Giuseppe Verdi


A weekly Quixotic pursuit for appreciators of opera who don't expect too much, would-be appreciators of opera who don't know what to expect, and those somewhere in-between,
such as your host.

Thrown together in haste every
Saturdee morning by
Rip Rense

Giacomo Puccini

OPRY LINKS 13: Delicacy and Poignancy

Sumi Jo                                                Henri Duparc

Saturdee Opry Links Overture!
Donizetti: "Gemmy di Vergy"

Today’s Opry Links opens/open with. . .Joan Baez. Eh? Huh? Yes, Joanie, you see, loves Jussi. Here she visits the Jussi Bjorling Museum in Sweden and talks about her love for the great man's voice. (Beats Dylan!)


And here is Joan's favorite Bjorling recording, the moody and moving Swedish song, "Tonerna." Translation below.
Text: Erik Gustaf Geijer
Musik: Carl Sjöberg

“Tanke, vars strider blott natten ser
Toner, hos eder om vila den ber
Hjärta, som lider
som lider av dagens gny
Toner till eder
Till er vill det fly”

This short poem is impossible to translate to English. Here’s the translation from the liner notes:
“Thoughts, whose struggles only the night knows.

Music, they ask you for peace.
The heart that suffers.
That suffers from life’s commotion.
Music, to you - to you it wants to escape.”

Today's Saturdee Opry Links Theme is "arias of delicacy and poignancy." What's that you say? You can throw a brick at an opera and hit an "aria of delicacy and poignancy?" Quite so. so I threw a few bricks. The first one hit: “Depuis Le Jour,” or “Since the Day,” from “Louise,” by Charpentier. Mirella Freni, soprano.

Translation, setting:
And although I don't think anyone can touch Mirella Freni's delicacy in this aria, for those who prefer to watch the singer in action, there's nothing wrong with the rich, creamy voice of Renee Fleming:


The incredibly tender and touching "Marietta's Lied," from the fine 20th century opera, "Die Tote Stadt," by Eric Wolfgang Korngold. As lovely as lovely can be. Anne Sofie Von Otter, soprano.
Setting: Paul's room devoted to his dead wife Marie, Brussels, late 19th century
Synopsis: After Marietta and Paul meet for the first time, she sings an intensely sad song about lost love for him.
Night sinks into the grove. . .
Translation, setting:


One of many extraordinary songs by by the tragedy-beset composer, Henri Duparc.  From Wikipedia:  Duparc is best known for his 17 mélodies ("art songs"), with texts by poets such as Baudelaire, Gautier, Leconte de Lisle and Goethe. A mental illness, diagnosed at the time as "neurasthenia", caused him abruptly to cease composing at age 37, in 1885. He devoted himself to his family and his other passions, drawing and painting. But increasing vision loss after the turn of the century eventually led to total blindness. He destroyed most of his music, leaving fewer than 40 works to posterity.

Here is "Chanson Triste." "Sad Song," and well it should have been. Sung by the fairly incomparable Sumi Jo.
About Duparc:

The haunting---some would say devastating---"O Patria Mia" from Verdi's "Aida," with Leontyne Price. A princess laments that she will never see her homeland again. Live on stage at the Met, with English subtitles.
Aida, the Ethiopian princess captured by the Egyptians, fell in love with her captor, Radames, who was unaware of her royal lineage. Sadly, Radames is engaged to marry the Egyptian princess, Amneris. While Aida waits outside of the temple to meet with Radames, her father, King Amonasro (who was captured in battle, but whose true identity remains unknown), asks her to learn the position of the Egyptian troops. Feeling nostalgic and missing her homeland, she agrees to her father's request, despite the precarious position she now finds herself. After the conversation with her father, Aida sings "O Patria Mia" ("O, my country. . .").

Here is the deceptively "pretty" "Ach, Ich Fuhl's," (
"I feel it") from "The Magic Flute." Kiri te Kanawa, soprano. The opera writer, William R. Braun, has devoted an entire article to explaining how and why this aria is so deeply extraordinary. And you thought it was just a nice tune, eh? (Me, too!)
In 1975, "Ach, ich fühl's" was paid an extraordinary tribute. It came not from a musician but from Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman. In Bergman's loving and musically responsive film of the opera, "Ach ich fühl's" is presented in a single take from a single camera. No video director of the opera today would acknowledge that the music was interesting on its own, would hear that every change of harmony except one is a surprise, or would understand that the piece represents both the culmination of Western musical thought up to its own moment in history and the course it would take in the next century. Nowadays, the aria would have eight or ten changes of camera angle, each of them swooping and gliding. But everyone agrees that Bergman knew something about making a film, and let it be noted that he had an ear for music as well.

True, there is no such thing other than a Puccini aria that is not gorgeous. Yet "Doretta's Beautiful Dream," from "La Rondine" ("The Swallow"), is other-worldly for its subtlety and allure.  Renee Fleming, soprano.
Setting: Act I
Paris, the 1920s. The wealthy Rambaldo and his mistress, Magda, are entertaining theatrical and literary friends. Prunier, a poet and the lover of Magda’s maid, Lisette, declares that romantic love is back in fashion. No one except Magda takes him seriously. When Prunier sings a ballad he has written about a girl who rejects the love of a king, Magda sits at the piano and finishes the song, making up a second verse that tells how the girl falls in love with a student (“Chi il bel sogno di Doretta”).

Yes, you've heard it in the movie, "Diva," but don't hold that against it. These are the exquisitely floating lines of
"Ebben! Ne andrò lontana"---"Ah, well, then---I shall go far away," from "La Wally," by Alfredo Catalani. Just to underline the proceedings, the Maria Callas recording.
Setting: Wally is secretly in love with a man from another town named Giuseppe Hagenbach who is also her father Stromminger’s mortal enemy!(Well maybe not mortal enemy but you get it…) So on Stromminger’s 70th birthday, another man named Vincenzo Gellner confides to Stromminger about his suspicions of Wally and Hagenbach.
Putting two and two together, Stromminger realizes that Gellner is in love with his daughter and he decides that she would be better off with Gellner. Wally comes in and he tells her that she either marries his silver fox friend within a month or be banished from his household forever. (This scene could be heavily strengthened if the artist singing Stromminger has a huge cape.) Wally replies that she would rather take her chances in the Alpine snow then drags Walter away into the freezing snow with her. This is when she sings the aria “Ebben, ne Andro Lontana?” and departs for the mountains.

For those who prefer to see the aria sung live, here’s Anna Netrebko:


Started today with Jussi Bjorling, so will end with him. You can't go out on a better note, ever.
"En Svane" ("The Swan"), by Grieg.
My swan, my silent one,
With white plumage,
Your delightful songs,
No trill betrayed.


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