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Bel Canto to be opera

Published 10:06pm Wednesday, February 29, 2012

“Opera Girl’s” opera book will be an actual opera.
Lyric Opera of Chicago on Tuesday announced details of its world premiere, commissioned as part of its Renee Fleming Initiative.
“Bel Canto,” by Peruvian composer Jimmy Lopez, with libretto by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz, is based on the best-selling novel by Ann Patchett, who visited Dowagiac on May 15, 2009, as Dogwood Fine Arts Festival visiting author.

Author Ann Patchett in Dowagiac on May 15, 2009

The new opera, premiering in Lyric’s 2015-16 season, will be conducted by Lyric music director Sir Andrew Davis and directed by Stephen Wadsworth.
Soprano Danielle de Niese stars in the central role.
Patchett’s book, “Bel Canto,” and the new opera, are inspired by the Lima Crisis of 1996-97, when members of a Peru revolutionary movement held hostages at the Japanese ambassador’s house for 126 days.
Like her novel, the opera will explore tensions and unexpected alliances developed by disparate strangers — terrorists and hostages — confined to close quarters for months.
Patchett writes novels about experiences she’s going to have in the future.
Her authoritative writing on opera seemed a premonition for her real-life friendship with Fleming and Patchett’s self-described status as “Opera Girl,” who can hang out backstage at the Met with tenors’ mistresses.
Patchett explained in Dowagiac that, when she decided to write “Bel Canto,” “I had never been to an opera or listened to an opera. My entire experience with opera came from the Bugs Bunny cartoon,” which she embellished with her best Wagnerian Elmer Fudd voice, “Kill the wabbit! Kill the wabbit!”

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