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 68: All-Hits, All-the-Time 3

                             Anna Caterina Antonacci as "Carmen"

Saturdee Opry Links Overture!
Donizetti: "Daughter of the Regiment"  

It's all hits, all the time! (Just to entice first-timers in order to spring the real stuff on 'em later.) Here is the, gawd he'p me, "Flower Duet" from "Lakme," by Leo Delibes. Yes, it is still gorgeous, despite having been played to death by classical radio. A classic performance by Joan Sutherland and Hugette Turangeau. Sydney Opera, 1976. "Dôme épais, le jasmin" ("Dome made of jasmine.") 
Synopsis : After Lakmé's father leaves them, Lakmé and Mallika sing of the beauty of their surroundings while preparing to bathe in the stream that runs through the section of secluded garden surrounding them.

"Tosca" is a powerful Puccini love story, with sinister plot turns involving sexual extortion and torture. But in this scene, early in the opera, Cavaradossi the artist is happily painting a Madonna for a church, while all the while thinking of his beloved Floria Tosca---and comparing the two. This is "Recondita Armonia" ("Hidden harmony.") With a young Franco Corelli from a filmed version of the opera. 
Synopsis: Cavaradossi is painting a Madonna for the church and he has based the painting on a woman who prays often at the church. He sings of the differences between his picture of a fair Madonna and the darker beauty of his love, Tosca.

I wonder how opera houses even get away with "Rigoletto," by Verdi, these days, given political correctness. "Women are Fickle?" Can one even, in cavalier fashion, make such a statement anymore? Perhaps audiences will need "safe spaces" in which to hide when this aria is sung. Anyhow, here is "La Donne e Mobile," with, just for fun, The Three Tenors. 
Setting: The inn of Sparafucile
Synopsis: The Duke of Mantua, disguised as a soldier, sings that all women are fickle and that they will betray anyone who falls in love with them.

There are more moving arias, though it's really a matter of splitting hairs. It is pretty safe to say, though, that no one ever sung this more movingly than Maria Callas. This is "Ebben no andro Lontana," ("I will go far away") from "La Wally" by the lesser known operatic composer, Alfredo Catalani. A young woman despairs of her would-be arranged marriage. 
Role: Wally (Wuh-LEE) a young woman, daughter of Stromminger
Setting: The main square of Hochstoff, Switzerland, 19th century
Synopsis: Wally is in love with Hagenbach. However, her father does not like Hagenbach and wants her to marry his own friend Gellner. He gives her an ultimatum : marry Gellner or leave the house. When faced with the decision, Wally decides that she must leave. She despairs that she will never see her house again but she knows that she must be firm.

Poor Canio, deranged with jealousy that was never warranted. (You know, unlike Trump, who is just deranged with jealousy, or just deranged.) "Vesti la Giubba"---"put on the costume"---the show must go on. The tenor is Luciano Pavarotti. Never fails to amaze that this man could not read a note of music.
Setting: The entrance to a village, Calabria, Italy, 1860s
Synopsis: Canio 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.

Humility? What is this term, you ask? You are unfamiliar with the concept? Yes, you and countless millions in this, the 21st century. Well, here is a little introduction. In this enchanting aria, "Io son l'umile ancella," from " Adriana Lecouvreur, by Cilea, Adriana Lecouvreur, the star of the Comédie-Française, sings that she is only a vessel through which the muses work. Here is Anna Netrebko in concert. 
Setting: backstage at the Comédie-Française, Paris, 1730
Synopsis: 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.

Anna Netrebko

And now our token baritone aria in this All-Hits-All-The-Time edition of SOL. Here is the gloriously melodic, poignant "Di Provenza," from "La Traviata," by Verdi. In which a father pleads with his son to remember his roots and return home, instead of running off with the courtesan, Violeta. The baritone is the great, great Dmitri Hvorostovksy. 
Role : Giorgio Germont, Alfredo's father
Synopsis : Alfredo's father has convinced Violetta that it is better for everyone if she leaves Alfredo. She begs him to love her and then sneaks out of the house. Later, a servant brings him her farewell letter and he rushes off to find her. Giorgio stops him though and sings this aria to remind him of their home in Provence and to ask him to return with him.

Here is the duet of all duets, probably, certainly the hit duet of all hit duets, "O Soave Fanciulla," from Puccini's monument, "La Boheme." The two most popular singers in the world today, Jonas Kaufmann and Anna Netrebko.
Synopsis: It is Christmas Eve, and a poor, nearly starving poet has by chance met his neighbor, a wan, shy seamstress. They introduce themselves, and, in the magic of opera, quickly declare their mutual love. Life, after all, is short. Rodolfo and Mimi sing "O Soave Fanciulla," or "O Beautiful Girl in Moonlight." Amor, amor, amor. 

From "Carmen," here is the---no, not the "Habanera." So many bewitching melodies in "Carmen," but none more than this one. The "Seguidilla," "Près des ramparts de Séville" ("Near the Ramparts of Seville.") With marvelous mezzo-soprano Anna Catarina Antonacci, who almost never performs in this country, alas. 
Role: Carmen, a gypsy
Setting: A square in Seville
Synopsis: After Carmen is arrested for fighting another girl in the cigarette factory, Don Jose is assigned to watch her. She sings that she wants to go to her friend Lillias Pastia's inn and insinuates that she would like him to go with her.

FINAL BOW: To go out with a bang, here are Rolando Villazon, Placido Domingo, and Anna Netrebko boozing it up on stage with the Brindisi, aka "Libiamo, libiamo ne’lieti calici" ("Let us drink from goblets of joy") from Verdi's "La Traviata." 
Setting: A late-night party at the house of Violetta Valery
Synopsis: Alfredo is convinced by Gastone and Violetta to show off his voice. He sings (as this title suggests) a drinking song, and Violetta joins in.

And here is the true story of "The lady of the camelias," on which the opera is based: 

Note: This winning trio follows up "Libiamo" with a slam-bang, downright wonderful rendition of "Dein ist Mein Ganzes Herz" from the 1929 operetta, "The Land of Smiles," by Franz Lehar.

Saturdee Opry Links Encore!
Here, again, are The Three Tenors. What a wonderful thing is a sunny day! 

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