Francesca is no Anna

Riccardo Zandonai’s “Francesca da Rimini” doesn’t surface very often in a major opera house. The Met’s 2013 revival was the first in 27 years – and that 1984 run was its first since a staging shortly after its 1916 premiere. It’s hard to find anyone arguing it’s been unjustly overlooked, and its story, based on a play in turn based on Dante, is of the familiar doomed-love variety. The Associated Press reviewer calls it a “schmaltzy verismo melodrama with charged music and enough family turmoil to fill several soap opera seasons.”

Still, it’s a lush and luxuriant score, with a lush and luxuriant staging. Eva-Marie Westbroek won strong notices as Francesca, as has her co-star, Marcello Giordani. Westbroek is perhaps best-known among opera fans for her leading role in Covent Garden’s rather celebrated 2011 premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s opera “Anna Nicole,” and proved the range of her talents two months later with an also-lauded Met debut as Sieglinde in “Die Walküre.”

There’s more background about the opera and this production on the Met’s site.

You can find a DVD of the last Met production, starring Renata Scotto and Placido Domingo, at Amazon.