When a classical music fan thinks of "Francesca da Rimini", one immediately thinks of Tchaikovsky's famous tone poem. In fact, this brief episodic story from Dante's Inferno, became the most famous opera of a relatively unknown Italian 20th Century composer, Riccardo Zandonai. Librettist Tito Ricordi, Jr. adapted a play drawn from this historical episode, and envisioned it as revival of the grand Italian operatic tradition, with the music of Italy's greatest operatic composer, Giacomo Puccini. Unfortunately for Ricordi, Puccini had no interest in reviving the grand operatic tradition. So, Ricordi turned to a young composer who had enjoyed modest success with Conchita, another libretto rejected by Puccini. The result is Francesca da Rimini, a grand historical epic and a passionate romantic tragedy.
The Metropolitan Opera presents this seldom produced opera, this Saturday at 11am on Classical 88.7. Eva-Maria Westbroek and Marcello Giordani star in the Zandonai opera, that also features former Tulsan Mark Delavan as Giancotto. Marco Armiliato conducts the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.