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 53: Blow the Roof Off The Dump Edition

 Gloria Davy, first African-American to sing "Aida" at the Met.                        Forgotten tenor Gino Penno                                            Klaus Florian Vogt

Saturdee Opry Links Overture!
"Die Feen" ("The Fairies") by Wagner. 

Blow the roof off the dump, why don't you? Here is Javier Camarena (up and coming lyric tenor) with all nine high C's from "A Mes Amis," aria from "The Daughter of the Regiment," by Donizetti. "Ah, my friends!" 
Tonio, a Tyrolese peasant in love with Marie in 1815, has been made a member of the French Grenadiers. He approaches some of the members and explains that he has joined the regiment only because he loves the regiment's "daughter" Marie.Tonio sings his joy at finally being united with his one love. He promises to take care of her and protect her forever.

The greatest Wagnerian tenor you have never heard of: Klaus Florian Vogt. He started out as a French horn player in the Hamburg Philharmonic until someone pointed out that he could sing rather well. He's not a heldentenor (heroic tenor), as he possesses a brightness of tone---where many heldentenors have a dark, burnished quality. Opera News described his voice as "arresting, giving the note an intensity and concentration that immediately encapsulates his character." So this proves you don't have to be helden to sing heroically, I guess. . .Here he is with the surpassingly beautiful "Allmächt'ger Vater" ("Rienzi's Prayer") from Wagner's (pre-megalomaniacal) early opera, "Rienzi." Based on an early ancestor of mine. By the way, Vogt says he hopes to become the first modern "Siegfried" to play the role and the French horn in the eponymous opera. 
Cola Rienzi, Roman tribune, has been excommunicated for leading a force of Roman citizens against the treacherous Roman nobles, prompting everyone to abandon their support of him. On the brink of disaster, Rienzi prays to God that he might be given strength to weather the crisis. He feels that he is doing God's work by empowering the common citizen.

Today's quickie grab-bag edition of Saturdee Opry Links shifts to the recently departed Dmitri Hvorostovksy with some Russian folk brooding---that is somehow inspiring, uplifting. This is "Kak molodiy my byli" ("How Young We Were") from a concert in 2003. With Anglais subtitles. He loved these songs deeply, and it comes across. 

Blow the roof off the dump again, why don't you? Here is the forgotten tenor, Gino Penno, in one of the glory moments of his life: on stage at La Scala in 1953. Not the greatest tenor ever, or the second-greatest, or third, but rising to the occasion with gusto and aplomb. His pitch might not be spot-on, but judging by the crowd reaction, he did enough things right. He would be gone from opera stages in just a few yeas.This is "Di Quella Pira" from "Il Trovatore" by Verdi. "These terrible flames. . ."
Summary: Manrico, an officer in Prince Urgel's army and the supposed son of the gypsy woman Azucena (got that?), is in a room adjoining the chapel at Castellor, 1409. He has discovered that his mother Azucena has been captured by the Count of Luna and is about to be burned at the stake. Furious, Manrico calls together his soldiers and sings valiantly of how they will save Azucena from death. 
Short but brilliant career, says Wiki: 

Here is a Saturdee Opry Links favorita. . .Luciano and Placido on stage in 1991, singing the ever-tender duet from Puccini's "La Boheme," "O Mimi tu piu non torni" ("O Mimi, you won't return.") What it might lack in nuance it makes up for in. . .Luciano and Placido. 

Live on stage in his only filmed concert performance, here is Mario Lanza, late in his short life, singing "E Lucevan le Stelle" ("And the stars were shining") from Puccini's "Tosca." Note: he was suffering from very painful phlebitis in both legs, but the nervous shifting from side to side that marked this (London Palladium) appearance all but disappeared when he sang this aria. Such was his all-consuming focus. 
Mario Cavaradossi, Tosca's lover, a young painter and a political liberal, trades his last possession, a ring, to get a guard to take a letter to the imprisoned Tosca. As he writes the letter, he sings of his love for Tosca and for life.

Born in Brooklyn, soprano Gloria Davy was the daughter of immigrants from the island of Saint Vincent in the Windward Islands---presumably a place that our fake president would not favor. Ms. Davy's father was a token clerk in the New York City subway system, yet somehow helped to put her through Julliard, where she earned a degree in vocal performance in 1953. She was the first African-American to sing "Aida" on stage at the Metropolitan Opera, and had a distinguished singing and recording career (though today is largely eclipsed by Leontyne Pryce, as damn near anyone would be.) Here she is with "Tacea la Notte Placida," from Verdi's "Il Trovatore" ("The Troubadour.") This aria is marked by a repeated welling, rising passage that is characteristic Verdi melody. "The night was still and quiet. . ." 
Leonora, a lady-in-waiting for the Princess of Aragon in 1409,
reveals to her servant, Ines, that she heard someone serenading her in the garden. Yet when she goes out to see who the troubadour is, she finds that it is, in fact, a knight in black armor who she had once crowned as the champion of a tournament. She quickly fell in love with him.

Blow the roof off the dump, why don't you, part 3. Here is the great mezzo of our time, Elina Garanca (El-een-ya Gar-AN-sha) of Latvia (another place our fake president probably does not approve of), with the tour-de-force, "O Don Fatale," from Verdi's "Don Carlo." Fireworks aside, this aria has strange, dark, bittersweet downturns of melodiousness that are deeply moving. Entirely right for an aria of guilt, self-loathing, and nobility. Hang on to your hats, boys and girls.
Princess Eboli, lady in waiting to the Queen of Spain in 1559, has betrayed her Queen and friend Elizabeth because her advances to Carlos have been rejected. In retaliation, Elizabeth gives her the choice of being exiled or becoming a nun. After she leaves, Eboli curses the gift of beauty that she has been given, saying that it has been the cause of all her problems! She swears to save Carlo from the imprisonment that has resulted from her betrayal. 

You hear a little Elina Garanca, and you want to hear more. Don't you? Here is the beguiling mezzo with the beguiling aria, "Io son l´Umile Nncella" ("I'm but the humble servant.") From the opera, "Adriana Lecouvreur," by Francesco Cilea. There is something almost ethereal about this inspired melody, something almost threatens to fly away and leave all harmonic logic behind, before the composer, Cilea, brings it back to earth. Such a wonderful idea expressed here---one completely at odds with most of the narcissistic sensibilities of our "icon"-saturated time---that an artist is only a vessel through which the muses work. 
Adriana Lecouvreur is the star of the Comédie-Française
Paris, 1730. The Prince de Boullion and the Abbe de Chazeuil meet the company at the Comédie-Française before the show. Although the Prince is the patron of Adriana's main competition as an actress, Duclos, he compliments Adriana. She replies to the compliments by saying that she is only the vessel through which the muses work.

Marilyn Tyler died Dec. 21 at age 91. Ms. Tyler had a highly successful concert career with the best orchestras and conductors of the world, spanning 25 years, though she is probably little remembered today. From her obituary:
"In the 1970s, Tyler served as director for the newly-established Iran Opera in Tehran, created by Empress Farah Diba. With the Iranian Revolution in 1979, which resulted in the downfall of the royal family, Tyler spent the next nine months in Iran before she was able to escape into Pakistan, where she would find employment with the U.S. Information Service’s Pakistan-American Cultural Center. Following an attack on the U.S. Embassy two years later, Tyler returned to the U.S., where she would teach at the University of New Mexico from 1983 until her retirement in 2011."
Here is Ms. Tyler and her hearty, expressive voice, with Gershwin's "Summertime" from "Porgy and Bess." Accompanying herself at the piano in a performance for Dutch television in 1962.

Saturdee Opry Links Encore!
"Besame Mucho." The Beatles. Paul McCartney, tenor, accompanies himself on keyboard and marijuana.

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