Most American opera goers aren't familiar with Zandonai's masterpiece, Francesca da Rimini (1911), which is a shame, because if they like Puccini they will almost certainly like this opera. Zandonai is the composer whom the music publishing house of Ricordi was grooming for the inevitable day when Puccini would stop composing. Puccini resented the attention Tito Ricordi gave Zandonai, but it was not unmerited. Zandonai had scored a success with his opera Conchita, based on a then scandalous French novel, so Ricordi saw him positioned for great things, and gave his next major opera, Francesa da Rimini, a lot of pre-premiere publicity.

It paid off. Francesca was a major hit in Italy, though, unlike Puccini's works, it has never been able to establish a firm foothold outside that country. Still, it is an opera full of lush melodies. And this Met production, which must be 30 years old by now, is every bit as beautiful to look at.

Don't be put off by the unfamiliar title. Go!