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 37: Hot and Cool Edition

 A. H. "Bud" Rotman                                                          Jussi Bjorling                                             Franco Corelli

Saturdee Opry Links Overture!
"Marriage of Figaro," by Mozart. 

Today's sweatbox edition of Saturdee Opry Links continues with our "hot and cool" selections---hot tenor arias and cool sopranos. . .

"Let me weep." An apt sentiment for those without air conditioning. Joyce DiDonato with the gorgeous Handel aria from "Rinaldo." Period instruments.
Setting: a garden in Argante's palace, Jerusalem, Palestine, during the Crusades
Synopsis: Almirena has been abducted by the sorceress Armida and imprisoned in the palace. She laments her fate. 
About the aria, translation: 

A tremendous piece of singing is this lament from Cilea's "Adriana Lecouvreur," this is  "L'anima ho stanca" ("My soul is tired"), making its Saturdee Opry Links debut with Franco Corelli, live on stage in 1959.
Setting: a salon in the house of the actress Duclos, Paris, 1730
Synopsis: Maurizio Maurizio, the Count of Saxony, has met with the Princesse de Bouillon for a secret tryst. When she asks him what the violets he has brought are for, he replies that he brought them for her. In truth, however, they were given to Maurizio by Adriana as a show of her love for him. 
Rough translation:
L'anima ho stanca, e la meta è lontana :
non aggiungete la rampogna vana
all'ansia che m'accora.
Assai vi debbo; ah!
ma se amor cadrà memore affetto in core,
in cor mi fiorirà!

My soul is tired, and the goal is far:
do not add vain rampant
to anxiety that annoys me.
I owe you so much; ah!
but if love will fall fond memory,
in heart I will flourish!

Another baroque aria for a beastly day. . .Every time I hear a counter-tenor, I think of Jonathan Winters in "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World," refusing to ride a bicycle because "That's a girls' bike!" In the old days, those nice church people used to wack the nuts off of boys so they would ride a bike, I mean sing like girls. Today it is a cultivated voice, and is increasingly prevalent. I figure it's due to PCB pollution mimicking hormones. Anyhow, here is a man with a beautiful woman's voice, the counter-tenor Andreas Scholl, with what is perhaps the most moving aria in the baroque repertory, "Ombra Mai Fu," from Handel's "Xerxes." This is, as many of you know, an ode to a tree. How desperately this species needs to embrace and understand the spirit of this piece. And how desperately many of us could use a little of this today:
"Never was a shade
of any plant
dearer and more lovely,
or more sweet
About the aria, translation: 

On the opposite end of the singing spectrum from Andreas Scholl, perhaps, is, again, the decidedly testicular voice of Franco Corelli. Here is more thrilling Corelli from "Adriana Lecouvreur," by Cilea, the love aria, "La dolcissima effige." Live at the Met in 1963, making SOL debut. (Tremendous note at the 1:30 mark.)
Setting: backstage at the Comédie-Française, Paris, 1730
Synopsis: Before the show, the lovers Adriana and Maurizio meet and Maurizio reconfirms his undying love for Adriana. 

Two years before Mozart's first successful operatic masterpiece "Abduction from the Seraglio," he began to write "Zaide," a German "rescue" opera that deviated from the norm of a male hero rescuing his lady in distress, and instead told the story of a heroine, Zaide, who rescues her lover, Gomatz. And you thought feminism was new. . .Mozart never finished "Zaide", and the music was not performed until long after he died. Here is the lovely aria, "Ruhe Sanft" ("Sleep Safely"), from the opera that wasn't quite. Sung here by the tremendous Mozart soprano, the late Lucia Popp. 
Ruhe sanft, mein holdes Leben,
schlafe, bis dein Glück erwacht!
da, mein Bild will ich dir geben,
schau, wie freundlich es dir lacht:
Ihr süßen Träume, wiegt ihn ein,
und lasset seinem Wunsch am Ende
die wollustreichen Gegenstände
zu reifer Wirklichkeit gedeihn.

Rest peacefully, sweet love of my life,
Sleep ’till you re-awake in happiness!
Here, I give you a picture of me,
See how lovingly it smiles at you;
Oh, let those sweet dreams cradle him,
And finally let
All sensual things he desires
Come to rich fruition.

Today's sweatbox edition of Saturdee Opry Links continues with our "hot and cool" selections---hot tenor arias and cool sopranos. Here again is the mighty Corelli, this time with Donizetti's "Ange si pur" ("spirito gentil") from "La Favorite." May it gentle your heat-prostrated spirit.
Setting: the monastery of St James of Compostella, Castile, Spain, circa 1340
Synopsis: Not knowing that Léonore is the "favorite" of King Alphonse, the young novice, Fernand, asks the king for her hand in marriage---and receives it because he has led Castile to victory in battle over the Moors. Thinking that his bride is pure, he prepares to marry her. However, before she appears, he finds out that she has been the lover of the King. With his heart broken, he returns to the monastery and mourns for the betrayal of his love and the loss of Léonore. 

"Come, do not delay, bliss." Now that's a prayer I can get behind. In this case, I'd settle for the bliss of a mere 80 degrees. Ah, but I vulgarly digress. Here is another little drink of Mozart for you, something to cool the fevered brow. "Deh vieni non tardar" from his comic opera, "The Marriage of Figaro," so beautifully sung by Alison Hagley. 
Setting: The garden of Count Almaviva
Synopsis: In order to tease Figaro, who thinks Susanna is cheating on him with the Count, Susanna---maid to the Countess of Almaviva, fiancee of Figaro---urges the Count to come quickly to her.

Here is a rather legendary performance by Corelli, from 1967, which features a spectacular diminuendo---gradual reduction of volume in a single note. (It comes at the end.) Right, great tenors also sing softly. Here is "Ah, leve toi, soleil," from "Romeo and Juliet," by Gounod. (The guy you hear speaking from time to time, is the too-loud on-stage prompter, by the way.) Aria begins around 2:45, with the precede, "L'amour, l'amour." English subtitles. Corelli sings with such totality of being that you'd never guess he had chronic stagefright.
Synopsis: Romeo has escaped from his companions in search of Juliet's room. He finally spies her on her balcony and sings of her beauty which is like the sun. The words are almost exactly translated from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. 

Daniela Dessi holds forth with the masterpiece of an aria (as all Mozart's were, really), "Come Scoglio," from "Cosi fan Tutte."
Setting: the living room of Dorabella and Fiordiligi's house
Synopsis: Two mysterious Albanians (aren't they all!) that are really Guglielmo and Ferrando in disguise have shown up at the sisters' door accompanied by Don Alfonso. The two men attempt to woo the sisters. Fiordiligi will have nothing to do with it, though, and, in this difficult aria, declares her loyalty to Guglielmo and asks the strangers to stop attempting to win them. 

EXTRA: Remembering beautiful Daniela Dessi, who passed away two years ago: 

Decided to go out with something "light and bright," but not too bright, given the temperature outside. If I call Patricia Janeckova a "doll," I am to be forgiven such apparent crass, demeaning sexism! Why? Because she is a doll, at least here, with the doll song from "The Tales of Hoffmann," by Offenbach. 
Setting: The parlor room of Spalanzani the scientist, 19th century
Synopsis: Spalanzani the inventor winds up Olympia the doll to sing for his guests. She sings this song about the birds and how they sing of the young girl of love.

Saturdee Opry Links ENCORE!
Very often, "O Sole Mio" is the encore here, with its grand opening line, "What a wonderful thing is a sunny day." But today is not so grand, owing to the punishing heat. What's more, the sun had a lot of goddamn nerve coming up at all today, given that a great man passed away in the night. He was one of those "great teachers" that you always hear about, laboring away heroically, in obscurity. He taught for over 40 years---English, Shakespeare, Journalism---at Venice High School in L.A., and yes, he brought tremendous, undying dedication and originality to his work. Equally important, if not more, he went out of his way to make students feel of value, to stimulate their thinking, and to encourage. I am reminded of a friend I met a few years ago who had to drop out due to pregnancy, and finished her high school diploma at Venice High adult night school---where this man was her English teacher. She was embarrassed, ashamed, depressed, distressed, and it was this teacher who revived her spirit---treating her like a human being of substance. He did the same for countless others, including a transfer student who was profoundly depressed and lost, shunned at home and essentially hiding from the world. I owe him more than I can say for supporting that kid and championing his writing---and introducing him to the voice of Jussi Bjorling. This little gesture is in loving memory of Mr. A.H. "Bud" Rotman, who loved the vital, titanic, life-embodying singing of Jussi, and all good things. Here is Bjorling, live in 1944, in an astonishing, un-toppable rendition of "Nessun Dorma." So long, Bud. 
Summary and Translation: 


Back to Opera Links

Back to Home Page