A half-hour behind-the-scenes look at each Pittsburgh Opera production featuring musical excerpts, guest artist interviews, and insight from artistic director Christopher Hahn. Hosted by Stephen Baum.
THE STORY: The court jester Rigoletto loves his daughter Gilda nearly as much as he hates the Duke of Mantua. The Duke steals Gilda's honor, and the jester must continue to joke, even as he plans revenge. Like most comedians, Rigoletto sometimes takes a joke too far for the comfort of his audience. But, this being opera, Rigoletto is met not by boos, but by a curse, when one of his jokes gets a little too personal. And when he realizes that his daughter has captured the eye of the Duke, Rigoletto leads us on a whirlwind of rage, revenge, and ultimately a tragic death.
THE STORY: Don Giovanni's lady-killing ways finally catch up to him in the form of a statue that he invites to dinner, in this Mozart favorite. The Don takes us down a wild path of seduction (and attempted seduction). But life in the fast lane isn't easy, even for a man who claims over 2000 conquests. In the end, Don Giovanni is undone by his own web of deception, and he falls victim to one of the greatest truisms in party planning: if you're throwing a peasant wedding in your castle, do not invite a haunted, talking statue trying to avenge his death.
The Secret Marriage
THE STORY: Carolina and Paolino want to be openly married, so they plot to marry off Carolina's older sister Elisetta to appease a strict father. As it turns out, there's more than one woman in love with Paolino! It all starts innocently enough. Paolino works for Geronimo, and is in love with his daughter Carolina. So they do what seems sensible to them, and secretly marry. It probably would have worked out fine, except that Carolina's aunt Fidalma is in love with Paolino. And when the man betrothed to Elisetta arrives, he falls in love with Carolina. Much scheming, amorous intrigue, and silliness ensue.
THE STORY: Cio-Cio San's open heart and trusting nature are the reasons that Pinkerton should love her, and the reasons that we weep at the end of the opera. We're introduced to the lopsided love between a young Japanese woman and Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, a U.S. Naval officer. The young woman, nicknamed Butterfly, gives up her family and her religion to be with Pinkerton. Pinkerton gives up nothing, and promptly leaves for nearly three years. He eventually returns, with his American wife, and the young Butterfly is mortally devastated.
THE STORY: The fairy story with the glass slipper and golden carriage is transformed into an enchanting opera that replaces some of the special effects with the real magic of true love and goodness. You kind of know this story. Evil stepsisters dislike and abuse the beautiful Angelina. There's a ball, and Angelina manages to be the belle of it, thanks to the help of the wise Alidoro and a beautiful bracelet. After the ball, the prince finds his princess and is treated to her true beauty: the ability to forgive her father and stepsisters for their years of cruelty.