The New York City Opera will be showcasing Ottorino Respighi’s “La campana sommersa” on March 31. The company will have subsequent performances on April 1, 4 and 5.
As is the case with the composer’s operatic output, this opera is rarely performed these days, giving it great intrigue. Here are a few fun facts to fill you in before you check it out in New York this weekend.
The worked premiered Nov. 18, 1827, in Hamburg, Germany and is the sixth of Resphigi’s nine operas. The libretto by Claudio Guastalla is based on the play “Die versunkene Glocke” by Gerhart Hauptmann which tells the story of a bell marker whose bell is forced to the bottom of the ocean by a water spirit. Despondent, he leaves his wife and runs off with a water spirit that has taken on human form. Eventually, tragedy strikes and the bell maker’s life implodes.
Because the work is so rarely performed, there are but a few recordings available. A 1956 set conducted by Franco Capuana with the Orchestra e Coro della RAI di Milano stars Margherita Carosio, Rina Malatrasi, Umberto Borsò and Tommaso Frascati. Nearly 50 years later Friedemann Layer conducted a recording with Laura Aikin, Alessandra Rezza, John Daszak and Kevin Connors. That recording was released in 2003.
For this current production, the New York City Opera is showcasing Fabio Armiliato as Enrico the Bellmaker and Brandie Sutton as Rautendelein, the female water spirit that falls in love with him. Other cast members include Michael Chioldi, Glenn Seven Allen, Kristin Sampson, Philip Cokorinos and Renata Lamanda. Marc Heller will also rotate performances with Armiliato.
The opera will last two hours and 45 minutes with a 20-minute intermission.