Thursday, August 16, 2012

Your gateway to Italian opera: Hickory

Hickory is handier for some of us than others, but it's definitely easier to reach than Italy. If you're a devoted enough opera buff, than may suffice to get you into the car. 

Hickory's Carmike 14 multiplex will show two European opera performances in the coming week. Sunday, Aug. 19, at 2 p.m.,  audiences will go to the La Scala theater in Milan for the tune-filled double bill of Mascagni's "Cavalleria Rusticana" and Leoncavallo's "Pagliacci." The best-known cast member is Argentine tenor Jose Cura, who plays the murderously jealous clown Canio. Here's Cura singing Canio's famous aria in a 2011 concert in Germany: 

Given the familiarity of Cav and Pag, some opera lovers might be more tempted Tuesday night, Aug. 21, when the Opera in Cinema series offers Bellini's "Norma" -- a bel canto classic that we're unlikely to see onstage around here anytime soon. For the saga of a Druid priestess gripped by illicit love for a Roman soldier, the performance's setting could hardly be more fitting: a Roman-era  amphitheater in Taormina, Sicily.

Chiara Taigi, a soprano whose name is new to me, will play the heroic title role, a onetime specialty of such larger-than-life performers as Maria Callas and Joan Sutherland. American tenor Gregory Kunde will play Norma's Roman paramour, Pollione. In a recording that I think comes from the same run of performances, you can sample Kunde -- in an audio recording with still photos -- in Pollione's aria. 

Opera in Cinema and its sibling, Ballet in Cinema, have a string of other performances in store this fall, including Rossini's "Italian Girl in Algiers" from Bologna, Italy, and "La Sylphide" and "Swan Lake" from the Bolshoi ballet. The schedule on the Carmike 14's website doesn't reach that far ahead at the moment, though. So check it periodically if you're interested.