Riccardo Zandonai’s masterpiece Francesca da Rimini, staged by the Met for the first time in more than a quarter of a century, airs on Great Performances at the Met Sunday, August 18 at 12 noon on PBS (check local listings). (In New York, THIRTEEN will air the opera at 12:30 p.m.)
Piero Faggioni‘s production, which sets the action in Renaissance Italy, stars Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek and Italian tenor Marcello Giordani as Francesca and Paolo, the star-crossed lovers whose doomed romance was immortalized in an episode in Dante’s Inferno.
Marco Armiliato conducts a cast that also includes the American baritone Mark Delavan as Gianciotto, Francesca’s brutal husband, and American tenor Robert Brubaker as the wicked Malatestino.
Francesca da Rimini had its Met premiere in 1916 with Frances Alda in the title role, Giovanni Martinelli as Paolo, and Pasquale Amato as Gianciotto. The opera quickly gained a reputation among connoisseurs for its unusual blend of musical styles, joining the melodies of Italian verismo with the colorful harmonic influences of Debussy and the orchestral effects of Richard Strauss. The opera returned to the Met’s repertory in 1984, when Faggioni’s production premiered with Renata Scotto, Plácido Domingo, and Cornell MacNeil in the central roles. The production was revived once, in 1986, and has not been seen at the Met until this past season.
American soprano Sondra Radvanovsky hosts the broadcast and conducts backstage interviews with the stars.
Francesca da Rimini was originally seen live in movie theaters on March 16 as part of the groundbreaking The Met: Live in HD series, which transmits live performances to more than 1900 movie theaters and performing arts centers in 64 countries around the world.
Great Performances at the Metis a presentation of THIRTEEN for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers. Throughout its 40 year history on public television,Great Performances has provided viewers across the country with an unparalleled showcase of the best in all genres of the performing arts, serving as America’s most prestigious and enduring broadcaster of cultural programming. Now in its fifth decade, the series has been the home to the greatest artists in the areas of drama, dance, musical theater, classical and popular music, providing many with their very first television exposure.
Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®. Additional funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. ThisGreat Performances presentation is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, The Agnes Varis Trust, and public television viewers.
For the Met, Gary Halvorson directs the telecast. Jay David Saks is Music Producer, Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are Supervising Producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are Producers. Peter Gelb is Executive Producer. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer; David Horn is Executive Producer.