September operas on WETA Classical’s Opera Matinee open September 3 with a drama of deceit and deception set against a mysterious 17th century Venice: La Gioconda, by Amilcare Ponchielli. You’re no doubt familiar with its famous ballet segment, the Dance of the Hours, that symbolizes the passing of day to night and, in a larger sense, good versus evil. The famed Teatro alla Scala in Milan gave the world premiere in 1876, and it’s the presenting company of this production.

A scene from La Gioconda
A scene from Ponchielli's La Gioconda, airing on September 3.

Vincenzo Bellini’s final opera, I Puritani (The Puritans), is a prime example of the bel canto style of opera that emphasizes long, flowing lines of melody. It airs September 10. The backdrop is the 17th century English civil war and its effect on lovers from different camps. Roberto Abbado, nephew of the late, acclaimed conductor Claudio Abbado, will conduct the Rome Opera Orchestra.

A scene from I Puritani
A scene from Bellini's I Puritani, airing on September 10

Georges Bizet’s, The Pearl Fishers, airs September 17 in a production from China’s National Centre for the Performing Arts. The setting is exotic: the island of Ceylon during ancient times, where two men’s vow of eternal friendship becomes threatened when they love the same woman, a priestess who in turn is conflicted between secular love and sacred vows. The opera is best known for its gorgeous duet between the male leads – a tenor and a baritone – as they profess their undying friendship. Bizet wrote it as a commission after winning the prestigious Prix de Rome and before composing his most famous work, Carmen.

A scene from Bizet's Pearl Fishers
A scene from Bizet's Pearl Fishers, airing on September 17

And on September 24, a “lyric fairy tale” -- Antonín Dvořák’s Rusalka, based on Slavic legend of a water sprite who experiences human love in another production from China’s National Centre for the Performing Arts.

Enjoy opera on Opera Matinee, each Saturday afternoon at 1PM ET on WETA Classical.

A scene from Dvorak's Rusalka
A scene from Dvořák’s Rusalka, airing on September 24

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