Opera websites describe Riccardo Zandonai’s “Francesca da Rimini” as “a tale of doomed lovers.”
But you might also call it “a tale of horrible brothers,” and you could argue about who has the worst sibling.
Does Francesca? Or does her beloved Paolo?
If you visit Movies 14 in Wilkes-Barre or Cinemark 20 in Moosic on Saturday to watch the live-from-the-Met performance, you can decide for yourself.
Inspired by a scene from Dante’s “Inferno,” the story begins with Francesca’s brother, Ostasio, tricking his sister into an arranged marriage with the “cruel” and “deformed” Giovanni. Part of his deceit involves having her meet Giovanni’s handsome younger brother, Paolo, so she will mistakenly believe he is her future husband.
Paolo and Francesca fall in love and never stop loving each other, though by Act II she will be dutifully married to Giovanni.
“She had no choice in the matter. She was just handled,” said opera fan Jeannette Garber of Wilkes-Barre, who hopes to see “Francesca da Rimini” this weekend. “We all know women haven’t been fairly treated throughout history.”
So, thanks for making sure your sister will have a miserable life, Ostasio. You’re all heart.
But wait. The cast includes yet another brother. Giovanni and Paolo have a younger sibling, Malatestino, who makes advances to Francesca. When she refuses him, he makes sure Giovanni learns about Francesca’s relationship with Paolo.
You can guess what happens next because, of course, Giovanni will seek revenge.
The Metropolitan Opera’s 240-minute telecast stars Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek in the title role and Italian tenor Marcello Giordani as Paolo.
Zandonai isn’t one of the most well-known composers, said Garber, who expects Saturday’s performance to be the first time she’s ever heard his work. It also will be the first time she’s heard Westbroek’s voice.
She’s looking forward to the new experience and urges other music fans to join her in attending the telecast.
“Some people are put off by the length of time involved,” she said, “but there is an intermission so you can stretch your legs. Some of my friends are in their 90s, but they’ll be walking the halls.”