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 # 79: Fun Stuff Edition

Victor Borge

Saturdee Opry Links Overture!
"The Thieving Magpie," by Rossini."

Little did we know that Mozart had a premonition of Hillary Clinton's savage attack on Bernie Sanders when he wrote this aria. You learn lots of things at Saturdee Opry Links---especially in today's banally named "fun stuff" edition. Here is that very pissed off goddess, the Queen of the Night, intoning "Der Holle Rach," or "Hell's Revenge Cooks in My Heart!" from "The Magic Flute." Reminds me of my former stepmother. . .
Setting: Pamina's room
Synopsis: Giving her a knife, the Queen of the Night tells Pamina to kill Sarastro in order to get the Shield of the Sun from him.

Run for your lives, metoo folk! Here comes the unapologetically womanizing Duke of Mantua, a gallery of women swooning in his wake! "Questa o Quella," from Verdi's "Rigoletto." "This one or that one---they're all the same to me!" The tenor is Luciano Pavarotti.
Synopsis: After he discloses his wish to woo the Countess Ceprano, the Duke is warned that the Countess has a jealous husband. The Duke replies that he will go after any woman that he wants to and that he won't be scared off by any jealous husbands.

Continuing the frivolous "fun stuff" edition of SOl, what, really, is more fun than riding a flying horse down to a battlefield, and scooping up dead warriors in order to take them to warrior heaven? What, pinochle? Skeet-shooting? Playing spin-the-bottle with Kellyanne Conway? Here, Brunhilde and her goddess Valkyrie sisters return from just such an outing, to generally proclaim their greatness, discuss plot vagaries, and make bawdy remarks about the respective randiness of their steeds. (Really.) This is the "Ride of the Valkyries," of course, of course, and no one can talk to a horse, of course---wait a second---from Wagner's "Die Walkure." But wait---where are their horsies? You have to imagine them, kiddies, because artists smarter than you and I devised this great big machine that changes shape endlessly throughout all four "Ring" operas in the Met production ("Walkure being number two.") So here, the goddesses essentially are on a giant teeter-totter. Feel free to turn the sound down and play "Ride My See-Saw" by The Moody Blues," if it pleases you. With English subtitles! Brunhilde (redhead, Bonnie!) is Deborah Voight.

What's more fun than in opera than watching the Duke of Mantua---that womanizing hound--complain how fickle women are? The answer is obvious: watching three Dukes of Mantua---those womanizing hounds---complain how fickle women are. Yes, it's time for the "La Donne e Mobile" trifecta, in which Pavarotti, Domingo, and Carreras try to out-mobile one another, so to speak. Have a ball. They did. Especially Domingo! From Verdi's "Rigoletto."
Synopsis: The Duke, disguised as a soldier, sings that all women are fickle and that they will betray anyone who falls in love with them. 

Wind-up dolls are fun. (Exceptions: Trump, Oprah Winfrey, TV reporters.) Here is the most famous wind-up doll in opera---well, the only wind-up doll in opera. This is "Les oiseaux dans la charmille" ("The birds in the hedges") from "Tales of Hoffmann," by Jacques Offenbach. 
Setting: The parlor room of Spalanzani the scientist, 19th century
Synopsis: Spalanzani invites 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. Thing is, she keeps running down. . .

You might not think of forging a sword as fun, but Siegfried seemed to get quite a kick out of it in the eponymous Wagner opera, the third in the "Ring" cycle." To call this plot "intricate" is like saying Mark Zuckerburg has "disposable income." Consider this scene's synopsis:
"Mime the dwarf cringes as he imagines the ferocity of the dragon, Fafnir (who used to be his brother, Alberich.) Siegfried, Mime's diabolically adopted son, returns and is annoyed by Mime's lack of progress in reforging the magic sword called "Nothung." Meanwhile, Mime has been told by a mysterious wanderer---who is actually Wotan, king of the gods, in disguise---that "only one who knows no fear" will be able to put the sword back together---and he suddenly realizes that this would be Siegfried. BUT. . .he has also been told by the mysterious wanderer that Siegfried will kill Mime with Nothung unless he can teach him. . .fear. Huh? Never mind. German myths, you know. . .So Mime tells Siegfried that fear is a grand, wonderful thing, all the rage, very trendy, all the kids are doing it, etc., and Siegfried---who is kind of like Pee Wee Herman, but stronger---is eager to learn it. So Mime takes him to the dragon, Fafnir, to scare the bejeezus out of him. No dice. Just another lizard. Siegfried, frustrated at Mime's constant failure to re-forge the magic sword, decides to just do the damn thing, himself. Uh-oh. He starts pounding the hell out of it on an anvil, prompting Mime to make a poisoned drink to give to Siggy. After Siggy finishes the sword, he demonstrates its strength by chopping the anvil in half. Mime wets his pants. And that's just this scene! Jonas Kaufmann is Siggy. With English subtitles. 

Coffee not working? Turn this up. Wonderful Fritz Wunderlich, which is redundant, was firing on all eight when he had a grand time singing Agustin Lara's classic song, "Granada." In German, no less. Fair to say that nothing is lost in the translation?
About the song:

Figaro, the barber of Seville, sings of his many great traits, how he "knows all the good words," is a "stable genius," and has "perfect, beautiful" phone calls with foreign leaders he attempts to bribe. Oh, wait, sorry, I got distracted. Well, same thing, really, except Figaro is a nice fellow. Here he announces his incomparable tonsorial talents. This is, not surprisingly, from Rossini's "Barber of Seville," here sung dazzlingly by the late, great Bugs Bunny. I mean, Dmitri Hvorostovksy. If he wasn't the greatest baritone ever, he was close to it. 
Setting: Outside Dr. Bartolo's house at daybreak
Synopsis: Figaro sings of his many talents that make him a good doctor, barber, matchmaker, etc.

Yes, yes, I know.

Many of you who follow SOL---I'd say upwards of 10,000---have complained about subtitles and translations. "We don't want to read, we just want to listen," you bitch at me. Well, well, you know, life's tough. Here, perhaps, is a translation you will not mind reading. Really. Try it. I mean, you can take the words or leave them, as the music is great, no matter what is being sung---JUST AS THE SUBTITLES IN THIS PERFORMANCE PROVE! (Told you this was "fun stuff" day.) This is the aria, "Come Scoglio," from Mozart's "Cosi Fan Tutte," classic, sprightly, glorious Wolfgang fare. The plot, and this scene, are so ridiculous as to hardly be worth bothering to parse; such was Mozart's manic mind. For the hell of it, here is a synopsis of this scene:
Setting: the living room of Dorabella and Fiordiligi's house
Synopsis: Two mysterious Albanians 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. 
Actual translation:

The soprano is Marilyn Mulvey. The accompanist, I expect you know. This is "Caro Nome," from Verdi's "Rigoletto," as you have not likely heard it before. I certainly hadn't. Told you this was the "fun stuff" edition.
And for those who would like to hear this delightfully lyrical, flighty coloratura item intoned properly, here is Sumi Jo:
Setting: The house of Rigoletto
Synopsis: After the Duke in the guise of a poor student named Gualtier Malde has seduced her, Gilda sings of her new-found love.

Saturdee Opry Links Encore!
Anna Netrebko goes nuts.
From the Franz Lehar operetta, "Giuditta," this is "Meine Lippen, sie kussen so heiss." ("My lips kiss like fire.") With English subtitles. 

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