Metropolitan Opera 2017-18 Preview: Sonya Yoncheva & The Met’s 15 Other ‘Luisa Miller’ Interpreters

By David Salazar

When Verdi’s “Luisa Miller” hits the stage on Thursday, March 29, it will be the first time the opera is staged with the company in exactly 12 years.

The cast will include Plácido Domingo and Piotr Beczala among the male leads, but will also showcase the third major work headlined by Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva at the Met in 2017-18.

The role of Luisa is highly demanding, asking the lead soprano to traverse a wide range of vocal challenges throughout the opera. It is for this reason that it isn’t commonly performed all that often. In fact at the Met, there haven’t been all that many artists to take on the role and only one of them has managed more than 10 total performances overall at the met. Moreover, of the 15 singers listed, five have sung four or less performances at the Met of the role.

Here is a look at the singers who have performed the lead role of “Luisa Miller.”

The First

Rosa Ponselle was the first soprano to take on the lead role at the Met. The first performance was on Dec. 21, 1929; she sang a total of six showcases, the last one coming exactly one year later on Dec. 22, 1930.

The Greats After The Hiatus 

“Luisa Miller” would go into performance hibernation for the next 38 years until Montserrat Caballé revived it on Feb. 8, 1968. She would champion the work 15 times with the company that season, including six performances on tour.

During that same season, Lucine Amara would get two performances.

Two years later the task would fall to Adriana Maliponte, who would sing the role eight times between 1971 and 1982. In between her performances, Met audiences would get to see Gabriela Tucci for three shows, Katia Ricciarelli’s famed interpretation 10 times, and Renata Scotto’s performances five times.

Silvia Mosca would take on the role four times in the late 80s, as would Aprille Millo on seven occasions. The 90s would see Kallen Esperian showcasing the opera four times, and the opera would disappear for the better part of the decade.

The New Century

Marina Mescheriakova would be the first Luisa to make an appearance in the 2000s, singing the role six times in 2001; Sondra Radvanovsky would also sing two performances that year.

Barbara Frittoli would get three performances in 2002, and Veronica Villaroel and Karen Slack would get another three apiece in 2006; Slack is the last singer to take on the role at the Met.

When she takes the stage, Sonya Yoncheva will be the first singer in 12 years to take on the opera, and the 16th interpreter of the lead role at the Met overall.