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Odyssey Opera, the Boston-based company devoted to producing rare operas, launched last September. Opera fans are in for a treat this week, when the company opens its 2014 season with three fully staged, rarely performed masterpieces: Giuseppe Verdi’s 1840 comic opera Un giorno di regno and two one-act operas, Pietro Mascagni’s 1896 Zanetto, and Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s 1909 Il segreto di Susanna, which have been paired together. The four-day lineup is filled with wit, romance, and operatic talent, including a star performance by Eleni Calenos (CFA’08), a graduate of BU’s Opera Institute. All of the operas are sung in Italian, with English subtitles.
Directed by Joshua Major and starring Michael Chioldi, James Maddalena, Amy Shoremount-Obra, Jessica Medoff, Yeghishe Manucharyan, and David Kravitz
The second opera from one of the world’s preeminent opera composers, Un giorno di regno, or King for a Day, is one of only two comedies Verdi wrote. Set in France in 1733, Un giorno di regno was inspired by the actual story of a deposed and exiled 18th-century Polish king. Over two acts and five scenes, two tangled, mismatched romances, as well as several messy and unlikely romantic couplings, unfold and lighthearted hilarity ensues.
Directed by Daniel Gidron and starring Eleni Calenos (CFA’08) and Eve Gigliotti
Over the course of just one act lasting less than an hour, Mascagni’s opera Zanetto is chock-full of unfulfilled love, longing, and regret. Set in Italy during the Renaissance, the two-singer opera is the story of aging courtesan Silvia (played by Calenos), a woman whose passion is ignited after she meets wandering minstrel Zanetto. Calenos has appeared in more than 30 operas since 2006, most recently as Cio-Cio San in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Contessa di Almaviva in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, and Micaela in Bizet’s Carmen.
Directed by Daniel Gidron and starring Inna Dukach and Kristopher Irmiter
Wolf-Ferrari is best known for the humorous 45-minute, one-act intermezzo Il segreto di Susanna (The Secret of Susanna), the tale of a count who suspects his wife of infidelity when he begins smelling tobacco on her clothes. As Susanna tries to hide her deepest secret—a smoking habit—from her husband, he becomes ever more determined to uncover the truth. Wolf-Ferrari’s opera is being staged in Boston for the first time in more than 25 years.
The Odyssey Opera series will be held at the Boston University Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave., Boston, from Wednesday, June 11, to Saturday, June 14, at 7:30 p.m.; Un giorno di regno on June 11 and 13; Zanetto and Il segreto di Susanna on June 12 and 14. All three operas are sung in Italian with projected English supertitles. Tickets range from $25 to $100 and can be purchased online or by calling 617-933-8600. Students and seniors receive $5 off a ticket price, and $10 student rush tickets are available two hours prior to a performance.