Giuseppe Verdi


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Giacomo Puccini

SATURDEE OPRY LINKS 81: Jaho, Hvorostovsky

Saturdee Opry Links (slam-bang) Overture
"Anna Bolena," by Donizetti 

Ermonela Jaho grew up in Communist Albania, wanting to sing from age five. At fourteen, she heard Verdi's "La Traviata," sung in Albanian. "I fell in love!" she said. "I'm going to die if I don't sing once in my life Violetta!" By the end of 2017, she will have sung the role nearly 250 times. Here she is with the poignant, "E strano. . .Ah fors'e lui" from the opera that made her fall in love with opera. 
Synopsis: Violetta Valery, a beautiful and wealthy Parisian courtesan, muses over the offer of Alfredo's love and wondering if he is her true love after her numerous flings.
Translation: (scroll down) 

Ermonela Jaho (what a lovely name) escaped Albania at 19, when soprano Katia Ricciarelli went there to "draft" some young singers. Jaho supported herself by babysitting during her student years in Italy, but it was tough. She nearly gave up several times, and then---like a story from an opera---she began winning competitions. The studying had paid off. She made her professional debut in 2000 in Bologna, and returns to the Met this year. "Opera," she says, "is like meditation. Right now the technology of life makes everything go so fast, but opera needs time. So to sit there and to live the story of someone else, it's like quality time---a little time for human feelings." Here she is with the redoubtable "Brindisi" (drinking song) from "Traviata"---which follows the aria previously posted---with tenor Franceso Demuro. 
Role: Alfredo Germont, a young man in love with Violetta
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.

Good God, this woman is something special. See if Ermonela Jaho does not leave you touched by this rendition of the mysterious, captivating aria, "Ecco: Respiro Appena, Io Son L'umile Ancella" from "Adriana Lecouvreur" by Franceso Cilea. She has a kind of darker soprano (which drops out a little in lower register, it seems, but big deal), yet lyric power, and a wonderful ability to float high notes, all undeniably enhanced by a compelling sincerity (note audience reaction.) You don't like her vibrato? Tough luck. Artifice? Go somewhere else. Those are tears in her eyes at the aria's end.
Role: Adriana Lecouvreur, the star of the Comédie-Française
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.

More stupendous Jaho. I must say, she does make me think of Callas, in terms of conveying the drama. From Puccini's "Madame Butterfly," here is "Un bel di vedremo" ("One fine day, we will see. . .") 
Synopsis: Three years have passed since Butterfly's American husband left her. Her servant Suzuki, tries to convince her that he isn't coming back, but Butterfly is convinced that he will. She sings of the day that he will return. She dreams of him sailing into the harbor and climbing up the hill to meet her.

Concert performance of same:

Ah, the perils of operatic acting:
"Maybe he eat something smelly, and no love can be there!"
So says Ermonela Jaho, rather poetically. Nice interview with a nice woman.

One more from Ermonela Jaho. . ."Senza Mamma," the terribly wrenching aria from Puccini's "Suor Angelica." This is something special, if you can tolerate the tragedy of it. "Write a message in the stars. . ."
Role : Suor Angelica, a daughter of a noble Florentine family who has now become a nun because of her child born out of wedlock
Synopsis : After she finds out from her cruel aunt that her child has died while she has been in the nunnery, Angelica laments her baby's death, saying that without a mother, he never had a chance to live.

Dmitri Hvorostovksy turned 55 this past Oct. 16, in and of itself a great feat, considering he has been battling brain cancer for years, and no longer sings in public. 
Here is Hvorostovksy with a remarkable song, "Cranes," based on a poem by the Dagestani poet Rasul Gamzatov, who visited the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima and was deeply moved by the story of Sadako Sasaki, a girl who folded a thousand origami peace cranes while dying of the effects of radiation from the bombing on Aug. 6, 1945.Gamzatov’s poem was translated into Russian by Naum Grebnyov and was read by actor Mark Bernes, who adapted the poem into lyrics for music to be composed by Yan Frenkel. When the song was finished, Bernes was ill with cancer and died a week after his recording was released. With English subtitles. 

SOL's small tribute to the great baritone, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, continues with the great tribute to nature, "Ombra Mai Fu," from Handel's "Xerxes." The ailing Hvorostovsky, by the way, is 100 percent guilty of collusion. He colluded with music to bring beauty and joy into the world. (There is a precede, with aria starting around 1:40.) 
"Tender and beautiful fronds
of my beloved plane tree,
let Fate smile upon you.
May thunder, lightning, and storms
never disturb your dear peace,
nor may you by blowing winds be profaned.
Never was a shade
of any plant
dearer and more lovely,
or more sweet."

There are endless numbers of richly moving baritone and bass-baritone arias, yes, so when one sticks in minds above most, that says much. This is Hvorostovksy with "Di Provenza" from "La Traviata." 
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.

Studio recording: 

Here is Hvorostovksy earlier this year, still gamely singing away---this time with a tune usually sung by tenors. The Neopolitan song, "Dicentello." "You Tell Her This."
Tell her that she’s a rose of May,
that is much more beautiful than a sunny day.
From her lips
that are fresher than violets
I still want to hear
That she’s in love with me

Here is what, in all likelihood, will be Hvorostovsky's final public appearance, from last May at the Met's 50th anniversary at Lincoln Center concert. Heroic. The alternately angry, anguished, pleading "Cortigiani, vil razza dannata" from Verdi's "Rigoletto."
Role: Rigoletto, a hunchbacked jester
Setting: A room in the Duke's palace
Synopsis: Rigoletto's daughter has been abducted by several courtiers and given to the Duke. When Rigoletto tries to get through them to find his daughter, they will not let him pass and he releases his fury upon them.

Saturdee Opry Links Encore!
Dmitri Hvorostovksy and Jonas Kaufmann (yes, SOL has posted it before---tough) sing the endlessly affecting "Au Fond du Temple Saint" from Bizet's "Pearl Fishers." A pledge between two friends to remain so, despite their mutual love of the same woman. 

Saturdee Opry Links Second Encore!
Hvorostovksy. Wishing him comfort.
"What a beautiful thing is a sunny day." 

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