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Sing a beautiful Highland fling

By Maria Gregoriou

K-Cineplex in Nicosia (actually Strovolos) and in Kings Avenue Mall in Paphos will take all opera lovers on a ride to New York on Saturday with a screening of the performance of La Donna del Lago, live from the Metropolitan Opera.

Gioachino Rossini’s two-act opera, which will run for approximately three and a half hours, is based on the narrative poem The Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott, set in the medieval Scottish highlands.

Those of you who venture out on Saturday into the world of the lady of the lake will have the privilege of viewing not just a live screening of a show being performed halfway round the world, but also one of the first occasions on which this opera has been staged at the MET.

The main characters are Elena (the lady of the lake), who is played by Joyce DiDonato, and King James V of Scotland, played by Juan Diego Florez. Ms. DiDonato “emerges triumphant,” according to the NY Classical Review. “It doesn’t take much courage to tell the listening public that DiDonato is among the world’s greatest singing actors of any voice type.”

The opera begins with Elena crossing the highlands and singing of her love for Malcolm Groeme. As she goes about her business she comes across King James, who has disguised himself as Uberto in the hope of meeting Elena, whose beauty he has heard much about. Believing the king is a hunter who has lost his way, Elena invites him to her home. He accepts, leaving his men to search for him.

While at her home, the king learns that Elena is betrothed to Rodrigo di Dhu, chief of the Highland clan and his own mortal enemy, but his jealousy is calmed by Elena’s lukewarm reaction to the prospect of her marriage.

In the second act the king, still disguised as Uberto, searches for Elena in order to protect her from the coming bloodshed. When he finds her he declares his love, but she rejects him. Even though she does not share his love, our disguised hero gives her a ring which he claims was given to him by the King and will secure her protection from the King’s forces.

Rodrigo, who has overheard the conversation, attempts to have his soldiers kill the stranger, but Elena intercedes and Rodrigo vows to have a duel with Uberto.
The rest you’ll have to see (and hear) for yourself, but suffice to say it all ends happily – which is not necessarily the case in opera, so be thankful for small mercies. Actually there’s a lot to be thankful for in this production, conducted by Michele Mariotti whose skill with ‘bel canto’ has been widely acclaimed. ‘Bel canto’, incidentally, is an Italian musical style which translates as ‘beautiful singing’ (isn’t that the whole point of opera?), so get ready for some auditory beauty direct from the Big Apple.

La Donna del Lago
Screening of the opera live from the MET. March 14. KCineplex Nicosia and Paphos. 7.55pm. €18/13. Tel: 77-778383

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