After the heaviness of Utah Opera’s previous offerings, including the tragic Macbeth last October and the obsessive Carmen in January, audiences may appreciate the change of pace that accompanies a comic masterpiece in Rossini’s opera buffa The Italian Girl in Algiers, where lightness of heart is exulted over anguish of passion.
Composed when Rossini was only 21 years old, the opera demonstrates the youthful exuberance contributing to a joyful and unabashed work about lost lovers, jealous wives, meddling servants, pirates and shipwrecks. Originally produced during the Carnival of Venice in 1813 (the original Mardi Gras), The Italian Girl in Algiers inspired the French novelist Stendhal to say, “It is a masterpiece which never fails to give pleasure.”
Mustafa, the Bey of Algiers (Rod Nelman, pictured), is bored with his harem—not to mention his wife—and seeks out an Italian woman. Mezzosoprano Leah Wool plays Isabella, the opera’s Italian girl, who is shipwrecked nearby in search of her missing lover, Lindoro (Utah native tenor Brian Sutcki), who also happens to be Mustafa’s servant. Mix in a jealous wife, greedy pirates, a harem, slaves and even eunuchs; soon enough, everyone gets in on the laughs and action.
Director Patricia Weinmann, who directed the Rossini production Cinderella in 2008, along with conductor Christopher Larkin, will bring Utah operagoers a comic and amorous enchantment in Isabella and Lindoro’s adventures in Algiers, fulfilling Utah Opera’s motto: “Embrace Romance.”