Second Thoughts

Second Thoughts
By Henry C. Mayer

A Season That Promises To Be Well Remembered !

The 2000-2001 season for the musical arts in Louisville promises to be attractive and memorable. In this issue, Kentucky Opera's schedule will be previewed; in the next two. first, the Ballet and then the Orchestra.

Kentucky Opera General Director Deborah Sandler has prepared a "tasty musical menu." This year, on Friday, October 13 and again for a Sunday matinee on October 15, the curtain will rise on the glittering court of the Duke of Mantua and the unforgettable music of Verdi's "Rigeletto." Based on a play by the great French writer Victor Hugo, Verdi shifted the action's locale as an act of political prudence.

Some of the greatest tenors have sung the role of the Duke: his aria about the alleged fickleness of women is a classic. Sensing he had a winner which should not be revealed prematurely, Verdi resolved not to present it to the tenor until shortly before the curtain. His caution was justified; the audience, hearing it, went wild.

However, that is not the only great piece in this colorful work. The female lead's "Cara Nome" is just about as memorable and a challenge almost as great. There is also a great aria for the baritone in the title role when he castigates the Duke's courtiers for abducting his daughter.

"Rigeletto" is a tragic piece, so Sandler decided her next presentation should be a comedy. She chose Gaetano Donizetti's "Daughter Of The Regiment"; it is not performed as often as some of his better known works, such as "Lucia D'lammermoor." The lighter opus should be a hit; it certainly was when Lily Pons, one of the great sopranos of the 20th century, not only starred in the Met's revival of it but made the cover of Time as well. Performances here are scheduled for Friday evening, January 26 and Sunday afternoon, January 28.

The season finale is Puccini's last opera, "Turandot." He died before completing it, so Franco Alfano completed it. It is a very colorful work whose action takes place in China's capitol. Turandot will only accept the marriage proposal from the man who solves her three riddles. It can be a gruesome encounter; suitors who fail forfeit their lives. Puccini seems to have considered it good theater besides being fascinated by the Orient. Performances are the evenings of March 24 and 30. There will be a Sunday matinee on April 1.

All this season's performances will take place at the Kentucky Center for the Arts.