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 36: Drinking Edition!

Juan Diego Florez, Diana Damrau, and the Metropolitan Opera Chorus

Saturdee Opry Links Overture!

"The Abduction from the Seraglio," by Mozart. 

There is a reason this is an operatic cliche: it's brilliant. This is the "Largo al factotum della citta," from Rossini's "Barber o Seville." "Make way for the topman of the city!" Figaro, a Sevillian barber appears outside Dr. Bartolo's house at daybreak, singing of the many talents that make him a good doctor, barber, matchmaker, etc. Did he drink? Probably.
With English subtitles, this is from a Met production with baritone Peter Mattei. 

Also: Tom and Jerry 

Also: Louis Prima: 

As Jimmy Lennon used to day, "All right, boxing fans. . ." in searching for a theme for today's opry links, I think I've hit on something. In my senility, I've probably done it before, but in your senility, you won't remember, anyhow. And I need something upbeat to drown out the damn tile saw screaming outside. So here is item number one. See if you can guess the theme!  The soprano is Violette Polchi.  From Offenbach's comic opera, "La Perichole," here is "Ah! quel diner je viens de faire."
Ah! quel diner je viens de faire!
Et quel vin extraordinaire!
J'en ai tant mangé... mais tant et tant,
Que je crois bien que maintenant
Je suis un peu grise...
Mais chut!
Faut pas qu'on le dise!

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!

Ah! what a diner I just did!
And what an extraordinary wine!
I have eaten so much ... but so much
That I believe that now
I am a little gray ...
Do not be told!

If my word is a little vague,
If while walking I zigzag,
And if my eye is scratchy,
Do not be surprised, because ...
I am a little gray ...
Do not be told!

How it can look on stage: 

Were Lerner and Lowe inspired to write "The Night They Invented Champagne" by this? Here is the wacky, whimsical "Champagne Song" from "Die Fledermaus," by Strauss. "Im Feuerstrom der Reben." ("In the fire stream of the vines.") Hic. 

What do you do with a drunken sailor, I mean, tenor? Let him sing! From Mascagni's "Cavalleria Rusticana," here is "Here's to the frothing wine!" Or "Viva il vino spumeggiante." With the great Franco Corelli.
Synopsis: Turiddu, a soldier, the son of Lucia sings a drinking song---on Easter Sunday, in the main square of a Sicilian village, Italy, late 1800s. 

This would be the stupendous baritone, Leo Nucci (who is still singing, as of this writing, at 76!) with a terrific Verdi booze paean, "Inaffia l'ugola! Trinca, tracanna." Or "Come, wet your whistle!" Of course, this invitation comes from Iago, so I’d think twice about it. 
Translation: (search for "Inaffia"): 
Iago proposes a toast to Otello and his wife, while Cassio praises Desdemona (Iago, Cassio, Chorus, Roderigo: Roderigo, beviam! / "Roderigo, let's drink!"). Iago offers Cassio more wine, but Cassio says he has had enough. Iago pressures him and offers a toast to Otello and Desdemona. Cassio gives in. Iago sings a drinking song and continues to pour Cassio wine (Iago, Cassio, Roderigo, chorus: Inaffia l'ugola! / "Wet your throat").

But back to champagne. Here is a quick toast to women, courtesy of Don Giovanni in Mozart's opera of the same name. "Till they get some wine in them" is the sentiment expressed here. Not to worry, ladies, the Don is eventually dragged to hell by a statue-come-to-life. Much as the Don in D.C. will eventually be dragged to hell by the statue of Abraham Lincoln inside the Lincoln Memorial. Bryn Terfel. 
Synopsis: As Don Giovanni arrives at his palace with the peasants awaiting the wedding party of Masetto and Zerlina inside, he declares that there shall be an incredible party with much wine and many women.

You might know the polka hit, "In Heaven, There is No Beer" (thank you, Dr. Demento.) But you might not know the equivalent from Smetana's "The Bartered Bride," which translates to "It's beer, it certainly is a gift from heaven." ("To pivečko, to věru je nebeský dar.") There is actually a bit of a debate going on in this scene. The assertion that beer is a gift from heaven is countered by someone who insists that love is superior. Eventually someone adds that money tops both. Perhaps they anticipated 21st century America.
Translation: (scroll way down) 
Synopsis: The men of the village join in a rousing drinking song ("To beer!"), while Jeník and Kecal argue the merits, respectively, of love and money over beer. The women enter, and the whole group joins in dancing a furiant. Away from the jollity the nervous Vašek muses over his forthcoming marriage in a stuttering song ("My-my-my mother said to me"). Mařenka appears, and guesses immediately who he is, but does not reveal her own identity. Pretending to be someone else, she paints a picture of "Mařenka" as a treacherous deceiver. Vašek is easily fooled, and when Mařenka, in her false guise, pretends to woo him ("I know of a maiden fair"), he falls for her charms and swears to give Mařenka up.

National Theatre Prague, 1981. Jeník: Peter Dvorský Marenka: Gabriela Beňačková Kecal: Richard Novák Krušina: Jindřich Jindrák Háta: Marie Mrázová Mícha: Jaroslav Horáček Ludmila: Marie Veselá Vašek: Miroslav Kopp Esmeralda: Jana Jonášová Pricipál: Alfréd Hampel Indián: Karel Hanuš.

"In Heaven There is No Beer" (Polka!) 

And yet more bellowing praise for demon rum in "Martha," by Flotow," as sung by the German bass, Josef Greindl. Wait---Greindl's bio shows that he was a Nazi. Gad. never mind. Okay, here is the duly vaunted Alexander Kipnis instead. Ukrainian-born U.S. citizen. If you are noticing that these various drinking songs are similarly carousing, rousing, rollicking, you are a very incisive opera appraiser! "Lasst mich euch fragen" (Porterlied). 
About Alexander Kipnis: 
Say, if you can, sir,
Give me the answer.
Why are the fighting men
Of England
All so brave and strong?
That is because their drink is ale.
Englishmen drink it by the pail
When they are fighting England's fight
Both near and far, by day or night. Ha!
An English lad who is worth his salt
Is weaned on English hops and malt!
Hurrah for hops, hurrah for malt
For they are life's spice and salt!
Hurrah! Tralala!


While we are drinking,
Maybe you're thinking
What is the power that helps us
Hold a note so loud and long?
That is because our drink is ale,
That's why our voices never fail,
And that is the reason
Why the season never stops
For malt and hops.
Ha! Away with wine and foreign slops,
Give me my English malt and hops!
Hurrah for hops, hurrah for malt
For they are life's spice and salt!
Hurrah! Tralala!

Hurrah, hurrah for ale!

And here is how it sounds, sung in English: 

There is a reason this is a cliche: it's brilliant. (Didn’t someone already say this today?) And you thought this aria was about bullfighting, didn't you? So did I. Well, it is, but it starts out with a toast. Here is our penultimate operatic drinking song, or quasi-drinking song, "Votre toast je peux vous le rendre (Toreador Song) ," from "Carmen," by Bizet. Mighty Samuel Ramey is the baritone."Toreadore, don't spit on the floor-e, use a cuspidor-e, that's what it's for-e." 
Translation, setting: 

Of course, "Libiamo," the brindisi (drinking song) from Verdi's "La Traviata." Roberto Alagna and Tiziana Fabbricini (I chose this one merely for the soprano's name.)
Sing along! 

Or, if that isn't festive enough for you. . .

Saturdee Opry Links Drinking Song Encore!
"Lay me to snooze in the mud and the ooze. . .with plenty of booze to warm me. . ."
From Rudof Friml's "The Vagabond King." Sung here by Mario Lanza, in his later, darker voice. 


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