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The Three Queens (Donizetti)

Lyric Opera of Chicago presents The Three Queens, a program that brings together the finales of Gaetano Donizetti’s Tudor trilogy, showcasing three of the most fascinating heroines of opera history. These extraordinary women are interpreted by soprano star Sondra Radvanovsky, who performs them together with an excellent ensemble of soloists and members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus under the baton of Donizetti specialist Riccardo Frizza. Singing these three breathtaking roles on one night is an enormous challenge for any soprano, and this live recording captures all the excitement of this exceptional achievement.

Lyric Opera of Chicago is one of the world’s largest and most prestigious opera houses. Riccardo Frizza is among the most sought-after conductors for nineteenth-century Italian opera, while Sondra Radvanovsky is one of the most in-demand singers of her generation on both sides of the Atlantic. All three make their PENTATONE debut with The Three Queens.

“…This is the finest work I’ve heard Radvanovsky do, not only in the Tudor trilogy, but of her entire gallery of roles. It is evident that she has not only put in the hard work and constant refining to achieve this, but it should be noted that the soprano is 50 here, and the voice is still in its prime, full, unblemished, and actually more secure than ever.

Moreover, this is one of the best performances of Maria’s last half hour on record. Radvanovsky has the true dramatic soprano and grandeur of tone to fill out the Scottish queen’s 3 scenas: the prayer “Deh! Tu di un’umile preghiera—beautifully poignant, with some lines excitingly raised; the penitent “Di un cor che muore,” and most of all the concluding “Ah, se un giorno ritorte,” where the soprano effortlessly unleashes the fullness of her voice, which abets Maria’s mounting urgency with awesome, majestic power.” – Parterre

“The Three Queens project has been a very special highlight of my career. It is very rare when something comes together so quickly and easily. I sang all three Donizetti “Tudor Queens” operas in one season at The Metropolitan Opera during their 2015/2016 season: a first for the Met, and a feat only ever attempted anywhere by a handful of other sopranos. When Maestro Riccardo Frizza came up with the idea over a gin and tonic of doing the final scenes from each of the Donizetti “Tudor Queens” operas in a single performance, I could have kissed him…what a GREAT idea and one that no one had attempted before. Being a person who LOVES challenges, I talked about the idea with Lyric Opera's General director, president and CEO Anthony Freud and he immediately fell in love with it. The challenge of doing the last scenes from each of the operas was twofold: how do you make it exciting for the audience and, quite frankly, could I manage to sing that much technically difficult music in one evening?! The project involved an incredible team of people, including renowned couturier Rubin Singer, whose extraordinary gowns represented a modern take on Tudor fashion. My relationship with Lyric Opera of Chicago goes back to 2002 when I made my debut there in the title role of Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah. Having been born and raised in the Chicago area, I have always had a special connection with the city and its vibrancy.”

Sondra Radvanovsky