I’m not, in the normal run of things, a huge fan of obscure bel canto operas. A very long list of them languish in obscurity for very good reasons. So, my hopes were not all that high when I stuck the 2015 Glyndebourne recording of Donizetti’s Poliuto in the player. I was wrong. This is probably the best martyrdom opera from Glyndebourne since Peter Sellars’ production of Theodora in 1998.
Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia is based on one short episode in the storied life of the famous female pharmacist. In it she twice poisons her son; once at the insistence of her husband, the second time by accident. The second time her son refuses the antidote preferring to die with his equally poisoned buddies but learns in his dying breath that Lucrezia is indeed his mother. It’s pretty unusual for a bel canto opera in that the leading female role (a) has agency, (b) doesn’t go mad and (c) doesn’t die.
La Bohème has been running at the COC for a couple of weeks now but last night was the first performance for the second cast. There are some new faces; Michael Fabiano comes in as Rodolfo with Simone Osborne as Musetta, Tom Corbeil as Colline and Cameron McPhail as Schaunard. There are also some change ups. Joyce El-Khoury swaps Musetta for Mimi and Phillip Addis swaps Schaunard for Marcello. I’ll be back Friday to see the opening night cast with the exception of Eric Margiore coming in as Rodolfo.