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Thursday, June 9, 2011

New York Metropolitan Opera's tales of lost love and madness arrive in Tokyo


Staff writer

Singers from the New York-based Metropolitan Opera greeted the press in Tokyo on Monday and showed that the setback of two singers pulling out after the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake has not dampened the spirits of their current tour. Four replacement singers — Marina Poplavskaya, Marcelo Alvarez, Rolando Villazon and Alexey Dolgov — have taken time out of their schedules in a shuffling of the casts of the operas "La Boheme," "Don Carlo" and "Lucia di Lammermoor." The tour, now in Tokyo, runs until June 19.

The soprano Poplavskaya said that she looked forward to playing Elisabeth in "Don Carlo," describing the French princess as one of her "favorite roles."

Set in 16th-century France and Spain, Giuseppe Verdi's "Don Carlo" follows the story of Prince Carlo, who loses his betrothed love, Elisabeth, when she is forced to marry his father, the King of Spain, as a condition of a peace treaty.

South Korean tenor Yonghoon Lee takes the role of Carlo, which was his debut role with the Metropolitan Opera. "This is also my debut in Japan. It's a special role for me," he said.

Originally, Lee's leading lady was to be Italian soprano Barbara Frittoli, who now takes the role of Mimi in "La Boheme" instead. Frittoli agreed to the switch to help keep casts intact after the cancellations. "This tour is so important for everybody in Japan, and for us," she explained.

Her new role is that of a seamstress in the 1830s, whose romance with a poet, Rodolfo, ends in tragedy. Set in Paris, "La Boheme" is known as one of Giacomo Puccini's three greatest operas along with "Madame Butterfly" and "Tosca."

The third of the touring operas is "Lucia di Lammermoor," composed by Gaetano Donizetti and set in 19th-century Scotland. The opera is famous for its dramatic climactic scene in which the heroine, Lucia, here sung by soprano Diana Damrau, becomes insane after killing the husband she had been forced to marry.

"Don Carlo" and "La Boheme" will be performed at NHK Hall in Shibuya, and "Lucia di Lammermoor" at Tokyo Bunka Kaikan in Ueno. Tickets range from ¥16,000-¥64,000 per opera, or from ¥144,000-¥186,000 for all three; Ticket pia (03) 5774- 3040. For more information, visit www.japanarts.co.jp.

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