Product and Root Vegetable Edition
Yin Huang and Richard Troxell in the excellent film version of Puccini's "Madama
Saturdee Opry Links Overture!
"Cosi Fan Tutte," by Mozart.
Starting today's Saturdee Opry Links is Placido Domingo with that old chestnut, "Questa O Quella,"
from Verdi's "Rigoletto." Nothing but meat-and-potatoes today, or plant-based
pseudo-meat and potatoes, if you prefer. Attention, metoo folk: you might
want to look the other way, or at least ignore the translation.
Setting: A hall in the palace of the Duke of Mantua
Synopsis: After he discloses his wish to woo the Countess Ceprano, the Duke is
warned that the Countess has a jealous husband. The Duke replies that he will go
after any woman that he wants and that he won't be scared off by any jealous
husbands. Wotta guy! "This one or that one---they're all the same to me!"
Should include this in the "addio" edition at the end of the year.
Here is "Addio, Mio dolce amor," from Puccini's early opera, "Edgar,"
as sung by the great Leontyne Price. Yes, I know, "the great" is such a
beaten-up, withered cliche---but it sure is warranted here.
Setting: the front of a fortress, Courtray, Flanders, late 19th century
Synopsis: Fidelia believes that Edgar has died as a great hero in battle. At his
funeral, she sings farewell to her one true love, asking him to wait for her in
Addio, addio mio dolce amor!
Nell'ombra ove discendi,
Solenne, infinita anch'io verrò...
Dove tu regni dolor,
La gioventù non ha più fior!
Addio ancora, addio, o Edgar,
La tua memoria sarà
Il mio sol pensiero!
Lassù, nella tua gloria,
Goodbye, goodbye my sweet love!
In the shadow where you descend,
Solemn, infinite, I too will come ...
Wait for me!
Where you reign pain,
Youth has no more flowers!
Goodbye again, goodbye, or Edgar,
Your memory will be
My only thought!
Up there, in your glory,
Wait for me, Edgar!
"Shining in the rosy light of morning. . ." This aria, from Wagner's comic
opera, "Die Meistersinger," captures such a feeling of hope, love, nostalgia,
wonder. . .there is probably a German word for it! Here intoned in concert by
Ben Heppner (now, sorry to say, retired from opera performance.) And the words
are lovely, too.
Role: Walter von Stolzing, a young knight from Franconia
Setting: a meadow outside of Nuremburg, Germany, mid-sixteenth century
Synopsis: Walter sings his Prize Song for the song contest. It is a beautiful
and magical piece which poetically describes his love for Eva.
(search for "Morgenlich")
Here, from the film production of Puccini's "Madama Butterfly," is the
soaring, astonishing, heart-rending love duet from act one. Note how it seems to climax with an
orchestral chord that is nearly, but not completely fulfilling, which is a hint
that this love is not destined for a good end. Genius, that Giacomo.
"Love me with a little love," sings poor Butterfly, "a child-like love/ the kind
that suits me/ Love me, please/ We are a people used to small, modest, quiet
things/ to a tenderness gently caressing/ yet vast as the sky and as the waves
of the sea."
In 1904, a U.S. naval officer named Pinkerton rents a house on a hill in
Nagasaki, Japan, for himself and his soon-to-be wife, "Butterfly". Her real name
is Ciocio-san (cio-cio, pronounced "chocho," the Japanese word for "butterfly"
(蝶々 chōchō); san is a plain honorific). She is a 15-year-old Japanese girl whom
he is marrying for convenience, and he intends to leave her once he finds a
proper American wife, since Japanese divorce laws are very lax. The wedding is
to take place at the house. Butterfly had been so excited to marry an American
that she had earlier secretly converted to Christianity. After the wedding
ceremony, her uninvited uncle, a bonze, who has found out about her conversion,
comes to the house, curses her and orders all the guests to leave, which they do
while renouncing her. Pinkerton, who finds himself captivated by Butterfly
despite his ulterior motive, sings of his love in a duet with Cio-Cio San, and
they prepare to spend their first night together.
The tenor is Richard Troxell, the soprano is Ying Huang. With English subtitles.
And here is a short excerpt from the gorgeous, highly original, recent Met production,
in this case with Roberto Alagna and Kristine Opalais.
In another duet of doomed love, Alfredo and Violetta, united at last, sing of
their plans to leave Paris and make a new and happy life together---despite
their mutual knowledge that Violetta is dying. Opera, you know. This is "Parigi, o cara," from
"La Traviata," by Verdi, with Renee Fleming and Joseph Calleja. Note
the difference between Puccini's rhapsodic, sweep-you-off-your feet style, and
Verdi's stately melodiousness.
Violetta's capricious declaration of independence, "Sempre Libera," from
Verdi's "La Traviata," is staged and acted in many ways. Here are three
examples, just for fun. Yes, really---fun. You remember fun. First is a very traditional, happy,
straightforward rendering with the charismatic Anna Moffo, followed by a sort of
willful, semi-drunken declamation by Renee Fleming (in exaggeratedly traditional
attire against a modern backdrop), and finally Anna Netrebko in a borderline
nervous breakdown interpretation (against a cuckoo modern set.)
Setting: A salon in the house of Violetta after a big party
Synopsis: In the first part of this aria, Violetta muses over the offer of
Alfredo's love and wondering if he is her true love after her numerous flings.
In the second part, she decides not to worry about her problems and, instead,
live only for pleasure and freedom.
And in further plant-based faux meat and root vegetable selections. . .As I
always say, nothing will ever surpass Robert Merrill and Jussi Bjorling's
recording of the so-poignant duet of sworn friendship from "The Pearl Fishers"
(and I am not alone in that opinion), but this is wonderful, anyhow. Yes, the
good will and heart of this duet are written in the music, but the personalities
of the singers always infuse it uniquely. As was the case with tenor Jonas
Kaufmann and the late, great baritone, Dmitri Hvorostovsky. You can feel their.
. .feeling of the music, their commitment to the idea being expressed---which is
one of putting aside mutual affection for a woman in order to remain true, fast
friends. "I wish to cherish you like a brother. . ." (Please ignore P.C. Wiki
and "scholars" who absurdly insist on adding homosexual implications.
As if men can't simply be friends.)
I try not to post this often, because it has been
all-but-ruined by car commercials and dumbed-down "classical" radio. These
factors, however, do not diminish its stupendous beauty, its delicate, beguiling
charm. So there, marketing bastards! There are superior renditions (Joan
Sutherland and Huguette Turangeau's popular Youtube item comes to mind), but I
love to watch these two Frenchies invest it with such heart.
Here is the "flower duet" from "Lakme," by Leo Delibes ("Sous le dôme épais"),
as sung by Sabine Devielhe and Marianne Crebassa. May your day be filled with
such loveliness. (I know, fat chance.)
Lyric tenor Piotr Beczala has also made his Wagnerian debut, along with Anna
Netrebko, in "Lohengrin." Opera News' (brilliant) reviewer, Fred Cohn, had much
praise for Netrebko, but noted that Beczala could get raw in especially taxing
upper register passages. Still, sounds plenty good to these ears. Here he is
with "In Fernem Land," an aria very much favored by one of my cats, who falls
into a deep sleep whenever she hears it.
Synopsis : To this point, the Knight has not been allowed to tell his name or
his origin. However, he now must leave because he has killed Frederick, the
Count of Brabant, and now tells his past. He is a Knight of the Grail from the
island of Montsalvat and his father is Parsifal, the leader of all the Knights
of Grail who strive to do good in the world as long as no one knows their
secret. He finally reveals that his true name is Lohengrin.
Translation: (search for "fernem")
About the opera:
Ending our plant-based meat product and root vegetable edition (more or less) is
a little subversive Verdi. Huh? Here's a toast to all people of good heart, as
they are the only feeble hope for this planet. "L'biamo," or the "brindisi"
(drinking song) from Verdi's "La Traviata," as sprung on the unsuspecting in a
marketplace in Philadelphia. Who says people don't like opera?
Setting: A late-night party at the house of Violetta Valery
Synopsis: Alfredo is convinced by Gastone and Violetta to show off his voice. He
sings (as this title suggests) a drinking song.
Back to Opera Links
Back to Home Page