CSO: Italian Opera Favorites

Chicago Symphony Orchestra
James Conlon, conductor
Nadine Sierra, soprano
Michael Fabiano, tenor

Saturday, August 11, 2018
4:30 PM
Donor Gates Open
5:00 PM
Public Gates Open
7:30 PM
Concert Starts

Tickets: $75 / $25
Lawn: $10

NOTE: Bryan Hymel is experiencing some temporary vocal discomfort and rather than make his Ravinia debut with anything less than his best performance, has withdrawn from tonight’s performance with James Conlon, Nadine Sierra and the Chicago Symphony. Ravinia is grateful to Michael Fabiano for joining Maestro Conlon, Ms. Sierra and the CSO this evening.

Dining Availablity For Tonight: Ravinia Market, Lawn BarTree Top and Park View are all open tonight.


Rossini:   Overture to The Barber of Seville
Donizetti:   “Lucia, perdona” from Lucia di Lammermoor
Rossini:   Overture to Semiramide
Rossini:   Passo a sei (Act I ballet) from William Tell
Donizetti:   “Il dolce suono” (Mad Scene) from Lucia di Lammermoor
Donizetti:   “Tombe degli avi miei” (Final Scene) from Lucia di Lammermoor
Rossini:   Overture to William Tell

Program Notes

  • Gioachino Rossini, easily the most popular opera composer of his time, retired from composing for the genre at only age 37 with the premiere of William Tell, his 39th opera.
  • The Overture to William Tell is one of the most popular and frequently recorded pieces in all of classical music, well known today for the radio and film drama The Lone Ranger’s use of music from the final section as its theme. That same section has been used in numerous other race or chase scenes (especially with horses), even though there is no such scene in the opera, because it’s written in the style of a galop, a dance named for the fastest pace of a running horse.


  • Gioachino Rossini is best remembered for his opera The Barber of Seville (which the composer and even Beethoven correctly predicted would remain popular over time) and many of the overtures to his operas. The Overture to The Barber of Seville was used almost in its entirety for the classic Looney Tunes cartoon “The Rabbit of Seville” in which Bugs Bunny uses several barbershop antics to disarm Elmer Fudd and eventually drop him into a cake labeled “The Marriage of Figaro,” the “sequel” opera written earlier by Mozart.
  • Since retiring from Ravinia in 2015, James Conlon has continued as music director of the Los Angeles Opera and become the principal conductor of Italy’s RAI National Orchestra. Those two current career passions come together in this program of favorites from Italian opera.
  • “Mad scenes” in opera were a sort of fad among early-19th-century French and Italian composers. They typically featured one of the star singers (usually a soprano) acting out their character’s mental breakdown through a solo that allowed them to show off their vocal skills with immensely difficult passages. Gaetano Donizetti was particularly well known for writing mad scenes, and his most famous is from Lucia di Lammermoor, in which the title character kills her new husband after being tricked into the marriage by a fake letter from her true love claiming he loves another.
  • Like in the most famous love tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, the main characters of Lucia di Lammermoor (Lucia and Edgardo) fall in love despite their families’ long-standing feud. However, in this story, they do not marry, and Lucia dies of insanity after being tricked into marrying a family-approved suitor. Edgardo kills himself with the hope of being reunited with his love in the afterlife, again mirroring Romeo and Juliet.


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