Lidiya Yankovskaya is the music director of Chicago's Opera Lyric Theater. At Spoleto Festival USA she is conducting the U.S. premiere and Spoleto production of Donizetti's Pia de Tolomei. She talks with Jeanette Guinn about the opera, its production, and about learning her craft, as well as the joy she finds in opera.
In this production an episode from Dante’s Purgatorio is recast in pre-World War II Tuscany. This 19th-century opera by Donizetti—whose Lucia di Lammermoor and Maria Stuarda so resonantly portray women in turbulent circumstances—the title character suffers dire consequences due to her husband’s jealousy. A collection of fine Italian paintings pepper breathtaking sets and sharp costumes that evoke 1930s Europe, the visual complement to lush arias and orchestral writing performed by the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra. This opera's high drama, devastating plot, and enveloping score tick all the boxes for lovers of tragic opera.