Monday Night at the Opera

Haydn: L’incontro improvviso

Depiction of the original setting for Haydn's opera "L'incontro improvviso" or "The Unexpected Encounter"

Depiction of the original setting for Haydn’s opera “L’incontro improvviso” or “The Unexpected Encounter”


Monday, March 17, 7 p.m.

The signed manuscript of Haydn’s “L’incontro improvviso” or “The Unexpected Encounter” was only discovered in 1954 in a library in St. Petersburg. Haydn had published one of the arias but the opera had been considered lost. This accounts for the general opera public’s unfamiliarity with this jewel of the classical repertoire.

Haydn created it in 1775 as entertainment for the Royal Austrian court’s visit to Esterhazy. The subject matter is quite entertaining as it is entirely set in a harem in Egypt and makes use of several Turkish effects which were popular at that time.

Rezia, a Persian princess promised to another, fall is in love with the Egyptian Ali. They elope but are captured by pirates and get separated. Rezia is sold to the Egyptian Sultan and becomes part of his harem. Ali discovers where she is and the plot of the opera plot follows their path to reuniting. Rezia and the Sultan are serious characters, held in great esteem. The Calendar and his servant Osmin are comic religious characters which fits the Archiduke’s disdain for the powerful religious orders that were in conflict with his political ambitions. Haydn was one smart cookie and new who signed his checks. But the result opera pleases all and is full of remarkable music which deserves to have a much wider audience. Joe Truskot hosts.

Violanta by Korngold: set in Venice at Carnival


Monday, March 10, 7 p.m.

Host Joe Truskot presents a rarely performed opera by Austrian composer Erich Korngold. Although best remembered for his work in the 30s and 40s in Hollywood, Korngold was one of the most prolific and talented musicians of the 20th century. Much of his music awaits discovery.

Here’s a production from the early 1980s with soprano Eva Marton, tenor Siegfried Jerusalem, bass Walter Berry conducted by Marek Janowski with the Bavarian Radio Choir and the Munich Radio Orchestra.

Violanta is short so the remainder of the program will feature several selections from German operas featuring the voices of Dietrich Fischer Diskau, Kiri Te Kanawa, Josef Greindl and others.

Sid Caesar Tribute

Sid Caesar (1922-2014)

Sid Caesar (1922-2014)

A round of applause please for a man who helped people enjoy opera and have fun doing it.

The skit was done live. Watch what happens when the eyebrow pencil tip breaks. All improvised.



Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra


Monday, Feb.10, 7 p.m.

Perhaps the least performed of Verdi’s masterpieces, “Simon Boccanegra” first appeared in 1857. It followed ” I Vespri Siciliani” and came prior to “Un balo en maschera.” The story revolves around unknown identities, love triangles, and contentious officials in 14th century Genoa.

One reason the work isn’t performed more frequently has to do with the five male voices it requires. There is only one female character of substance and she isn’t given an aria. Verdi worked with Boito years later and improved the score somewhat. It was restaged again in the revised version in 1881. The music is still much stronger than the story and some of Verdi’s most colorful scene painting.

The stellar cast includes Mirella Freni, Jose Carreras, Jose van Dam, Nicolai Ghiarov, and Piero Capucelli as Boccanegra.

Joe Truskot hosts.

Puccini’s Madama Butterfly


Monday, January 27, 7 p.m.

Host Joe Truskot presents one of the finest recordings of Puccini’s masterpiece featuring tenor Jussi Bjorland and soprano Victoria de los Angeles with the Chorus and Orchestra of Rome’s Opera House conducted by Gabriele Santini.

David Belasco’s play about the American soldier Pinkerton and the young Japanese girl Cho Cho San come to life in this love story with a shocking ending.

Listen to KUSP’s Monday Night at the Opera for artists who know how to sing


Francis Poulenc’s One Act Inspiration

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Monday, August 19, 7 p.m.

Continuing the tribute to the 2013 Carmel Bach Festival’s music from France, KUSP’s Monday Night at the Opera presents Francis Poulenc’s one act opera La voix humaine featuring soprano Julia Migenes and the Orchestre National de France conducted by Georges Prétre.

The inventive story is by Jean Cocteau and presents just one side of a telephone conversation. The music is charming and dramatic.

Then, one of Ernest Chausson’s most effective works, Poème de l’amour and de la mer with the incredible voice of Jessye Norman with support coming from the Philharmonic Orchestra of Monte Carlo conducted by Armin Jordan.

The remainder of the program will feature popular arias from the full range of French opera. Host for this program is Joe Truskot.


Die tote Stadt by Erich Wolfgang Korngold


Monday, July 22, 7 p.m

Erich Leinsdorf directs the Bavarian Radio Orchestra and Chorus in this remarkable opera (The City of the Dead) composed in 1920 by Erich Korngold. The cast includes René Kollo, tenor; Carol Neblett, soprano; and Hermann Prey, baritone.

Joe Truskot hosts the evening of misplaced visions and fantasies. The plot involves  a man who tries to replace a dead wife with one who resembles her. The city is Bruges at the end of the 19th century.

Leo Delibes – Lakmé – Silvia Voinea

Renata Tebaldi – The Girl of the Golden West

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Monday, April 22, 7 p.m.

No, that’s not Kitty Wells on the cover, it’s the great Italian soprano Renata Tebaldi in Giacomo Puccini’s original spaghetti western, La fanciulla del West. Join host Joe Truskot for a complete recording of one of Puccini’s most interesting operas.

In addition to Miss Tebaldi as Minnie, you’ll hear Mario del Monaco as Dick Johnson, Cornell MacNeil and Jack Rance with the Chorus and Orchestra of the Academia di Santa Cecilia, Rome conducted by Franco Capuana. Don’t miss one note coming to you from the Polka Bar and Grill!