Opry Links # 102: Divertimento Edition!
Saturdee Opry Links dug
down deep to come up with FUN STUFF to lighten the spirits. At least it beats
hell out such cheap crap as the horrid "Hamilton" and its rap "music."
singing doll! Nudity! Crazed tenors! Opera buffa! So. . .have a ball! Due to
hundreds of complaints about Saturdee Opry Links being "too sad," I have
endeavored to make each of today's selections. . .divertimento!
Erin Morley in the Met’s staging of “The Tales of Hoffmann,” by
Saturdee Opry Links Overture.
The buoyant, sprightly "Abduction from the Seraglio," by Mozart. Makes your
dog feel like Rin-Tin-Tin.
Just to start things on an up note. . ."Say it ten times fast" is an old
quip (too old), but seems apt in describing what is going on here in
Donizetti's "Don Pasquale." This is a "patter aria," and you will quickly
understand why it is so named. "Don Pasquale," by the way, is a wonderful
farce with a cuckoo plot involving teaching a lusty old fart a lesson. Here
is a brief summary of what takes place in this one little manic patter-passage
with Don Pasquale and Malatesta: The
doctor moves forward to greet Don Pasquale, who tells him of his fiance, Norina's
intended assignation, and his own plan to expose her unfaithfulness before a
magistrate. Got it? Malatesta persuades Pasquale to moderate his plan and Pasquale,
believing him an ally, consents to his conditions, while plotting his
revenge on Norina. (This is about 1/100th of the story.) Anyhow, patter
patter patter. . .Here is the pattering part, excerpted:
OR. . .you may watch a more extended sequence---with English
subtitles---with the patter part beginning at 5:40.
Just because the opera is so damn much FUN, here is
another harum-scarum excerpt from Donizetti's "Don Pasquale." Basically,
this punk, Ernesto, has refused to marry the woman that his rich blowhard
uncle, Don Pasquale, has chosen---instead professing his devotion to the
young widow, Norina. The Don, in his dismay, proclaims that he will marry again
in old age in order to produce a new heir. In this sequence, Norina plots
with Pasquale's doctor, Malatesta, to marry the old man. (She later does
this, transforming from a docile former nun into the shrew of
shrews---driving Pasquale to divorce and to giving his blessings to the
marriage of Ernesto and Norina!) Got it? Me, neither! Here, Norina and Malatesta plot
their scheme in a crazy-goofy duet. (Incidentally, I've had sex with this
soprano many, many times.) And if the opening moments
sound suspiciously like "Questa o Quella," from Verdi's "Rigoletto," my
money is on Verdi having appropriated it.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGbRsHpoZpE
There's an old song called "Singin' in the Bathtub,"
but this precedes it by about a hundred years. This is "So anch'io la virtù
magica," also from Donizetti's romp, "Don Pasquale"---but updated to the
Roaring '20's, and set in, yes, a bathtub. Here Norina brags about the wiley
ways of women when it comes to wrapping men around their widdle finger. The
soprano is Susannah Biller. FUN!
Setting: Norina's house, Rome, early 19th century
Synopsis: Norina is reading a novel about love. After
reading a passage aloud, she explains that she knows all the tricks of
ensnaring a man.
And if you would like to hear it sung by a more ideal
soprano, here is the late, great Lucia Popp. Quite a difference, eh?
(And yes, here is "Singin' in the Bathub:")
Posting this strictly for FUN. You remember fun. It's something that used to
happen in the 20th century. So many of you---hundreds and hundreds---have
complained that the Saturdee Opry Links are always "sad," that your host is
endeavoring today to come up with fun fun fun till her daddy takes the
T-Bird away. Here is something that is probably more frivolous than fun, but
what the hell. You all know "Largo al Factotum" from Rossini's "Barber of
Seville," even if you think you don't. (Hint: "FEE-garo, feee-garo, figaro
figaro feee-garo!") It is sung by the "topman of the city" as he proclaims
his invaluable community status. BUT. . .this is not merely that classic
aria, nossir. This is a WONDERFUL thing that Seattle Opera did in order to
introduce opera to kids. It's "The Dueling Figaros!" I kid you not. It's a
"Figar-off," in which the Factotums split into two topmen of the city,
trading the aria's lines with one another. Meet baritones John Moore and
Have a ball.
OR, if you'd prefer to see how it's conventionally done:
Before all hell breaks loose in Puccini's incomparable "La Boheme," there is
a bit of fun to be had, as the starving rascals gather for a meager bit of
bread and wine on Christmas Eve, there in Rodolfo's drafty garret. A knock
on the door heralds. . .gasp. . .the landlord! Benoit! Come to collect
god-knows-how-much back rent, the Scrooge! Watch how the bohemians evict
this problem. Shakespeare---or W. C. Fields---couldn't have written it
better. There's even a spit-take. (English subtitles.)
Now, you don't really need a translation for this
madcap duet, but I will supply one, anyhow. Here, the foil characters in
Mozart's "The Magic Flute," Papageno and Papagena, who might or might not be
human, at last find one another and rather insanely declare their j-j-j-joy.
With English subtitles.
One more "Flute" excerpt. A prayer for our time:
Evil men are put to flight
Loss is turned to laughter
when the darkness yields to the light
Happiness comes after!
If only the Queen of
the Night had been here to deal with the rabble in the Trump White House. Anyhow, here is the FUN and otherwise delightful
finale---with English subtitles, despite being sung in English (two, two,
two mints in one!)---from act one of Mozart's "The Magic Flute." Guaranteed
to, as The Beatles once sang, "raise a smile." Papageno and Pamima frolic!
There are a million comic sequences in opera, but not many really lend
themselves to excerpting. They tend to require overall, and sometimes
extended, context in order to afford amusement. Such is not the case, of
course, with the "doll song" from Offenbach's remarkable collection of short
stories involving paramours of the writer, E.T.A. Hoffmann, "The Tales of
Hoffmann." This is the charming, and yes, FUN, "Les oiseaux dans la
charmille" ("The birds in the arbor.") The soprano is Erin Morley.
Hoffmann's first love is Olympia, an automaton created by the scientist
Spalanzani. Hoffmann falls in love with her, not knowing Olympia is a
mechanical doll ("Allons! Courage et confiance...Ah! vivre deux!" – Come on!
Courage and confidence ... Ah! to live!). To warn Hoffmann, Nicklausse,
possessing the truth about Olympia, sings a story of a mechanical doll with
the appearance of a human, but Hoffmann ignores him ("Une poupée aux yeux
d'émail" – A doll with enamel eyes). Coppélius, Olympia's co-creator and
this act's incarnation of Nemesis, sells Hoffmann magic glasses to make
Olympia appear as a real woman ("J'ai des yeux" – I have eyes). Olympia
sings one of the opera's most famous arias, "Les oiseaux dans la charmille"
(The birds in the arbor, nicknamed "The Doll Song"), during which she
runs-down and needs to be wound-up before she can continue.
AND here is Sumi Jo in a concert performance of what became a signature role
AND FOR EXTRA FUN, HERE IS PATRICIA PETTIBON DOING IT STARK NAKED! (Sort
"This one or that one," sings the Duke of Mantua in Verdi's "Rigoletto,"
which is to say, all women delight him! (Not to worry, metoo ladies, he gets
his reward for such a cavalier attitude in the end.) But for the nonce, the
duke is carefree and having a good old womanizing time, there in 16th
Century Las Vegas. What? Eh? Well, Verdi set the thing in the 16th century,
but that doesn't stop the poseurs and bozos and idiots of today from swapping it out
for Las Vegas in 1960. (Really.) Here is one of the better tenors of our time, Piotr Beczala, with the "opera greatest hit," "Questa o Quella." Slot
machines and all. What the hell, it's fun. (Sort of.)
OR, if you'd prefer a traditional staging. . .here's Luciano:
Promised a fun edition of SOL, and hope it
fit the bill. Let's raise a glass, either way. We had dueling Figaros earlier,
so here is a sort of "dueling Traviatas." From Verdi's "La Traviata," here
is the brindisi (drinking song), with two pairs of singers: Jose Carerras
and Katia Ricciarelli---and Agnes Baltsa and Ruggero Raimondi. (Note:
Raimondi lost his music, and is left to la-la.")
And if that wasn't fun enough for you, here is a flash mob version from San
Saturdee Opry Links Encore!
"What a wonderful thing is a sunny day." Times three!
About the song, translation:
Back to Opera Links
Back to Home Page