Pittsburgh Opera Presents Handel's RICHARD THE LIONHEART, 1/21

By: Dec. 01, 2016
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Pittsburgh Opera continues its 78th season with the Pennsylvania premiere of Handel's Richard the Lionheart, at Pittsburgh CAPA Theater January 21st-29th.

Before he wrote his famous Messiah, George Frideric Handel composed a number of beautiful operas. He wrote Richard the Lionheart (Riccardo Primo) for the Royal Academy's 1726-27 opera season in London. It was neglected for a considerable amount of time before being resurrected in Europe in the mid 1960's. This will only be the second time Richard the Lionheart has been performed in the United States (the first was by Opera Theatre of St. Louis in 2015).

The story takes place in Cyprus in the late 1100's, and is about King Richard the First of England's pending marriage to the Spanish princess Costanza.

This is a traditional, Baroque opera, so in order to make the live accompaniment sound authentic, Pittsburgh Opera is partnering with Chatham Baroque to add three classical Baroque performers to its orchestra. Founded in 1990, Chatham Baroque continues to excite local, national and international audiences with dazzling technique and lively interpretations of 17th- and 18th- century music played on authentic instruments of the period.

Pittsburgh Opera is also proud to partner with Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama to create custom sets for these performances.

Our CAPA Theater Productions are dedicated to showcasing Pittsburgh Opera's talented Resident Artists, and provide audiences the opportunity to see tomorrow's big league opera stars today.

On stage January 21, 24, 27 & 29, 2017, Richard the Lionheart offers the rare opportunity to see a 'new' 300-year old opera by one of the most celebrated composers in history. Most tickets are $50.75 and are available online.

Fun facts about Richard the Lionheart:

  1. The role of King Richard will be sung by a woman - mezzo-soprano Leah de Gruyl. In opera, when a woman plays the role of a man, it is called a "pants role." Handel wrote the role of King Richard for a castrato - a man who was castrated before puberty. Given that pre-pubescent castration no longer takes place, roles written for castrati are usually performed by mezzo-sopranos, whose voices most closely resemble them. (The only surviving recording of a castrato singing can be heard on Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castrato.)
  2. George Frideric Handel was a German living in England, who composed Richard the Lionheart for the Royal Academy in London. Nevertheless, the libretto was written by an Italian (Paolo Antonio Rolli) in Italian, which was considered the operatic gold-standard at the time. (Pittsburgh Opera will be projecting English supertitles in translation above the stage.)
  3. In years past, Baroque operas were performed frequently enough that some opera singers solely sang Baroque. Nowadays, modern opera singers receive specific training in Baroque techniques so that it can be part of their repertoire while not severely limiting their careers.

About Pittsburgh Opera: Pittsburgh Opera celebrates its 78th season in 2016-'17. Established by five intrepid women in 1939, Pittsburgh Opera is viewed as one of the most vibrant opera organizations in the U.S., with a rich artistic tradition, outstanding educational programs, an acclaimed artist training program, and a progressive outlook toward the future. Its green initiative culminated in LEED® Silver certification for its Strip District headquarters, and its capacity as a true community partner has increased significantly under General Director Christopher Hahn's leadership.

(Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Opera Facebook)


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