It is, I think, fitting that Saturday Afternoon at the Opera follow the weighty, doom-filled and relentlessly serious Tristan of Wagner with Rossini's tuneful bird, La Gazza Ladra.
From the opening notes of it's immensely popular overture and screaming snare drum, used in film, television, elevators and cartoons as well as the great concert halls and opera houses where we enter a wildly slapstick mixture of mock militarism, comic lightness and parody of dire fate - all wrapped in a gossamer elegance. While Tristan "appears" to be about eveything and is finally about music, La Gazza Ladra (The Thieving Magpie) pretends to be about nothing, but like the Wagner, it is finally a great feast of the voice and examination of human foibles from the comic as opposed to the tragic angle. For lovers of the voice, it is an Olympics of Vocalization requiring at least six outstanding singers and four "rock steady" principals. They never get a break. It is said that Rossini altered the work into later life, not changing the plot but endlessly elaborating ornament and vocal demands as he encountered great singers. It is almost as long as Tristan and packed into two unrelenting acts that must keep us laughing for almost three and a quarter hours!
This my dear is the language of true love.
For this true love she will risk prosecution by the spurned politician, Il Podesta (Sam Ramey) and the threat of the firing squad. As part of the narrative rushes toward what looks like a catastrophe for father, daughter and her lover a most mysterious and unlikely culprit is uncovered who might extricate them all ...
by Ron Moore