Broadcast

Metropolitan Opera Broadcast: Le Comte Ory 

Radio Broadcast of Saturday, February 2, 1:00 P.M.

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As the page Isolier, Ragonde and the ladies of Adèle's household watch, Ory teases Adèle (Joyce DiDonato as Isolier, Damrau, Susanne Resmark as Ragonde, Flórez)
© Beth Bergman 2013
The 2012–13 Metropolitan Opera broadcast season is sponsored by 
Toll Brothers, America's luxury home builder®, with generous long-term support from 
The Annenberg Foundation, The Neubauer Family Foundation,
the Vincent A. Stabile Endowment for Broadcast Media,
and through contributions from listeners worldwide.
 
Le Comte Ory

Music by Gioachino Rossini
Libretto by Eugène Scribe and Charles-Gaspard Delestre-Poirson
THE CAST     (in order of vocal appearance)
Raimbaud     baritone, NATHAN GUNN
Alice     soprano, ASHLEY EMERSON
Ragonde     mezzo, SUSANNE RESMARK
Count Ory     tenor, JUAN DIEGO FLÓREZ 
Tutor     bass, NICOLA ULIVIERI
Isolier     mezzo, KARINE DESHAYES
Countess     Adèle sop., PRETTY YENDE
First Courtier     tenor, SCOTT SCULLY
Second Courtier     bass-bar., TYLER SIMPSON
Prompter     actor, ROB BESSERER

Conducted by MAURIZIO BENINI

The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
The Metropolitan Opera Chorus

Production: Bartlett Sher
Set designer: Michael Yeargan
Costume designer: Catherine Zuber
Lighting designer: Brian MacDevitt
Chorus master: Donald Palumbo
Musical preparation: Donna Racik,
Gregory Buchalter, Denise Massé,
     Thomas Bagwell, Lydia Brown
Assistant stage directors: Jonathon Loy,
     Sarah Ina Meyers
Prompter: Donna Racik

Production a gift of
     The Sybil B. Harrington Endowment Fund 
THE SCENES   Timings (ET)
  (France, a beautiful castle
in the countryside, long,
long ago)
 
ACT I Outside Formoutiers Castle 1:00–2:17
ACT II The castle 2:50–4:03

Host: Margaret Juntwait
Commentator: Ira Siff
Music producer: Jay David Saks
Producers: Mary Jo Heath, Ellen Keel, 
     William Berger
Executive producers: Mia Bongiovanni,
     Elena Park
 
For more information on the broadcasts,
     please visit www.operainfo.org
 
Send quiz questions to:
     Metropolitan Opera Quiz
     Metropolitan Opera
     30 Lincoln Center
     New York, NY 10023
     or e-mail metquiz@metopera.org.
 
This performance is also being
     broadcast live on Metropolitan
     Opera Radio on SiriusXM
     channel 74.

THE STORY 

ACT I. At the castle of the Count of Formoutiers, the women have vowed to shun male companionship while their men are away on a Crusade. Outside the castle gates, Count Ory and his friend Raimbaud scheme to gain access to Countess Adèle (sister of the Count of Formoutiers), with whom Ory is infatuated. Raimbaud announces to the ladies of the castle that a wise hermit (the disguised Ory) is available for consultation. The ladies, in jovial spirits, bring out food and wine. Dame Ragonde, the castle stewardess, says Adèle is anxious about the safety of her menfolk and would like to consult the hermit. Ory appears, in hermit garb, urging the ladies to talk with him freely. A couple of villagers tell him their wishes — for a gentle wife, for marriage to a sweetheart — and Ragonde expresses her desire for her husband's safe return from the Crusade. She also asks if Adèle can speak with the friar; he says he will gladly await her.

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Juan Diego Flórez in Comte Ory's disguise as
“Soeur Colette”

© Beth Bergman 2013

Ory's Tutor arrives with Isolier, page boy to Ory's father, the Duke. Isolier, a cousin of Adèle's, has a crush on her and hopes for a chance to see her. The Tutor, for his part, hopes to find Ory, for whose welfare he is responsible, and who is rumored to be in the vicinity. When attractive women appear, the Tutor surmises that Ory cannot be far away; he learns that the hermit has been there for about a week — the same amount of time Ory has been missing. The Tutor withdraws to get help in bringing Ory home if he should find him. Isolier stays to confer with the "hermit," whom he fails to recognize as Ory. The youth confides his love for Adèle and his plan for gaining entry to the castle by dressing as a female pilgrim. Ory, though angry that the page is his rival, thinks the plan might work for himself. 

A march heralds the arrival of Adèle, who tells the hermit of her lingering melancholy. He advises her to fall in love, saying heaven releases her from her vows of celibacy. His plan backfires when she begins to show affection for Isolier, so he warns her to beware of "the page of that dreadful Count Ory." Meanwhile, the Tutor reenters with his entourage from Ory's court, hoping to find their master and take him home. The Tutor, seeing Raimbaud, has little difficulty recognizing Ory, who is forced to admit his identity. Ragonde shows Adèle a letter indicating that the castle's menfolk are on their way home — more bad news for Ory. He decides to act quickly, calling on his companions to retreat with him and plan a new strategy.

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Disguised as nuns, Ory, Raimbaud and their friends make merry with the contents of the castle's wine cellar (Flórez, Stéphane Degout as Raimbaud)
© Beatriz Schiller 2013

ACT II. Inside the castle, Adèle and Ragonde remark that they feel safe there from the profligate Ory. As a storm breaks, voices are heard outside — fourteen female pilgrims asking for shelter. To protect them from Ory, they are admitted. One of them (Ory in woman's dress) begs to speak with Adèle and tells her how much he admires her. At mention of Ory's name, however, she makes plain her aversion to his advances. When she leaves to arrange refreshments, Ory explains to his Tutor, who is among his companions, that the idea for their escapade was Isolier's; the Tutor is uneasy, fearing he will lose his job if Ory's father finds out. When fruit and milk are brought, the men are distressed with such austere fare; but Raimbaud, who has discovered the wine cellar, comes to their rescue. Gradually, a raucous party develops, but the visitors quiet down when Adèle returns to say it is bedtime. Ory and his confederates withdraw.

Adèle is disconcerted by the arrival of Isolier, since no man is allowed inside the castle during the Crusaders' absence. He announces their surprise return that very night. When the page learns that there are female pilgrims in the castle, he realizes his own idea for infiltrating the palace has been plagiarized by Ory. Adèle hears Ory approaching. Isolier dons a female disguise and has Adèle stand concealed behind him. Ory, believing in the darkness that he is addressing Adèle directly, tells her he is "Sister Colette" and cannot sleep; he makes advances to Isolier, who keeps Adèle posted on what is happening. At length, Ory rashly reveals his identity and declares his love — still holding Isolier's hand, unaware of the trick. At that moment, the Crusaders are heard returning. Isolier removes his disguise; Ory confesses that his companions are all men in disguise. Adèle tells them to leave at once: Isolier will lead them out via a secret passage. On his way out, Ory gallantly concedes victory to the powers of wedlock.

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A bedtime romp for Adèle, Ory and Isolier (Damrau, Flórez, DiDonato)
© Beth Bergman 2013

THE BACKGROUND 

Gioachino Rossini (1792–1868) was born in Pesaro, the son of two working musicians; his mother, Anna, was a singer, his father, Antonio, a horn player. Rossini was a prodigy, to whom success came early: he entered Bologna's Accademia Filarmonica in 1806, at the age of fourteen, and his first produced opera, the farce La Cambiale di Matrimonio (The Marriage Contract), was given its premiere at the Teatro S. Moisè in Venice in November 1810, when Rossini was eighteen. The runaway success of the heroic tragedyTancredi — first heard at La Fenice in Venice in early February 1813, when its composer was still only twenty — made Rossini the most talked-about composer in Europe.

After a decade of success in Italy, including a highly productive period (1816–22) under contract to the Teatro San Carlo, in Naples, Rossini chose to settle in Paris in 1824. There, he was responsible for overseeing work at the Théâtre Italien, as well as devising new works for the Opéra. The first work of Rossini's French period was Il Viaggio a Reims, a pièce d'occasion given at the Théâtre Italien in June 1825 to celebrate the coronation of Charles X as king of France the previous month. Rossini withdrew Viaggio after just four performances, intending to use its music for future projects.

After offering Paris audiences two works that were revisions of pieces from his Naples years — La Siège de Corinthe (1826), which reworked Maometto II (1820), and Moïse et Pharaon (1827), a new version of Mosè in Egitto (1818) — Rossini used several of the best numbers from Viaggio a Reims to create his witty, sophisticated score for Le Comte Ory; for example, "Ah! A tal colpo inaspettato,"Viaggio's dazzling concertato for unaccompanied voices, was adapted for part of Ory's Act I finale. The libretto for the operais effectively an expansion of a one-act vaudeville suggested by the legend of a libidinous knight from Touraine, written by Eugène Scribe and Charles-Gaspard Delestre-Poirson in 1816. Le Comte Ory was given its premiere at the Paris Opera's Salle Le Peletier on August 20, 1828. The opera had its first performance at the Metropolitan Opera on March 24, 2011, in a staging by Bartlett Sher.

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Flórez and Diana Damrau as Ory and Comtesse Adèle in Bartlett Sher's Metropolitan Opera staging
© Beatriz Schiller 2013

WHAT TO READ AND HEAR 

Charles Osborne's Rossini (Northeastern) and Francis Toye's Rossini: The Man and His Music (Dover) are useful sources on the composer.

On CD, Juan Diego Flórez is the star of an excellent DG performance, conducted by Jesús Lopez-Cobos, recorded live at the 2003 Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro. The 1956 Glyndebourne recording of Le Comte Ory (EMI), deliciously paced by Vittorio Gui, retains its charm, thanks to a well-routined cast.

On video, the performance of choice is the Met's strongly cast 2011 performance of the Bartlett Sher staging that marked the comedy's company premiere. Maurizio Benini paces Flórez, Diana Damrau, Joyce DiDonato and Stéphane Degout, all in sovereign form. spacer 

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