Soprano Donata D’Annunzio Lombardi Makes Triumphant Return to Detroit Opera House

Nov 23, 2014 2263

By Sandra Tornberg

Soprano Donata D'Annunzio Lombardi returned to Detroit to sing the role of
Cio-Cio-San in the Michigan Opera Theatre's fabulous production of "Madame Butterfly" on November 21 and 23. Ms. D'Annunzio Lombardi gave a brilliant performance as the trusting and faithful fifteen-year-old former geisha who marries the shallow U.S. Navy Lieutenant Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, performed by tenor Adam Luther.

Madame Butterly by Giacomo Puccini, with libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, had its premiere at La Scala di Milano on February 17, 1904. It was not very successful largely because late completion did not allow adequate time for rehearsals. Puccini went on to revise the opera five times.

The opera is a showcase for the soprano and features one of the most popular arias in the soprano repertoire Un bel di ("One beautiful day"), exquisitely delivered by Ms. D'Annunzio Lombardi. According to Michael Yashinsky, "Puccini realized the lack of balance in his principals' seriousness of sound and sentiment. As he wrote to a conductor friend while he was composing the opera in 1903, 'There is a great part for the prima donna, not much for the tenor...' ". In fact, at the end of the performance Mr. Luther was booed, not because of his singing, but because he had performed the role of his character, a cad, so well.

Butterfly waits patiently for three years for Pinkerton to return, and in the meantime has borne a son. Return he does, with his "real" American wife in tow. Finally realizing her destiny, Butterfly reads the inscription on her father 's knife, the one that he had used to commit suicide "To die with honor when one can no longer live with honor". Ms. D'Annunzio Lombardi's Con onor muore was so beautifully delivered and moving that, as they say, "there wasn't a dry eye in the house."

Ms. D'Annunzio Lombardi, who was born in Avezzano in the province of L'Aquila in Abruzzo, is considered one of today's leading interpreters of Puccini heroines. In 2011 the Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago presented her the prestigious Albo d'Oro Giacomo Puccini award in recognition of her portrayals of Musetta and Mimì ("La Bohème"), Cio-Cio San ("Madama Butterfly"), Liù ("Turandot"), and Magda ("La Rondine"). Her versatile roles include the title role in Maria Stuarda, Antonina ("Belisario"), Desdemona ("Otello"), Madama Cortese ("Viaggio a Reims"), Violetta ("La Traviata"), Micaela ("Carmen"), Adalgisa ("Norma"), and Thérèse ("Les mamelles de Tirésias"). She has performed at important theaters throughout Italy and Europe such as Teatro alla Scala (Milan), Arena di Verona, San Carlo (Naples), Teatro Comunale (Florence), Teatro Regio (Parma), Teatro Carlo Felice (Genova), Théâtre Royal (Versailles), Théâtre du Châtelet (Paris), as well as Zurich Opera and the Staatstheater of Stuttgart, collaborating with stage directors such as Franco Zeffirelli, Jonathan Miller, and Francesca Zambello. She has been conducted by Daniel Oren, Jeffrey Tate, Roberto Abbado, Lorin Maazel and Placido Domingo. In 2012 Ms. D'Annunzio Lombardi was recognized as "Singer of the Year" at the Festival Donizetti di Bergamo for her dual debut roles of Maria Stuarda and Antonina. In 2013 she received another prestigious award, the Gigli D'Oro, in recognition of the high level of artistry and achievement in her versatile career. Ms. D'Annunzio Lombardi made her American debut in May 2014at the Michigan Opera Theatre's production of "Turandot".

A group of thirty-five comprised of members of the Federazione Abruzzese del Michigan and their friends and family members were on hand to cheer for Ms. D'Annunzio Lombardi, who graciously met with us after the performance and posed for photos. We look forward to her return to Detroit!

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