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 39: Recently gone, recently returned

Bonaldo Giaiotti                                                                                                            Huguette Tourangeau (right), with Joan Sutherland.

Saturdee Opry Links Overture!

"Barber of Seville," by Rossini. 

NYT Obit, Bonaldo Giaiotti, operatic bass
Except for his soccer team losing a big game, Bonaldo Giaiotti might never have become one of the Metropolitan Opera's most durable basses. To clear the air and boost spirits of teammates after the loss, the 20-year-old Giaiotti began imitating operatic singing. Seems a member of an Italian opera company was on hand, and told the young man he had a higher calling than his then-occupation: furniture design. Giaiotti went on to sing more than 400 performances from 1960 to 1989 with the Met, mainly in Italian operas. He also performed in other major houses, including the Vienna State Opera, the Royal Opera House in London, the Teatro Real in Madrid and the Zurich Opera. He passed away June 12, 2016 at 85. 

Here is the late Bonaldo Giaiotti's noble bass-baritone in Verdi's "Nabucco." In this rousing scene at the the Temple of Solomon in ancient Jerusalem, the Assyrian arm, led by Nabucco (Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon) has defeated the army of the Hebrews and is now poised to enter the city and defeat the Israelites. The Hebrews fear for their lives and pray for deliverance from the coming invasion. Zaccaria, high priest of the Hebrews (Giaiotti) revives their hope by telling them that Nabucco's daughter is their prisoner. He describes how the Lord brought them out of Egypt safely and believes that God will defeat this army with the same power and might. Great scene, great singing. "
Come notte a sol fulgente" ("Like a shiny night.") 

"Here is the world. . .
Upon its huge and rounded back
Dwells an unclean and mad race
Wicked, subtle, proud, vile
Which forever devours itself
. . ."
(Sound familiar?)
Here is another great, rare clip of the late bass, Bonaldo Giaiotti. You'd think after thousands of performances, there would be more. Anyhow, this is one of my favorite denunciations of humanity, "Ecco Il Mondo," from "Mefistofele," by Boito. In Barcelona, 1987. Synopsis: During a series of Satanic rituals on the mountaintop, a group of witches give the devil a glass globe. He sees the world in it and declares his disgust. 
Full Translation:
Ecco il mondo,
Vuoto e tondo,
S’alza, scende,
Balza e splende.
Fa carole intorno al sole,
Trema, rugge, dà e distrugge,
Ora sterile or fecondo.
Ecco il mondo.
Sul suo grosso
Antico dosso
V’è una schiatta
E sozza e matta,
Fiera, vile, ria, sottile,
Che ad ogn’ora si divora
Dalla cima sino al fondo
Del reo mondo.
Fola vana è a lei Satana,
Riso e scherno
E’ a lei l’inferno,
Scherno e riso il Paradiso.
Oh per Dio!
Che or rido anch’io,
Oh per Dio! ecc.
Nel pensare ciò
Che le ascondo.
Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah!
Ecco il mondo!
Here is the world,
Empty and round.
It rises, falls,
Dances, glitters,
Whirls about
Under the sun,
Trembles, roars,
Creates, destroys,
Now barren, now fecund-
Such is the world.
Upon its huge
And rounded back
Dwells an unclean
And mad race,
Wicked, subtle,
Proud, vile,
Which forever
Devours itself,
From the depths to the heights
Of the guilty world.
This proud
And foolish race,
Amid vanities
And orgies,
Laughs, exults,
Merrily, heedlessly,
Wealthy, proud,
And swells up
On the foul globe!
Of the guilty world!


"Calumny is a little breeze,
a gentle zephyr,
which insensibly, subtly,
lightly and sweetly,
commences to whisper.
Softly softly, here and there,
sotto voce, sibilant,
it goes gliding, it goes rambling.
Into the ears of the people,
it penetrates slyly
and the head and the brains
it stuns and it swells
This must be the most poetic denunciation of gossip ever written (although I assume Shakespeare touched on the subject.) From Rossini's "Barber of Seville" (see SOL Overture this a.m.), here is the late, great Bonaldi Giaiotti with "La Calunnia" ("The Calumny.")
Synopsis: Don Basilio, a music teacher, informs Dr. Bartolo that Almaviva is Rosina's new lover. (You had to be there.) He suggests a plan to discredit him by calumny - vicious gossip. Basilio deliciously describes the vast array of gossip that he can drag up and amplify. Kind of an early form of Trumpism.
(Aria starts around 2:19.) 
Full Translation: 

Another aria about gossip:

Mezzo-soprano Huguette Tourangeau passed away a couple of months ago at age 80. She debuted as Mercedes in "Carmen" in 1964, under the baton of young Zubin Mehta, in Montreal (where she spent most of her life.) In 1967, conductor Richard Bonynge engaged her to sing Mallika in Seattle Opera's production of Delibes' "Lakme," and thus began a long professional association with Boynynge and his wife, the great soprano, Joan Sutherland. Here Ms. Tourangeau sings the exquisitely lovely "Flower Duet" from "Lakme"---with Sutherland, in 1976. "Dôme épais, le jasmin," or "Dome Made of Jasmine." 
Lakmé (daughter of Nilakantha, a divine priestess) and Mallika (Lakmé's slave) sing of the beauty of their surroundings while preparing to bathe in the stream that runs through the section of secluded garden surrounding them.

Huguette Tourangeau Obit: 

Here is a rare recording of the dark, creamy mezzo of Huguette Tourangeau (accompanied in recital by Richard Bonynge), here with the rhapsodic aria, "Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix," ("My Heart Opens to Your Voice") from "Samson et Delilah," by Saint-Saens. Tourangeau retired from the stage at just 40, but made several recordings over the following few years and taught privately in her native Montréal from the mid-1980s onward.
Synopsis: Dalila, Philistine priestess of Dagon, tells Samson seductively that she will surrender herself entirely to him if he wants her. She begs him to respond to her caresses, hoping that he will finally forget about the Israelite rebellion he is leading against the Philistines. If Samson concentrates completely on her, the High Priest of Dagon may be able to capture him. 

You're a tenor, right? So this means you always "blow the roof off the dump," right? That your voice seeks to devour all the air space in an opera house. Nope. You've never heard of Michel Senechal, probably, who passed away a couple of months ago at 91. He was a journeyman, a light French tenor who excelled in what are termed "character roles." His long career centered on Mozart and Rossini and light roles in "Eugene Onegin" and "Andrea Chenier" and other later operas. He was with the Met for 17 seasons and 175 performances. Just an operatic working stiff tenor. Here, he sings "Anges du Paradis," from Mireille, by Gounod. "Angels of Paradise." 
My heart is filled with black forebodings!
Who detains her? Why is she not here?
Angels of Paradise, cover her with your wings!
Up in heaven, spread your cloak above her!
And you, fiery summer sun,
Have mercy on her youth, spare her beauty!
I saw her in my dream
On the heath where a fiery breath blows,
Running alone towards the beach,
Pale, her brow bent under the glare of the blue sky,
Invoking the Holy Women and God!
Angels of Paradise, etc.

About Senechal: 

Back to the living. . .Anja Harteros has returned after a long absence, during which she cared for her ailing husband. Harteros, says Opera News, "has a way of slipping into a role that makes it difficult to imagine anyone else singing it better. When she sings Elsa in 'Lohengrin' and Elisabeth in 'Tannhauser,' her voice seems to melt into the music. . ." Gasp. Such hyperbole! And yet. . .Here is "Elsa's Dream" ("Einsam in trüben Tagen") from "Lohengrin." (Aria begins at 3:38.) 
Elsa of Brabant relates a dream she had where a Knight in white was sent to her by God to defend her.

Einsam in trüben Tagen
hab ich zu Gott gefleht,
des Herzens tiefstes Klagen
ergoss ich im Gebet. -
Da drang aus meinem Stöhnen
ein Laut so klagevoll,
der zu gewalt'gem Tönen
weit in die Lüfte schwoll: -
Ich hört ihn fernhin hallen,
bis kaum mein Ohr er traf;
mein Aug ist zugefallen,
ich sank in süssen Schlaf.

Lonely, in troubled days
I prayed to the Lord,
my most heartfelt grief
I poured out in prayer.
And from my groans
there issued a plaintive sound
that grew into a mighteous roar
as it echoed through the skies:
I listened as it receded into the distance
until my ear could scarce hear it;
my eyes closed
and I fell into a deep sleep.

About Harteros: 
What Kept Harteros from singing? 

More of the wonderful soprano, Anja Harteros, who now seems to be returning to her career at 44. "Vissi d'arte," or "I lived for art," dedicated to the memory of those artists honored in this morning's opera links. From Puccini's "Tosca."
In this scene, Tosca agonizes over having suffered so much in life, having just been blackmailed into a sexual tryst with the evil Harvey Weinstein, I mean Scarpia. 

Harteros here sings "Tacea la notte placida," from "Il Trovatore," by Verdi, about as beguiling, even bewitching, an aria as has been written. "The night was still and quiet." 
Synopsis: Leonora, a lady-in-waiting for the Princess of Aragon, 1409, reveals to her servant, Ines, that she heard someone serenading her in the garden.

Harteros is not likely to make one forget this, as I'm sure she would agree. . . 

Greatest tenor and soprano in the world today? Such questions are ridiculous, of course, but. . .Harteros and Kaufmann would be in the running. Here is the glorious duet, "Ora soave, sublime ora d'amore," from "Andrea Chenier," by Umberto Giordano. I think you can glean from the Italian what the gist of the aria is about. (Kaufmann's first note here is astounding.) 
Maddalena, dressed in a hooded cloak, enters hesitantly and asks if he is Chénier. He replies yes as she reminds him of their first meeting. She tells him she has always admired him from a distance. She says she is all alone, frightened, and asks him to protect her. In an ardent duet, they declare their love for each other and swear to remain together until death (Ora soave, sublime ora d'amore!).
When I am near you, calm overtakes my rebellious spirit.
You are the object of my every desire, of every dream, of every poem.
Within your glance I see the radiance of infinite expanses.
I look at you. In the green waves of your large eyes, I roam with my soul!

I am here so that I may never leave you. This is not a farewell!
I have come to die with you! The suffering has ended.
I seek death, loving you!
Ah, the one who received the last words from my lips is he. . .Love!

Full duet translation: 

Saturdee Opry Links (Wonderful) Encore!
Powerhouse quartet! Jonas Kaufmann, Anja Harteros, Bryn Terfel und Ekaterina Gubanova ham it up with "Dein ist Mein Ganzes Herz," by Franz Lehar. "Yours is My Heart Alone," from the operetta, "The Land of Smiles." You remember the Land of Smiles, don't you? Used to be, one could visit it regularly. 

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