What: On Saturday, April 14, the Metropolitan Opera live in HD in the Cinemas broadcast will feature Luisa Miller, a dramma tragico, by composer Giuseppe Verdi and librettist Salvatore Cammarano. The cast is led by probably the most famous opera singer in the world, Placido Domingo, who is amazing everybody that at age 77 he can still perform at the Met.
Cammarano’s libretto is based on Schiller’s play, “Kabale und Liebe” (Intrigue and Love). In the story, Miller, a retired soldier, dotes on his daughter, Luisa, all he has left in the world. She has fallen in love with Rudolfo and he with her. Miller is worried that he knows too little about his daughter’s chosen one, and in fact, he is to learn disturbing news about the young man. Rudolfo’s father, Count Walter, wants his son to marry the Duchess Fredericka. Courtier Wurm, who previously asked Miller for Luisa’s hand still wants Luisa for himself and plots to force Luisa to marry him instead, setting in motion the events that lead to the tragic conclusion.
Movie theaters representing several different chains carry the Live in HD performances. Use this link to find those nearest you; use city and state, not zip code in the search bar. After the Saturday performances, an Encore performance is typically shown on the following Wednesdays. Only the Saturday performance is broadcast live but the video shown on Wednesday is exactly what the audiences saw on Saturday, plus the best seats sell out quickly on Saturday and the remaining seat selection for Wednesday is usually better. Tickets are usually around $25 with small discounts for seniors and children.
Why You Should Go:
1. It’s a Verdi opera. In fact, Luisa Miller is actually quite good Verdi. For me, LM is a story where everyone wears their emotions on their sleeves and the final tragedy seems a little too familiar after having seen quite a few other tragic operas with similar and stronger plot lines and endings. I suspect this is why it is not performed more often, but it has enough plot twists to be engaging. Having said that, you do get the Verdi chorus in the beginning and each lead character gets their own beautiful Verdi arias, and there are also great duets and ensemble singing. Critics say that Luisa Miller is underrated and demonstrates Verdi’s growth in the sophistication of his compositions, beginning his middle period.
2. Placido Domingo sings the baritone role of Miller. In his later years, he switched from tenor to baritone roles. His voice draws gentle criticism from professional critics for its condition today, but at the same time, he is praised for adding excitement to the production.
3. The cast around Placido is outstanding, especially the currently very hot diva, soprano Sonya Yoncheva, playing Luisa; and the the excellent tenor Piotr Beczala as Rodolfo,
4. You can try a neat experiment: Do you like Placido better in the tenor role or the baritone role? Go see the current version where Placido plays Miller, then watch the Met video of the 1979 production of Luisa Miller, which starred Placido at age 38 in the tenor role of Rodolfo. In the video, you get to see a dashing, still young Placido with golden curls singing opposite the great Renata Scotto (my personal all-time favorite soprano) singing in the role of Luisa, a duo of historic opera dimensions. The 1979 Luisa Miller can be purchased on DVD or rented for streaming to your streaming devices such as Apple TV and Roku from Met Opera on Demand.
5. You can take your popcorn, candy, and soda into the movie theater, unlike opera houses.
6. You can wear what you usually wear to see a movie; nobody will care.
Reviews: The reviews are generally favorable with special praise for the aura provided by Placido and the performance of Ms. Yoncheva. Links to individual reviews are in the right side bar. For a summary of the reviews click on this link.