With the Naperville Public Library’s summer reading program running through the end of this month, July is the perfect time to read a few good books. Meanwhile, opera devotees can also prepare for the 2012-2013 opera season by investigating the literary inspirations behind many upcoming performances.
The Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD movie broadcast season is filled with literary tributes. Shakespeare’s dramas are well represented through Verdi’s Otello and Thomas Ades’ The Tempest, written in 2004. The liberties that Verdi’s opera takes with Shakespeare’s Othello is particularly striking. Discarding Shakespeare’s entire first act, the opera transforms Desdemona strong-willed to mild-mannered. Of course, this alteration is less egregious than Rossini’s operatic adaptation of Othello which, according to the custom of his time, was presented with a happy ending.
The Met’s Live in HD lineup also honors Dante’s Inferno with a production of Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini. This opera was inspired by a mere eighteen lines of the epic poem. (Although, the plot to Puccini’s classic Gianni Schicchi was teased out of only three lines from Dante’s text.)
Not into the classics? The Lyric Opera of Chicago’s future lineup offers some good reasons to explore contemporary literature. The Lyric will perform Andre Previn’s operatic adaptation of Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Named Desire this spring. Based on an all-American play, the opera stars American diva Renee Fleming as Blanche DuBois, a role written especially for her. Looking forward, Ann Patchett’s novel Bel Canto is the inspiration behind the Lyric’s latest commission for their 2015-2016 season.
Enjoy these great summer reads while getting ready to enjoy the many operatic gems coming to stage and screen starting this fall!