Guiseppe Verdi’s Luisa Miller (1849) is making its local debut on the Israel Opera stage from January 3-19, the first of three Verdi productions to commemorate the composer’s 200th birthday. The director is the late Götz Friedrich. The revival director is the Berlin Opera’s Gerlinde Pelkowski, also making her Israeli debut. The conductor is Daniel Oren.

Luisa Miller is based on Friedrich von Schiller’s (1759- 1805) drama Intrigue and Love, a kind of Romeo and Juliet tragedy in which, as befits the tempestuous Sturm und Drang ethos, the stage is full of bodies at the final curtain.

Luisa, the daughter of a musician (sopranos Leah Crocetto and Aurelia Florian) and Carlo are in love, but Carlo is actually Rodolfo (tenor Francesco Hong), the son of a nobleman. The course of their true love definitely does not run smooth. Luisa’s father is arrested, and in order to save him from the executioner, poor Luisa is forced to write a letter in which she declares her love for a nasty called Wurm (basses Carlos Striuli and Cigni) – well of course he’s had a hand in all the skullduggery – and when Rodolfo reads the letter... you can guess the rest.

The lovers take poison and when the truth is revealed, it’s Too Late, but not too late for Rodolfo to run Wurm through with his last breath.

The Sturm und Drang (usually translated as Storm and Stress) movement originated in Germany in the 1760s as a reaction the more cerebral principles of the Enlightenment. Its aim was to shock and to inspire in audiences extremes of emotion.

Schiller’s play was first produced in 1784 and was a huge hit. The opera premiered in 1849 in Naples.

Oren is a Verdi devotee and has long championed “A Verdi opera the public isn’t familiar with.” The other two Verdis this season will be Otello and La Traviata.

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