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


The Bjorling Brothers!
Olle (1909-1965), Jussi (1911-1960) and Gösta (1912-1957).        And one of the last time they sang together, 1952.

Saturdee Opry Links Overture!
"Das Liebesverbot," by Rossini, I mean, Wagner. (Sure sounds like Rossini!) 

Saturdee Opry Links starts with some summer joy, in the form of "Summer Joy," a beloved Swedish tune sung by three young lads by the names of Olle, Gosta, and Jussi. Bjorling was the family name. Listen for them giggling at the end. And by the way, that boy soprano has a hell of a future. 

Modern tenor singing began under Rossini. This was the first time that tenors belted out high C's heroically, instead of resorting to falsetto. Here is one such example from Rossini's "William Tell." Bryan Hymel sings the heart-rending, "Asile héréditaire" ("Ancestral Home.") 
Role: Arnold, a Swiss patriot, son of Melcthal
Setting: the ruined house of Melcthal, Altdorf, Switzerland, thirteenth century
Synopsis: Arnold looks upon the ruined house in which he grew up and remembers his father, who was killed by the Austrians.
"Ancestral home
where my eyes opened to the light of day,
only yesterday your protective shelter
offered a father to my love.
I call in vain, o bitter grief!
I call in vain, o bitter grief!
I call, he no longer hears my voice!
I call, he no longer hears my voice!
Beloved walls within which my father dwelt,
I come to see you for the last time!
I come to see you, etc.
Ancestral home
where my eyes opened to the light of day,
beloved walls within which my father dwelt,
I come to see you for the last time!
I come to see you, etc.
Full scene translation: 


Today's SOL continues with a song I'd forgotten about, which is entirely the reason for posting it here: the almost impossibly beautiful "Baïlèro," one of the "Songs of the Auvergne," folk songs arranged by Joseph Canteloube. Anna Catarina Antonacci is the mezzo. English subtitles. And might I add, what GRUESOME lyrics for such a hauntingly beautiful song. . . 
From Wiki:
"Chants d'Auvergne" is a collection of folk songs from the Auvergne region of France arranged for soprano voice and orchestra or piano by Joseph Canteloube between 1923 and 1930. The songs are in the local language, Occitan. The best known of the songs is the "Baïlèro", which has been frequently recorded and performed in slight variations of Canteloube's arrangement, such as for choir or instrumental instead of the original soprano solo.

Here is the transporting, ethereally beautiful love duet, "Nuit D'ivresse," ("Night of Ecstasy"), from "Les Troyens," (1856) by Hector Berlioz, based on Virgil's Aeneid. Wonderful Shirley Verrett and Nicolai Gedda. 
Full translation here: 

Endlessly intoxicating night of ecstasy!
Golden Phoebe, and you, great stars of her court,
Shine upon us your blessed light;
Heavenly flowers, smile upon eternal love!

On such a night, crowned with golden laburnum,
Your mother Venus followed the fair Anchises
To the groves of Mount Ida.

On such a night, headlong in joyous love,
Troilus came to the foot of Troy’s walls
To await the lovely Cressida.

Endlessly intoxicating night of ecstasy!
Golden Phoebe, etc.

On such a night, chaste Diana
Finally shed her diaphanous veil,
In the sight of Endymion.

On such a night the son of Cythera
Received coldly the rapturous tenderness
Of Queen Dido!

And on the same night, alas! the unjust queen,
Accusing her lover, obtained from him with ease,
The sweetest of forgiveness.

Endlessly intoxicating night of ecstasy, etc.

How it can look on stage: 

Here is another gentle love duet sung in moonlight, this being the "Clair de Lune" sequence from "Werther," by Massenet. Vittorio Grigolo and Joyce DiDonato. With English subtitles. 
From Wiki:
Werther is an opera in four acts by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Édouard Blau, Paul Milliet and Georges Hartmann (who used the pseudonym Henri Grémont). It is loosely based on the German epistolary novel "The Sorrows of Young Werther" by Goethe, which was based both on fact and on Goethe's own early life.
About the opera: 

Quite be accident, it seems that all the links so far (except the Bjorling trio) are in French. Maybe it's the summer heat. Hard to bear Italian passione when it's 100 degrees. So here is some more French ardor. Anyone who needs an explanation of the plot of "Romeo and Juliet" should please go back to your texting about "cool" and "awesome" places to eat. (Aria, sung by Roberto Alagna, begins around 4:20.) 
Role : Roméo, a Montague
Setting : Juliet's balcony at the Capulet estate, Verona, Italy, 14th century
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.

Renee Fleming. "Depuis Le Jour," from Charpentier's "Louise." "Since the day. . ." This is pretty much all that is left of Charpentier's once-popular (1900) and only opera. Some composers churn them out, some don't. Charpentier had other rather noble pursuits, it seems, including educating working girls and helping wounded soldiers. From Wiki:
In 1902, Charpentier founded the Conservatoire Populaire Mimi Pinson, intended to provide a free artistic education to Paris's working girls. He worked on a sequel to "Louise," "Julien, ou la vie d'un poète," but it was quickly forgotten after its tepidly received 1913 premiere. For the rest of his extremely long life, Charpentier wrote hardly any further music.He was, nevertheless, no recluse. During World War I, he started the Œuvre de Mimi Pinson and Cocarde de Mimi Pinson to aid wounded soldiers. He died, aged 95, in Paris. 
Role: Louise, a young woman in love with Julien
Setting: a small garden next to the Montmartre, Paris, 1900
Synopsis: Louise describes how her life has changed since moving in with Julien. She revels in his love for her and her life which grows better every day.

Last rose of summer? Jussi Bjorling. "La Fleur que m'avais jetee," from "Carmen." 
Role: Don José, a corporal of the dragoons (soldiers)
Setting: The inn of Lillias Pastia
Synopsis: Carmen and José have just reunited after José's stay in prison for releasing Carmen when he was supposed to be guarding her. She has danced and played castanets for him but in the distance, he hears the call back to the barracks and he says he must go. She becomes angry at him for leaving her. Don Jose then responds by singing how the flower she threw to him kept him going throughout his stay at the prison.

Not Robert Merrill and Jussi Bjorling, but still a contender. The great Nicolai Gedda and baritone Ernest Blanc with "The Pearl Fishers" duet by Bizet, in which the two principals swear that their friendship will not be compromised by their mutual love for a woman. "Au Fond du Temple Saint." 
Ensemble type : duet
Performed by : Zurga (the king of the fishermen) and Nadir (a fisherman)
Synopsis : Nadir and Zurga have reunited after Nadir has been wandering in the jungle for years. At one time, Zurga and Nadir were friends but their friendship broke up over the Brahmin priestess Léïla, whom they both loved. They discuss their old grudges against each other but they declare that the strife their disagreements have caused in the past is no longer an impediment to their friendship.
About Gedda: 
About Blanc: 

We now take French leave. . .
From Bizet's "Pearl Fishers," as haunting a tenor aria as ever was written, "Je crois entendre encore." ("I still believe I hear.") 
Role: Nadir, a fisherman
Setting: A wild and rocky shore on the coast of Ceylon in ancient times
Synopsis: In the past, Nadir had fallen in love with a beautiful Brahman priestess named Léïla at a Brahman temple. Now, a veiled priestess has come to his village and he recognizes her as Léïla. He sings of his love for her which has not been diminished by the time they have spent apart.
I still believe I hear
hidden beneath the palm trees
her voice, tender and deep
like the song of a dove
oh enchanting night
divine rapture
delightful memory
mad intoxication, sweet dream.
In the clear starlight
I still believe I see her
half drawing her long veil
to the warm night breeze.
Oh enchanting night
divine rapture
delightful memory
mad intoxication, sweet dream.
Charming memory.

And if you want to compare it with others. . .

Saturdee Opry Links Encore!
To appreciate this, you'll have to scroll all the way back to the first entry in today's SOL, which featured the Boys Bjorling (as boys) doing this same folk song. Here they are in their last appearance together with "Summer Joy!"

Back to Opera Links

Back to Home Page