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

OPERA LINKS Feb 15, 2014
Valentine's Day!

1.Today's inevitable Valentine-y opry links theme: luuuuhve. Let's see. . .they met about ten minutes before this. She came in to get her candle lighted and wound up with her heart aflame! Two people meet, introduce themselves, then declare their undying love. In fifteen minutes. Just like life. Hard to think of a better pairing than Jussi Bjorling and Victoria de los Angeles. Here is the duet, "O Soave Fanciulla" ("O beautiful girl in the moonlight") from Puccini's "La Boheme."

Translation: (type "O Soave Fanciulla" in the "find" thingy, and it will take you right there.)

2.More Puccini luuuhve wonderment, with Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna. This is one of those Puccini moments---possibly the greatest of its kind---where you can only mutter, "Oh my God," such is the staggering beauty of it. The all-too-brief quartet with chorus from "La Rondine," ("The Swallow.")
Ruggero offers a toast: Let us drink to love! The two couples drink, then Ruggero toasts Magda. "I drink to your fresh smile. I drink to your profound desires and to your lips, which have uttered my name." (Bevo al tuo fresco sorriso) To Magda, this evening is a fulfillment of her dream. She is supremely happy. Lisette and Prunier exchange thoughts of love for each other. Prunier even tells her that she is the first who has spoken to his heart. Ruggero and Magda swear to be with each other forever.
Opera synopsis:
I regret that there is no translation available, but really, who needs one?

"I drink to your fresh smile."

3.And while on "La Rondine," here's another lovely thing to swallow. (Pun alert! Pun alert! You'll have to translate the title.) An old Opry Links fave, as is Gheorghiu. How did Puccini write this stuff? Maybe it was the cigars. They do facilitate concentration. "Doretta's Glorious Dream."
Synopsis: Act 1, Magda's salon, Paris. At a cocktail party hosted by the courtesan Magda, the poet Prunier expounds his theories on love. Magda's friends Yvette, Bianca and Suzy playfully mock him, while Lisette, Magda's maid, tells him he does not know what he is talking about. Prunier takes offence and Magda orders Lisette to leave. Prunier maintains that no one is immune to romantic love and sings the first verse of his latest song about Doretta, who rejected a king as her suitor because of the value she placed on true love. He does not know how to finish the song, so Magda takes over and provides the second verse: she recounts how Doretta falls in love with a student (Aria: Chi il bel sogno di Doretta). Magda's guests are charmed by her performance and her long-term protector Rambaldo gives her a pearl necklace.

 4."Tacea la notte placida"---"The night was still and quiet"---has a welling, yearning piquancy seldom equaled in my (limited ) opera experience.
(Regret there is no footage of Callas doing this. Fate is a callous thing.)
Scene 2: Garden in the palace of the princess
Leonora confesses her love for the Troubadour to her confidante, Ines (Tacea la notte placida / "The peaceful night lay silent"... Di tale amor / "A love that words can scarcely describe"), in which she tells how she fell in love with a mystery knight, victor at a tournament: lost track of him when a civil war broke out: then encountered him again, in disguise as a wandering troubadour who sang beneath her window.

About the opera:

5.And here is that great luuhve aria, "Sei il primo, l'ultimo, il mio tutto. . ." From the opera, "L'amore senza limiti," by Barone Bianco. Here sung by the composer himself, in a duet with Luciano Pavarotti. (Anybody who can tell me what Pavarotti is singing?)

6."La ci darem la mano" ('Give me thy hand, oh fairest"), from Don Giovanni, by the man who never wrote a wrong note. Luuhve, genteel and restrained. Who said opera singers have to wail?
Bryn Terfel and Hei-Kyung Hong at the Met.

Lesser knowns, but with English captions. . .
"Oh, saro la piu bella" ("Oh, I shall be the most beautiful.)
Love duet from "Manon Lescaut," quite the potboiler, by Puccini. If you ever get a chance to see the silent film, "When a Man Loves," with John Barrymore, it's the "Manon" story, and it's quite the rollicking epic. That's two "quites" in close company, but we're talking unrequited love, so. . .
Plot summary:
This duet is in act 2.
Translation: (search "Oh, I shall be the most beautiful.")
And for those who do not need captions, and prefer to hear this the way it should be sung, here are Callas and DiStefano.

8.I know you're out there, wondering, where are the tenors? And why don't you ever show clips of Jonas Kaufmann? Wonder no more. Cavaradossi paints his love's portrait. "Recondita Armonia," from "Tosca." "Hidden Harmony."
About, translation:

9.There are all kinds of luuhhve, of course, so why exclude paternal? Here is perhaps the most heartbreaking moment in all opera, in which Wotan, king of the gods, parts from his daughter, Brunhilde. She didn't follow daddy's orders, see, but realizes the orders were the bidding of her evil stepmother (gee, why do I identify with this?), and acts on her own in what she believes her father's true beliefs were. This all has to do with rescuing a couple in love, who happen to be brother and sister, but we'll leave that in the ambiguous morality of mythology for now. Instead of simply stripping Brunhilde of her goddess-ness and abandoning her to the mortal world, Wotan, the old softy, is persuaded to first surround her with a magic fire that only the greatest of heroes would brave in order to rescue her. So here is maybe the greatest Wotan ever, Hans Hotter, in an old black-and-white clip. "Wotan's Farewell and the Magic Fire Music," from "Das Rheingold," by Wagner. And Wagner's "Ring" cycle, as the great conductor and scholar James Conlon will tell you, is all about the redemptive power of love---as are, really, all of his operas. Surprise, surprise. "Leb wohl,du kunhes, herrliches Kind!" "Farewell, you wonderful child!"
For those prefer a color production in better definition, here is the famed Boulez "Ring" excerpt, with Donald McIntyre.

10.And for all the many people who have listened to each one of these Opry posts today, but are just to shy to to click "like" (I know there are thousands of you), here is the emperor of operatic love declarations, that will never be surpassed, "Che Gelida Manina" ("How cold your little hand is") from Puccini's "La Boheme." Nothing else written captures the hope--"la speranza," which happens to get the biggest note of the aria---of luuhve more than this. And yes, this is what happens minutes before Rodolfo and Mimi declare their mutual love in "O Soave Fanciulla," which was our first Opry link today. I tried singing this to various women long ago, but, sad to say, it did not have the desired impact. And I don't know of a better rendering than this one:


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