LINKS 11: Waltz Edition!
Saturdee Opry Links Overture.
Waltz from "Der Rosenkavalier," by Richard Strauss.
ONE-two-three, ONE-two-three. . .Yes, there is an opera of "Robinson
Crusoe," and a comic opera, at that, by Jacques Offenbach. One aria remains
a kind of standard of the soprano repertory, "Conduisez-moi vers celui que
j'adore" ("Take me to the one I adore"), or "Edwige's Waltz." Here is
delightful Sumi Jo with this delightful song. The scene is quite amazing, as
this synopsis suggests:
SUMMARY: In another part of the island, Edwige, Suzanne and Toby have
arrived to look for Robinson. They too have been attacked by and escaped
from pirates. Toby and Suzanne are captured by the cannibals, and meet their
old Bristol neighbout Jim Cocks. He had run away to sea ten years earlier,
and, captured by the cannibals, has become their cook. He cheerfully informs
Suzanne and Toby that they will be the cannibals' dinner that evening. At
sunset, Edwige is brought in by natives, who believe that she is a white
goddess. She is to be sacrificed to their god, Saranha, and sings this merry
(No translation available, but the title gives you the general idea.)
Here's how it can look on stage:
Waltzes abound in opera and operetta (Offenbach seems to have been the
operatic waltz-king) but Puccini bordered on obsessing with the form in his
operetta-like opera, "La Rondine." Much of act two is in waltz time, and the
big duet in act three is, as well. Here is the opening of act two. The waltz
portion is roughly the first thirteen minutes.
Crowds of people are enjoying themselves at Bullier's (Fiori freschi!).
Women sell flowers, couples dance, students drink and pick up girls, lovers
are kissing. The champagne is flowing, as a group of grisettes discuss men
and love. A group of students notice a hesitant figure approaching. It is
Magda. They declare her to be shabby, but utterly charming. One offers Magda
his arm, which she declines. The students cluster around, prompting Magda to
agree that she already has a date. They see her look at Ruggero as he enters
the restaurant. Assuming the young man is whom she was waiting for, they
bring her to him. Magda begs his pardon for her intrusion (Scusatemi,
scusate). Ruggero asks her not to leave. He tells her that she seems
different from the other girls here. This pleases her. She sits down.
Ruggero asks her why she is so shy and lonely. She reminds him, he tells
her, of the girls from Montauban, who are all smiles and youth when they
dance to an old song. When she seems to not fully understand his comment, he
tells her that the girls of Montauban are very beautiful, but simple and
modest. "Unlike the girls here, in Paris, they need only a simple flower in
their hair as adornment. Like you." When Magda wishes she could dance like
the girls of Montauban, Ruggero asks her if she would like to dance with
him. Once in his arms, she recalls to herself how this is like her
experience of youth. The two join the crowd of dancers, lost in a dream of
intoxicating love (Nella doce carezza della danza).
"The piano has been drinking," Tom Waits once sang, and that is the gist of
this little waltz, "Ah! quel diner!" from Offenbach's "La Perichole." (Also
known as "Je suis grise," or "I am gray.") If the tempo is a little
unsteady, so is the soprano. Here is Anne Sofie von Otter.
The Viceroy, enchanted with her beauty, offers her a position as Lady in
Waiting at the court as soon as she awakes. Despite her suspicions about
what he has in mind, she is persuaded by his offer of banquets and accepts,
writing a loving farewell letter to Piquillo. Since all Ladies in Waiting
must be married, Don Pedro and Panatellas leave to search for a husband for
Périchole. They find Piquillo, who is about to hang himself after reading
Périchole's farewell letter. After plenty to drink, Piquillo reluctantly
agrees to marry the Viceroy's new favorite, although he does not know who it
is. Périchole has also been plied with drink by the Viceroy ("Ah, quel
diner"), but she agrees to the marriage when she recognizes Piquillo.
Ah! quel dîner je viens de faire!
Et quel vin extraordinaire!
J'en ai tant bu, mais tant tant tant,
Que je crois bien que maintenant
Je suis un peu grise. Mais chut!
Faut pas qu'on le dise! Chut!
Si ma parole est un peu vague.
Si tout en marchant je zigzague,
Et si mon oeil est égrillard.
Il ne faut s'en étonner, car...
Je suis un peu grise, mais chut!
Faut pas qu'on le dise! Chut!
Ah! what a dinner I have just made!
And what an extraordinary wine!
I have drunk so much, but so many,
That I believe that now
I am a little gray. Quiet!
Do not be told! Hush!
If my word is a bit vague.
If while walking I zigzag,
And if my eye is égrillard.
Do not be surprised, because ...
I'm a little gray, but hush!
Do not be told! Hush!
The most famous waltz in opera? Either "Quando me'n vo" from Puccini's "La
Boheme" or this one, "Libiamo, ne’ lieti calici," from, of course, "La
Traviata," by Verdi. It's the song that La Perichole might have sung before
"Ah, quel diner!" Yes, "let's enjoy this moment fervently, while it lasts."
Words to live by. Here, Alfredo and Violetta meet and raise a toast. Juan
Diego Florez and Diana Damrau in a beautiful Met production. With subtitles.
There are many waltz interludes in opera, some all instrumental, some with
choruses. Here is one with chorus from "Faust," by the underrated Charles
Gounod. With English subtitles. Here is the synopsis of the entire act two.
The waltz comes toward the end. With English subtitles.
At the city gates, a chorus of students, soldiers and villagers sings a
drinking song (Vin ou Bière). Valentin, leaving for war with his friend
Wagner, entrusts the care of his sister Marguerite to his youthful friend
Siébel (O sainte médaille ... Avant de quitter ces lieux). Méphistophélès
appears, provides the crowd with wine, and sings a rousing, irreverent song
about the Golden Calf (Le veau d'or). Méphistophélès maligns Marguerite, and
Valentin tries to strike him with his sword, which shatters in the air.
Valentin and friends use the cross-shaped hilts of their swords to fend off
what they now know is an infernal power (chorus: De l'enfer). Méphistophélès
is joined by Faust and the villagers in a waltz (Ainsi que la brise légère).
Marguerite appears and Faust declares his admiration, but she refuses
Faust's arm out of modesty, a quality that makes him love her even more.
Wonderful Adriana Martino sang in the gorgeous "La Boheme" movie as realized
by Franco Zeffirelli, and one or two other filmed productions, and then. .
.zip. She is apparently still living, but how and why her operatic career
died is not known. Here she is with "Quando m'en vo," or Musetta's waltz,
from the great filmed "Boheme" of 1965. With English subtitles. Such a
great, great scene.
Can he make it? It's getting close to the finish, and his limited opera
knowledge is failing! Can he manage to post TEN waltzes from opera? He can
only think of one more! But wait---it's in 6/8! Is that a waltz? Hmmm. .
.Well, you can waltz to it, even if it's technically a. . .barcarolle, from
Offenbach's "Tales of Hoffmann." You knew it was coming. . ."Belle nuit, ô
nuit d'amour." It's just a rhapsodic, practically ecstatic, declaration.
And here is how it can look on stage:
Gee, what a surprise to find a waltz in an opera (operetta, to be correct)
by. . .Johann Strauss II. Of course, it is from "Die Fledermaus," an
ever-endearing farcical tribute to love. If you go to about 1:32:00 of this
full performance, and wait a minute or two, you will recognize the hit tune
that follows. In English.
In a rousing finale, Orlofsky makes a toast to champagne, and the company
celebrates (The Champagne song: "Im Feuerstrom der Reben"/"In the fire
stream of the grape"; followed by the canon: "Brüderlein, Brüderlein und
Schwesterlein"/"Brothers, brothers and sisters" and the waltz finale, "Ha,
welch ein Fest, welche Nacht voll Freud'!"/"Ha, what joy, what a night of
delight.") Eisenstein and Frank dash off as the clock strikes six in the
Of course, you knew it all along: there is a waltz in Tchaikovsky's opera,
"Eugene Onegin." Well, you knew it, but I didn't. I did attend a performance
of this opera, and slept extremely well, thanks. So I missed this waltz,
which, yes, you will recognize!
This is the reception room of the house of Larins, where a ball is in
progress. The room is brightly lit by a central chandelier and candles in
sconces along the wall. Uniformed officers are among the guests. As the
curtain rises, the younger people are dancing a waltz while the older ones
watch admiringly. Eugene Onegin is dancing with Tatyana and Lensky with
Olga. Mme Larina bustles about with the air of an anxious hostess.
And here is a better-recorded concert performance:
Go here and search for, yes, "waltz."
Does this count? There is an opera choreographer named Sascha Waltz. No, I
guess not. Hmm. . .Well, our all-waltz edition of Saturdee Opry Links is
teetering on the brink of unfulfillment! But wait. What's that I hear? Yes,
yes, I think it's. . .oom-pah-pah. . .Why, it's "Die Lustige Witwe," by
Franz Lehar. You know it better as "The Merry Widow." Go to about 35:00 into
this wonderful performance. And if you don't recognize it, tch tch.
By the way, the dance was considered scandalous in its time:
And I wasn't kidding about Sascha Waltz: