John Osborn – Program Notes

Ryan Haskins, Music Director & Conductor

Featuring:
John Osborn
Lynette Tapia

Program Pieces & Movements

L’ELISIR D’AMORE

  • GAETANO DONIZETTI
    (1797-1848)

GIANNI SCHICCHI

  • GIACOMO PUCCINI
    (1858-1924)

Overture to LA FORZA DEL DESTINO

  • GIUSEPPE VERDI
    (1858-1924)

RIGOLETTO

  • GIUSEPPE VERDI
    (1813-1901)
Intermission
  • FRANZ LEHÁR
    (1870-1948)

DAS LAND DES LÄCHELNS

  • FRANZ LEHÁR
    (1870-1948)

GOLD UND SILBER WALZER, OP. 79

  • FRANZ LEHÁR
    (1870-1948)

LOUISE

  • GUSTAVE CHARPENTIER
    (1860-1956)

WERTHER

  • JULES MASSENET
    (1842-1912)

ROMÉO ET JULIETTE

  • CHARLES GOUNOD
    (1818-1893)

Program Notes

John Osborn

American tenor, John Osborn, was born in Sioux City, Iowa. He attended primary and secondary school, and was heavily involved in music and athletics while growing up in Iowa. Throughout his years at Bishop Heelan Catholic High School, he was often a featured soloist at various honor and choir festivals. He was also a folk-style wrestling champion of the Sioux Interstate Conference in 1990.

His continuing education includes a Bachelor of Music Degree in Vocal Performance from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. He studied voice with Anne Larson, an accomplished mezzo-soprano while at Simpson, and was a winner of the 1994 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions when he was only 21 years old. This immediately gave him international attention. Mr. Osborn was an invited member of the Metropolitan Opera Young Artist Development Program in the fall of 1994. He continued his vocal studies with Edward Zambara, a Greek-American bass, who was teaching at The Juilliard School. As a member of the Met YADP, he studied several songs, arias and roles under such distinguished Met coaches as Nico Castel, Susan Webb, Robert Cowart, Dennis Giocque, Donna Racik, and Stephen Eldridge. He also appeared in masterclasses with several important artists including Hermann Prey, Régine Crespin, Carlo Bergonzi, Eduardo Müller, Barbara Bonney, Sherill Milnes, Ileana Cortrubas, and Regina Resnik, to name a few. He was also First Prize Winner of the 1996 Operalia Voice Competition of Placido Domingo in Bordeaux, France.

In 2012, Mr. Osborn became the first non-Italian to win the Aureliano Pertile Tenor Award in Asti, Italy. He is also a recipient of a 2011 Goffredo Petrassi Award for his contributions to Italian culture in performances as Arnold Melchtal in GUILLAUME TELL by Gioacchino Rossini with Antonio Pappano and the Orchestra and Chorus of L’Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Italy. Furthermore, he’s a winner of the 2014 Bellini d’Oro in Catania, Sicily, the home of Vincenzo Bellini, for his performances in Bellini’s LA SONNAMBULA in Bari, and for his Verdi’s TRAVIATA performances at Arena di Verona. He won the 2016 “Prix d’Amis” from the Friends of the Dutch National Opera for his performance as Cellini in Terry Gilliam’s award-winning production of BENVENUTO CELLINI.

Other awards include the Premio “Franco Abbiati” critics award in the category of “Best Male” singer, 2016; the International Opera Awards “Oscar della Lirica” in the category of “Best Tenor”; and most recently the Premio Cittadina di Diano Marina for his career achievements.

Mr. Osborn’s 2016/17 began with his return to The Metropolitan Opera as Arnold Mélchtal in GUILLAUME TELL; a critically acclaimed return to Teatro San Carlo in Naples, Italy in Rossini’s OTELLO: Ossia il moro di Venezia; a recital alongside his wife, Lynette Tapia, soprano and pianist Beatrice Benzi from La Scala di Milano also in Teatro San Carlo di Napoli; the same recital with pianist and Maestro Ramón Tebar at Opera Naples in Florida; the New Year’s Eve Gala at La Fenice (Capodanno) televised Live nationwide in Italy on January 2, 2017; three performances as Conte di Libenskof in Rossini’s IL VIAGGIO A REIMS as his debut at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Russia; Pollione in NORMA as his debut in Teatro Massimo di Palermo, Sicily; his role debut in LE PROPHETE by Giacomo Meyerbeer as Jean de Leyde alongside his wife, Lynette Tapia, as Berthe, also in his debut at the Aalto Musik Theater in Essen, Germany; Alfredo Germont in Constanta, Romania; a televised concert with Lynette Tapia, Maestro Franco Giacosa, and the Kaunas City Symphony in Kaunas, Lithuania; another run of LE PROPHETE for his return to the Théâtre du Capitôle in Toulouse, France; a concert with his wife and daughter (violin) and Maestro Giacosa in honor of his receipt of the Premio Cittadina Diano Marina in Italy.

Lynette Tapia

Bolivian American soprano Lynette Tapia is consistently acclaimed for her “canary” embellishments and “crystalline coloratura” passages by journalists worldwide. Of a recent performance in Les dialogues des Carmelites the Denver Post says “Tapia’s voice is one that I shall remember in this opera for its sparkle and clarity.” She was a 1996 winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. After winning First Place and the Public’s Choice Award in the Operalia International Voice Competition of Placido Domingo, Ms. Tapia made her European debut singing the title role in “Lakmé” for the Grand Theatre Municipal de Bordeaux. In the U.S. and abroad, she enjoys relationships with opera companies and orchestras including Los Angeles Opera, Portland Opera, Atlanta Opera, Netherlands Opera, Opera Colorado, Washington Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Florentine Opera, Arizona Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Pacific, Opera Orchestra of New York, Dallas Symphony, Washington Concert Opera, Carnegie Hall, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Cologne Philharmonic, the Musikverein in Vienna, among others.

Most recently, Ms. Tapia performed Adina in “L’elisir d’amore” with the Sugar Creek Symphony and Song in Watseke, Illinois, and two concerts marking her Italian debut in Montefalco and Acquasparta (Umbria Music Fest). In the 2006-2007 Season, she performed Italian Singer in “Capriccio” with the Netherlands Opera, toured with the English Chamber Orchestra, and performed Selene the Moon in a world premiere of “Keepers of the Night” by Peter Ash with the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus. Other recent engagements include The Queen of the Night in “Die Zauberflöte” and Lucia (cover) in “Lucia di Lammermoor” with the Los Angeles Opera, Blondchen “Die Entführung aus dem Serail” with Atlanta Opera, Marie in “La fille du régiment” with Todi Music Festival, Rosina in “Il barbiere di Siviglia” with Opera Pacific and Gold Coast Opera, Blondchen in “Die Entführung aus dem Serail” with The Lake George Opera Festival, Cunegonde in “Candide” with Opera Pacific, Adele in “Die Fledermaus” with Augusta Opera and Madison Opera, and La Contessa di Folleville in “Il Viaggio a Reims” with Portland Opera.

Other notable performances have included Najade in “Ariadne auf Naxos” with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Zerbinetta in the same opera with Opera Colorado, Marie in “La fille du Régiment” and Adele in “Die Fledermaus” with Opera Pacific, Lisa in “La Sonnambula” with both Opera Orchestra of New York and Washington Concert Opera, Blondchen in “Die Entführung aus dem Serail” with both Opera Columbus and The Florentine Opera, and Soeur Constance in “Les dialogues des Carmelites” with Santa Fe Opera. Ms. Tapia has been heard throughout the United States and Europe in orchestral concerts and solo recitals. She performed a Gala Concert with the Dallas Symphony and “The Messiah” at Carnegie Hall with Musica Sacra. Her New York recital debut was with Marilyn Horne at Carnegie Hall and since then she has become a part of the annual Marilyn 2022-2023 SEASON 97 Horne Foundation Gala Benefit Concert. She has represented Carnegie Hall in a recital at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, her first appearance in a series presented by Rising Stars, an international debut recital series. Additional appearances have included recitals at Carnegie’s Weill Hall, the Athens Concert Hall, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Cologne Philharmonic, the Musikverein in Vienna, and the Birmingham (England) Symphony Hall. Other awards include First Prize in the George London Foundation and Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation vocal competitions, an Opera Index Award, and winner of the MacAllister Competition. Ms. Tapia received her Bachelor of Music degree from The Cleveland Institute of Music. She has worked with many distinguished conductors including Robert Spano, Julius Rudel, Richard Bonynge, Walter Attanasi, John DeMain, Donald Runnicles, Andrew Litton, and recently has recorded two albums with Christopher Larkin and the English Chamber Orchestra.

DONIZETTI
L’ELISIR D’AMORE

After Rossini’s early retirement in 1829, Gaetano Donizetti was the dominant force in Italian opera, completing an amazing 65 such works. While most were tragic stories, his comedies L’elisir d’amore (The Elixir of Love) and Don Pasquale are mainstays of his reputation. In L’elisir the lovesick bumpkin Nemorino pines for Adina and enlists the help of quack Dr. Dulcamara in providing a love potion to make him irresistible. During the Act I finale, Caro elisir, he drinks the elixir (in reality, just wine) and Adina wonders why Nemorino has lost his lovesick disposition in favor of confidence. In his romance Una furtive lagrima (A furtive tear) he is convinced she loves him.

PUCCINI
GIANNI SCHICCHI

Another Italian composer of operatic tragedies, Puccini made only a couple of lighter exceptions. Gianni Schicchi has proven irresistible for its wry elaboration of an episode in the Inferno (Hell) of Dante, hardly an obvious source for a comic subject! This short opera was intended for performance between two of Puccini’s one-act tragedies, and the three are collectively known as Il trittico (The Trilogy). They were first given at New York’s Metropolitan Opera in 1918, weeks after the end of WWI. Tonight’s two arias drawn from Gianni Schicchi take the story’s Florentine setting as common themes. Rinuccio and Lauretta are lovers in their twenties navigating the family politics of an inheritance while hoping for marriage. Lauretta is given one of Puccini’s soaring melodies for her heart-wrenching plea O mio babbino caro (Oh, my dear daddy). In it, she threatens to throw herself off the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) if she cannot marry Rinuccio. Never mind that the bridge was not yet constructed in its familiar landmark form by the 1299 C.E. setting of the opera. Rinuccio, for his part, acclaims the wily Schicchi, his intended father-in-law. The aria, sung in the style of a Tuscan folksong, tells of the architectural, artistic, and economic glories of Florence.

VERDI
LA FORZA DEL DESTINO OVERTURE

Giuseppe Verdi was ambivalent toward his profession for most of his long life. He was indisputably the king of Italian opera but loathed its politics, mercenary business dealings, and temperamental fits of personnel.

In his late forties, Verdi retreated to his villa Sant’Agata and spent most of his time managing the farm and estate in the Po river valley. An Italian tenor on tour in Russia sent a letter to the maestro making the offer of an opera commission from the Imperial Theatre in St. Petersburg. Verdi’s wife Giuseppina received the letter and replied, promising to “insist, annoy him (Verdi) until we get what we want.” In the event, it wasn’t necessary; Verdi accepted, needing money for building improvements.

After the usual haggling with the censors about the subject—a constant problem for European opera composers—Verdi settled on a Spanish play of a melodramatic character, The Force of Destiny. He had almost a year to write the music before planning a trip to St. Petersburg to supervise the production. For someone accustomed to the Italian climate, a winter in Russia was a dreadful prospect. Only when Giuseppina arranged to have 140 bottles of wine taken along with Italian food did Verdi feel better about it.

The couple was welcomed in November 1861, but the prima donna (leading lady) of the opera was seriously ill and the only one who could sing the demanding part. Verdi got metaphorical cold feet besides his literal ones, and tried to withdraw to no avail. The premiere was simply postponed and he had to schlep back to Italy, finding his house in the disarray of construction. Giuseppina reported on Verdi’s foul mood through this period.

They returned to Russia in the fall of 1862 and the opera was duly performed to acclaim. Unusually for the composer he seemed satisfied, but as productions cropped up in other countries he noticed cuts being made and figured he might as well be the one to make them. Among his other revisions was the expansion of a short orchestral prelude into the full-scale overture heard tonight, with its austere “fate” motive at the beginning, and memorable melodies from the opera. Verdi’s publisher convinced him to take this new 1869 version to La Scala in Milan, the major opera house near his home base. Despite a confusing and somewhat episodic plot, the score’s color and passion have kept it relatively popular, and the overture is one of Verdi’s most played.

VERDI
RIGOLETTO

Situated historically mostly between Donizetti and Puccini, Verdi is often called the greatest of Italian opera composers for his keen sense of psychology in musically drawing a character. Rigoletto is the name of the court jester to the Duke of Mantua, a notorious womanizer. The duke disguises himself as a student in an attempt to seduce the jester’s daughter Gilda, which sets tragic events in motion. Their farewell duet takes place at her home after his appearance to declare his love.

LEHÁR
GIUDITTA

Giuditta is a weightier story, using a larger orchestra, than Franz Lehar usually adopted for his stage works. It comes in 1934 at the end of his career and has pictorial elements familiar from his many light operettas. The title heroine, bored of bourgeois life, has taken up dancing in a North African nightclub, a time and place very close to the film Casablanca. Her catchy aria Meine lippen, sie küssen so heiss (My lips, they kiss so hot) would have been too racy for a younger Lehár back in the nineteenth century.

LEHÁR
DAS LAND DES LÄCHELNS

Das Land des Lächelns (The Land of Smiles) is an operetta set in Vienna, then China, in 1912. It opened in Berlin in 1929. Sou-Chong is a Chinese prince who declares his love for aristocrat Lisa, a Westerner now living with him in his Peking palace. As in Giuditta, the plot contains a woman unhappy with the social constrictions imposed on her, who then acts independently. The prince’s song Dein ist mein ganzes Herz (My whole heart is yours) is one of the composer’s most instantly memorable tunes and became virtually a personal theme for the role’s originator Richard Tauber.

LEHÁR
GOLD UND SILBER WALZER, OP. 79

Prior to being the dominant figure of the Germanlanguage operetta stage in the early twentieth century, Franz Lehár was a military bandmaster. During the Carnival (pre-Lenten) season of 1902, the elderly Princess Metternich planned a ball with the theme gold and silver, extending from star and palm tree décor to guest attire. At such a themed occasion a namesake piece was required to open the festivities and Lehár was her choice to provide it.

The waltz is elaborate, befitting the richness of its title and containing six themes. But that first illustrious crowd did not pay much attention, 100 SIOUX CITY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA starting to talk and dance from the outset. It was only after Lehár sold the waltz to a publisher that it found its way to foreign capitals and spread his fame. Just three years later came his hit operetta The Merry Widow containing another blockbuster waltz.

CHARPENTIER
LOUISE

The heroine of Gustave Charpentier’s Louise defies (albeit reluctantly) expectations of whom she should marry, much to the consternation of her parents. The opera’s text incorporates multiple commentaries on class and social conflict at the turn of the twentieth century in Paris. But Depuis le jour is a conventional love song in sentiment, clothed in luxurious music for the soprano voice. In it, Louise is ecstatic over her relationship with the poet Julien.

MASSENET
WERTHER

A disciplined worker and respected professor, Jules Massenet regularly crafted operas with passionate plots for the Parisian public of the late nineteenth century. Werther is arguably his best for its melodic inspiration and psychological subtlety; it is certainly helped by a skillful adaptation of its source material, The Sorrows of Young Werther, the German novel by Goethe. In that literary classic credited for helping to start the Romantic era in the arts, a young poet pines desperately for the married Charlotte in a village setting and eventually takes his own life.

The gloomy plot was off-putting to early producers and it was only a decade or so after the 1892 premiere that the opera was fully appreciated. Its music is poignantly personal and includes as an emotional climax the tenor aria Pourquoi me reveiller, combining the poet’s fatalistic despair and love of nature.

GOUNOD
ROMÉO ET JULIETTE

Gounod’s Roméo is, like Werther, a French adaptation of a foreign literary classic (again ending in a tenor suicide). Like Massenet, Gounod had tried Goethe as a source author (Faust) and was in his case criticized for liberties in the retelling. This time he adopted Shakespeare’s best-known play and the narrative arc is faithful to the original.

In tonight’s duet (one of four between the title characters), Juliet forgives Romeo for having killed her cousin Tybalt in a duel. However, Romeo was banished from Verona for the deed and is risking legal wrath for being with Juliet, not to mention trouble from the iconic feud between their families. The lovers’ reluctance to part is a theme of the text.

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