Back in 1985, Marilyn Horne delivered an unforgettable series of performances as Isabella in Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri, with James Levine on the podium. This October, another American mezzo-soprano with both coloratura agility and comic chops will take on this feisty heroine under the baton of Maestro Levine when Elizabeth DeShong—so memorable in recent Met seasons for comic turns in The Enchanted Island, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and even Lulu—steps into Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s colorful staging. As part of our celebration of the Met’s 50th anniversary at Lincoln Center, we asked DeShong to comment on this archival photo of her legendary operatic forebear.
“In this photo it’s as if she is saying, ‘I knew my eyeliner was crooked on my left eye!’… You can’t have a conversation about bel canto repertoire without acknowledging the incredible contributions of Marilyn Horne. It is an honor to walk in her footsteps in this production of L’Italiana. While we have never crossed paths, there is a sort of kinship to our operatic journeys that I am happy to share. And while I am well-versed in Rossini, having sung Angelina, Rosina, Arsace, and Calbo, Isabella is a role debut for me, and to build my interpretation on top of Maestro Levine’s masterful musical foundation is a dream come true.” —Elizabeth DeShong