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

SATURDEE OPRY LINKS 34: Unbridled Emotion Edition

Mario del Monaco

Saturdee Opry Links Overture!
Saturdee Opry Links Overture.
Franz von Suppé: Poet and Peasant Overture
(Operetta long eclipsed; only the overture remains.)


Saturdee Opry Links opens with a great aria of self-pity. I can relate! Here is "La vita è inferno all’infelice…O tu che seno agli angeli" from Verdi's "La Forza del Destino." Sung by Beniamino Gigli. 
Setting: Italy, near the town of Velletri
Synopsis: Don Alvaro, Leonora's half-Indian suitor, is musing on his lost love - Leonora. He decries the fate that befell his parents and denied his royal throne. He has come to Italy as Captain of the Spanish Grenadiers to fight in the army.
Translation, and a few other versions: 

Here is the greatest fake Italian aria ever written. It's so convincing in beauty and emotionality (and rather overblown poetry) that it could take its place legitimately in the pantheon (whatever a pantheon exactly is) of great Italian arias. It was written by Richard Strauss for his opera, "Der Rosenkavalier," for a scene where "An Italian Tenor" entertains Princess Marie Therese von Werdenberg in her boudoir. This is "Di Rigori Amato," sung by Mario Lanza, accompanied by Jacob Gimpel at the piano.  (See top.)
(for translation, scroll down on the Lanza page link above.)

In today's Unbridled Emotion edition of Saturdee Opry Links, we turn to the unbridled schmaltz of the Franz Lehar operetta classic, "Dein ist Mein Ganzes Herz," here "impassioned" by Placido Domingo (who is about to take on his 150th role in opera performances!) "You are my heart's delight!"
About the aria, translation:

"Put on the costume." Get on with it. "Vesti la Giubba," from "Il Pagliacci" by Leoncavallo, perhaps never got such an investment of feeling as it does here from Mario del Monaco, live on stage in Japan. Rather astonishing.
Setting: The entrance to a village, Calabria, Italy, 1860s
Synopsis: Canio, the head of a traveling performing troupe, sings that, although his love has betrayed him and his heart is broken, he must go on and show a cheerful face to the world.

Crazed tenors need not be crazed in order to put emotion across, as is here exemplified by Tito Schipa singing the eternally lovely "M'appari" ("She appeared to me") from "Martha," by Flowtow. Schipa was a "tenore di grazia," or "graceful tenor," essentially a lighter tenor voice. 
Setting: A hunting park in Richmond Forest, England, 18th century during the reign of Queen Anne
Synopsis: After meeting Lady Harriet the night before disguised as "Martha", Lionel sees her again with the ladies-in-waiting for Queen Anne. He is struck again by her beauty and grieves that he will probably never be with her again.

Pavarotti reacts to, and explains the greatness of Schipa:

Here is the elegant, gorgeous duet from Verdi's "La Traviata," "Un di felice eterea" ("One happy day.") Sung by Nicolai Gedda and Anna Moffo. What? Elegant? Right, it's not "unbridled emotion." (Sue me.) Opera often deals in, uh, bridled emotions, expressed in the most artful fashion. 
From the next room, the sound of the orchestra is heard and the guests move there to dance. After a series of severe coughs and almost fainting, Violetta begins to feel dizzy and asks her guests to go ahead and to leave her to rest until she recovers. While the guests dance in the next room, Violetta looks at her pale face in her mirror. Alfredo enters and expresses his concern for her fragile health, later declaring his love for her (Alfredo, Violetta: Un dì, felice, eterea – "One day, happy and ethereal"). At first, she rejects him because his love means nothing to her, but there is something about Alfredo that touches her heart. He is about to leave when she gives him a flower, telling him to return it when it has wilted, which will be the very next day.

Here is remarkable Anna Netrebko in her more recent assaying of heavyweight roles (accompanied by heavier weight.) This is the poignant, wrenching, "La Mamma Morta," from "Andrea Chenier," by Giordano.
Setting: The Revolutionary Tribunal. 
Synopsis: Maddalena tells Gérard about the death of her mother in the flames of her home that was burned by a mob. She tells of Bersi selling herself on the streets to provide for her. During her misery, love came to her and gave her the kiss of death. She finishes by telling Gérard to take her body for Chénier's life.

The composer Franco Alfano is known chiefly for having finished Puccini's "Turandot," but he wrote four operas of his own. Here, from his "Cyrano de Bergerac," are Jennifer Rowley as Roxane and Atalla Ayan as Christian. Roxane confesses having fallen in love with Cyrano's words, not the man who spoke them. With English subtitles. 

Roberto Alagna (still going strong in mid-50's) and Angela Gheorghiu were still married at this point, so it is reasonable to assume that some of the emotions of this scene are quite real. Either that, or they were great actors. From Puccini's "La Boheme," the duet, "O Soave Fanciulla," ("O Beautiful Girl in Moonlight.") 

The Operatic Break-up: 

Is there a more anguished aria in opera than "Dio! mi potevi scagliar" from Verdi's "Otello?" Here, on stage in Tokyo in 1959, is Mario del Monaco, the man who could not sing quietly. 
Setting: The great hall of the castle.
Synopsis: Otello questions Desdemona about her relationship to Cassio and, receiving no satisfactory answer, he commands her to leave. After she is gone, Otello asks God why he has afflicted him in this manner.
Translation, and performances of the same aria by Mario Lanza: 


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