gianni Schicchi
In this comic opera, wealthy Buosu Donati has died leaving his assets to the monks, not his family. Outraged, greedy and wanting to be rich, his heirs engage in a ruse with the wily Gianni Schicchi. Amid the mayhem, Lauretta sings the beloved aria, “O mio babbino caro”, pleading with her father to marry her true love, Rinuccio.

July 14
Charles Gounod: Romeo and Juliet
Juliet wants to enjoy her life to the fullest before she gets married, however, her father has other ideas and has promised her to Count Paris. When Romeo enters the scene, all bets are off. It is love at first sight, even though they are from two different feuding families.

July 21
Almicare Ponchielli: La Gioconda
When La Gioconda, a street singer, crosses paths with Barnaba, an evil-hearted spy, a tangled web ensues. This opera has everything: deception, deceit, intrigue, suicide, murder, disguises, trickery, evil characters and more than a few poison elixirs.(An archival broadcast hosted by the late Al Ruocchio)

July 28
Giuseppe Verdi: Falstaff
Falstaff was Verdi’s second comic opera and his third work based on a Shakespeare play, following Macbeth and Otello. The plot revolves around the thwarted, sometimes farcical, efforts of the obese knight Sir John Falstaff while he tries to seduce two married women. Why? So that he may gain access to their family’s wealth!

August 4
Henry Purcell: Dido and Aeneas; The Fairy Queen
Dido, the queen of Carthage is in love with Aeneas, but a sorceress and her witches plan her downfall. They conjure up a storm and Aeneas believes that the gods are telling him to set sail and leave Dido forever.
By law, Demetrius must marry Hermia, but Hermia is in love with another. Meanwhile, Titiana, the fairy queen, is trying to hide a changeling boy from her husband, Oberon.

August 11
Francesco Cilea: Adriana Lecouvreur
The actress Adriana has been waiting for many years for her lover, Maurizio, and tonight he is at the theatre to see her perform. Maurizio claims to have been called away on business. At a party she learns that Maurizio
is not who he claims to be. (An archival broadcast hosted by the late Al Ruocchio)

August 18
Franz Lehar: Die Luftige Witwe
The Merry Widow is Franz Lehar’s most celebrated and successful operetta. It is filled with uplifting waltzes, comical and tender moments and the eloquent aria, “Villia, O Villia”.

August 25
Richard Wagner: Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg
Walther and Hans Sachs battle it out, each of them wanting to win the heart of Eva. Wagner’s only comic opera and his only opera that is based on an original story.

Spring 2022

Click on the link for a synopsis of the opera. Comments? Suggestions? Email Jay Pierson at opera@theclassicalstation.org

March 3
Antonio Vivaldi: Catone in Utica

March 10
Gustave Charpentier: Louise

March 17
Josef Hadyn: Il Mondo Della Luna

March 24
Spring Membership Drive

March 31
Giacomo Puccini: Madama Butterfly

April 7
Jerome Kern: Show Boat

April 14
Richard Wagner: Parsifal

April 21
Vincenzo Bellini: Beatrice di tenda

April 28
Léo Delibes: Lakmé

May 5
Stanisław Moniuszko: Halka

May 12
Jules Massenet: Manon

May 19
Gaetano Donizetti: Lucrezia Borgia

May 26
Peter Tchaikovsky: Iolanthe
Sergei Rachmaninoff: Aleko

Winter 2021-2022

December 2
Giachino Rossini: Il Turco in Italia
The poet Prosdocimo (Stabile) creates a story of intrigue, disguises, and misunderstandings involving Fiorilla (Callas), her admirer Don Narciso (Gedda), and her boring husband Selim (Rossi-Lemini).

December 9
Jacques Offenbach: Orphée aux Enfers
Eurydice (Dessay) is fatally bitten by a snake and relocates to the Underworld to be with Pluto (Fouchécourt), her lover. Husband Orpheus (Beuron) reluctantly tries to retrieve Eurydice; both are pleased when his attempt fails.

December 16
Ludwig van Beethoven: Fidelio
Disguised as a man, Leonore (Janowitz) rescues husband Florestan (Kollo) from prison, where he’s being held by Don Pizarro (Sotin). (From the Ruocchio Archives.)

December 23
Giacomo Puccini: La Bohème
Poet Rodolfo (Alagna) falls in love with sickly seamstress Mimi (Vaduva), while Marcello (Hampson) argues with his flirtatious girlfriend Musetta (Swenson).

December 30
Franz Lehár: Die Lustige Witwe
Hanna (Studer) will lose her late husband’s fortune unless she marries a fellow Pontevedrian, but Count Danilo (Skovhus) is still angry over her earlier rebuff.

January 6
Reinhard Keiser: Croesus
King Croesus of Lydia (Trekel) is insulted when the philosopher Solon (Youn) says that riches don’t necessarily bring happiness. Persian King Cyrus (Mannov) threatens to execute Croesus but eventually relents.

January 13
Giachino Rossini: L’Assedio di Corinto
Pamira (Sills) falls in love with “Almanzor,” who turns out to be the Muslim conqueror Maometto (Díaz) during the 1826 Turkish siege of Corinth.

January 20
Richard Wagner: Der Fliegende Holländer
Condemned to sail the seas forever, the Dutchman (Adam) comes ashore once every seven years to find a faithful woman (Silja). (From the Ruocchio Archives.)

January 27
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:Don Giovanni
Libertine Don Giovanni (Ramey), aided by servant Leporello (Furlanetto), tries to seduce Donna Anna (Tomowa-Sintow) but kills her father the Commendatore (Burchuladze), who ultimately takes the Don to Hell.

February 3
Samuel Barber: Antony and Cleopatra
Antony (Wells) leaves his mistress Cleopatra (Hinds) in Egypt and returns to Rome, where he’s forced to marry Octavia, sister of Caesar (Grayson), leading to Antony’s return to Cleopatra and their suicides.

February 10
Jacques Offenbach: Les Contes d’Hoffmann
Poet Hoffmann (Gedda) is inspired by three muses (d’Angelo, Schwarzkopf, de los Ángeles), but several villains (Ghiuselev, London, Blanc) conspire against him.

February 17
Giacomo Puccini: La Fanciulla del West
Saloonkeeper Minnie (Tebaldi) falls in love with a stranger, Dick Johnson (del Monaco), who’s actually the bandit Ramirez, wanted by sheriff Jack Rance. (From the Ruocchio Archives.)

February 24
Franz von Suppé: Boccaccio
Libertine Florentine poet Boccaccio (Prey) wins the hand of Fiametta (Rothenberger) after finding favor with her father, the duke (Böhme).

Fall 2021

September 2
Frank Loesser: The Most Happy Fella
Middle-aged Napa Valley vintner Tony (Weede) makes a mail-order marriage proposal to Rosabella (Sullivan), who mistakenly thinks she’s marrying Tony’s handsome young foreman, Joe (Lund).

September 9
Arrigo Boito: Mefistofele
Based on Goethe’s magnum opus, the Devil, Mefistofele (Ramey), bets God that he can successfully ensnare the elderly Faust (Domingo) by matching him with the young Margherita (Marton).

September 16
Camille Saint-Saëns: Samson et Dalila
Samson (Domingo) leads a successful Hebrew revolt against the Philistines. Prompted by the High Priest of Dagon (Fondary), Dalila (Meier) robs Samson of his power by cutting off his hair.

September 23
Georges Bizet: Carmen
Naïve soldier Don José (Domingo) falls for the free-spirited Carmen (Troyanos), helps her escape from jail, goes AWOL, and joins her in a smuggling gang, only to lose her to the bullfighter Escamillo (Van Dam). (From the Ruocchio Archives.)

September 30
Vincenzo Bellini: Il Pirata
Deprived of his estates, Gualtiero (Marti) turns to piracy. Learning that his beloved Imogene (Caballé) has married his enemy Ernesto (Cappuccilli), he kills the latter—and Imogene goes mad.

October 7
Karl Goldmark: Die Königin von Saba
Although engaged to Sulamith (Kinces), Assad (Jerusalem), the favorite of King Solomon (Sólyom-Nagy), has fallen in love with the Queen of Sheba.

October 14
Benjamin Britten: Albert Herring
Unable to find a suitable May Queen, Lady Billows (Barstow) and her committee select Albert (Gillett) as May King. At his coronation, Sid (Finley) and Nancy (Taylor) spike Albert’s lemonade.

October 21
Giuseppe Verdi: Rigoletto
After Gilda (Sutherland), daughter of court jester Rigoletto (Milnes), is seduced by the Duke of Mantua (Pavarotti), the aggrieved father puts out a contract on the duke’s life. (From the Ruocchio Archives.)

October 28
Fall Membership Drive
Bob Chapman and Elizabeth Elliott play arias, ensembles, and choruses as you pledge your
support for the Thursday Night Opera House.

November 4
George Frederic Handel: Faramondo
King Faramondo of the Franks (Fortunato) is a lifelong rival of Gustavo (Castaldi), leader of a tribe called the Cimbrians. Pawns in their personal enmity are the king’s sister Clotilde (Baird) and Gustavo’s daughter Rosimonda (Lane).

November 11
Nancy Van de Vate: All Quiet on the Western Front
Benjamin Britten: War Requiem
American-born Austrian composer pays tribute to the sufferings in war of ordinary soldiers. British composer juxtaposes war poems with the Mass for the Dead.

November 18
Giacomo Puccini: Manon Lescaut
On her way to a convent, Manon Lescaut (Freni) falls in love with Des Grieux (Domingo). Seduced by the wealth of Geronte (Rydl), she leaves Des Grieux, but they are eventually reunited and deported. (From the Ruocchio Archives.)

November 25
Mark Adamo: Little Women
Louisa May Alcott’s tale of growing up in New England after the Civil War features Joyce DiDonato as Meg.

Summer 2021

June 3
Giuseppe Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera
Riccardo (Peerce) is in love with Amelia (Milanov), wife of his best friend Renato (Merrill). Fortune teller Ulrica (M. Anderson) tells Riccardo he’ll be killed by the next man to shake his hand.

June 10
Johann Strauss: Der Zigeunerbaron
Pig farmer Zsupán (Berry) wants Barinkay (Protschka) to marry daughter Arsena (Lindner), who prefers Ottokár (Finke), while Barinkay falls in love with Saffi (Várady).

June 17
Charles Gounod: Mireille
Mireille (Freni) loves Vincent (Vanzo), but her father, Ramon (Bacquier), wants her to marry Ourrias (Van Dam). (From the Ruocchio Archives.)

June 24
Giachino Rossini: Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Jack-of-all-trades Figaro (Gobbi) skillfully helps Count Almaviva (Alva) win the hand of Rosina (Callas), the ward of old Bartolo (Ollendorff).

July 1
Carlisle Floyd: Susannah
Mark Scearce: Kitty Hawk
Daniel Thomas Davis: Family Secrets
In Susannah, an innocent woman (Studer) is victimized by a small-minded rural community. In Kitty Hawk, Wilbur (D. Schmidt) and Orville (M. Morgan) Wright attempt to become the first to fly an aircraft. In Family Secrets, a singer (A.E. Moore) describes how secrets define us and our sense of place.

July 8
Charles Gounod: Roméo et Juliette
Frère Laurent (Van Dam) secretly marries Roméo (Alagna) and Juliette (Gheorghiu), despite their families’ opposition—with deadly results

July 15
Gaetano Donizetti: L’Elisir d’Amore
Nemorino (Alagna) loves Adina (Devia), who falls instead for the soldier Belcore (Spagnoli); Nemorino tries a fake love potion sold by the charlatan Dr. Dulcamara (Praticò). (From the Ruocchio Archives.)

July 22
Giuseppe Verdi: Nabucco
Fenena (Obraztsova), daughter of King Nabucco of Babylon (Manuguerra), is in love with Ismaele (Luchetti), the nephew of the king of Jerusalem, while Fenena’s half-sister Abigaille (Scotto) is also in love with him.

July 29
Richard Wagner: Tannhäuser
Seduced by Venus (Baltsa), the knight Tannhäuser (Domingo) takes part in a minstrel contest for the hand of Elisabeth (Studer), the daughter of the landgrave Hermann (Salminen).

August 5
Ambroise Thomas: Hamlet
The Danish prince Hamlet (Hampson) reacts badly to the marriage of his mother Gertrude (Graves) to his uncle Claudius (Ramey), who murdered Hamlet’s father to gain the throne. The prince’s girlfriend Ophélie (J. Anderson) goes mad and drowns herself.

August 12
Pyotr Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin
Sophisticated Onegin (Kang) rebuffs country gal Tatyana (El-Khoury); jealous Lenski (Barry) is killed in a duel with Onegin, who has flirted with his fiancée Olga (Svede) in North Carolina Opera’s January 2016 performance.

August 19
Gaetano Donizetti: Don Pasquale
Pasquale (Bruscantini) wants to marry to prevent nephew Ernesto (Winbergh) from inheriting his estate. Malatesta (Nucci) suggests his sister Norina (Freni), who’s in love with Ernesto. (From the Ruocchio Archives.)

August 26
Jacques Offenbach: La Grande Duchesse de Gérolstein
A grand duchess (Valentini-Terrani) with an eye for attractive young men promotes Private Fritz (Allemano) to general, but he’s engaged to Wanda (Di Censo) and has ideas of his own, forcing her to settle for Prince Paul (Plaza).

Winter 2020–21 Listings

December 3
Puccini’s Tosca
Tosca (Freni), a singer, gives herself to the Roman police chief, Scarpia (Ramey), to save her painter boyfriend, Cavaradossi (Domingo).

December 10
Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust
An aged philosopher, Faust (Lewis), sells his soul to the devil, Méphistophélès (Terfel), in exchange for another shot at youth, then seduces the beautiful Marguerite (Von Otter).

December 17
Cimarosa’s Il Matrimonio Segreto
Paolino (Davies) is secretly married to Carolina (Auger), younger daughter of Geronimo (Fischer-Dieskau). (From the Ruocchio Archives.)

December 24
Christmas Eve at the Opera House
Sacred Christmas music performed by past- and present-day opera stars.

December 31
J. Strauss’s Die Fledermaus
Eisenstein (Kmentt) accepts Falke’s (Berry) invitation to a party; wife Rosalinde (Gueden) is visited by an old flame, Alfred (Zampieri); maid Adele (Köth) goes to the party of Prince Orlofsky (Resnik).

January 7
Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen
A clever, sharp-eared fox known as the Vixen (Watson) learns about life while on short adventures with other wildlife and a few humans.

January 14
Verdi’s Don Carlo
Don Carlo (Sylvester) is engaged to Elisabetta (Millo), but his father Filippo II (Furlanetto) marries her instead. Rodrigo (Chernov) tries to reconcile father and son but the Grand Inquisitor (Ramey) forces the king to assassinate him.

January 21
Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann
A poet, Hoffmann (Domingo), is inspired by three muses (Gruberová) but several villains (Bacquier, Morris, Diaz) conspire against him. (From the Ruocchio Archives.)

January 28
Mozart’s, et al., Der Stein der Weisen & Der Wohltätige Derwisch
First performed in 1790 and 1791, The Philosopher’s Stone and The Beneficient Dervish are pastiches—with music by Mozart, Henneberg, Schack, Gerl, and Schikaneder—that anticipate The Magic Flute.

February 4
Rossini’s Otello
Otello (Carreras) is in love with Desdemona (Von Stade), who’s been promised by her father, Elmiro (Ramey), to Rodrigo (Fisichella). Iago (Pastine) tells Otello that she’s been unfaithful.

February 11
Bernstein’s On the Town & West Side Story
On a 24-hour leave in New York City, three sailors (Garrison, Ollmann, Hampson) meet and connect with three women (Von Stade, Daly, McLaughlin). In a modern Romeo and Juliet story, a Puerto Rican woman, Maria (Te Kanawa), falls in love with a “real” American, Tony (Carreras).

February 18
Bellini’s Norma
A Druid priestess, Norma (Callas), is in a love triangle with her best friend, Adalgisa (Ludwig), and the father of her children, Pollione (Corelli). (From the Ruocchio Archives.)

February 25 Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande
After meeting Mélisande (Ewing) while hunting in the forest, Prince Golaud (Van Allen) marries her and then introduces his new wife to his half-brother, Pelléas (Le Roux)—and they promptly begin an adulterous relationship.

Opera House Newsletter

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See previous quarters’ programming for Thursday Night Opera House.

Masthead photo: Puccini’s La Bohème by Evan Zimmerman and the Metropolitan Opera