The composer Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868) was born into a musical family: his father was a musician and his mother an opera singer. He enrolled in music school in 1806 and was already composing operas as a very young man. He is probably best-known for his comic operas such as Il barbiere di Siviglia – despite its opening night in 1816 being a famous fiasco. Most of his later compositions, however, were in the opera seria tradition. He wrote many of these for Naples’ Teatro San Carlo and La donna del lago (1819) was among them. The story is based on a poem written by Sir Walter Scott in 1810. The setting is Scotland during a rebellion by highland clans against King James V who is wandering the countryside disguised as Hubert. He meets Ellen, the daughter of one of his enemies. She’s in love with one man, her father has promised her to another, the disguised king seems to be making advances on her, there’s a battle and, strangely enough, it all ends happily. It’s a romantic story and the music is lush and melodious. The Metropolitan Opera is now staging its first production of this opera starring (the fabulous) Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diego Florez. You can see it on various dates through the next few weeks at the opera house itself or at a movie theater: the March 14th matinee will be simulcast.