Friday, September 18, 2009
L'elisir d'amore (The Elixir of Love) is a melodramma giocoso in two acts by the Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti. Felice Romani wrote the Italian libretto after Eugène Scribe's libretto for Daniel-François-Esprit Auber's Le philtre (1831).
The premiere was at the Teatro della Canobbiana, Milan on 12 May 1832.
Place: A small village in the Basque Country.
Time: The end of the 18th century
The opening of this comic opera finds Nemorino, a poor peasant, in love with Adina, a beautiful landowner, who torments Nemorino with her indifference. When Nemorino hears Adina reading to her workers the story of Tristan and Isolde, he is convinced that a magic potion will gain Adina's love for him. He is afraid she loves the self-important Sergeant Belcore who appears with his regiment and immediately proposes marriage to Adina in front of everyone. The traveling quack salesman, Dulcamara (the self-proclaimed Dr. Encyclopedia), arrives, selling his bottled cure-all to the townspeople. Nemorino innocently asks Dulcamara if he has anything like Isolde's love potion. Dulcamara says he does, selling it to Nemorino at a price matching the contents of Nemorino's pockets.
Unknown to Nemorino, the bottle contains only wine. And, in order to make a timely escape, Dulcamara tells Nemorino the potion will not take effect until the next day. Nemorino drinks it, feeling its effects immediately. Emboldened by the 'elixir' Nemorino encounters Adina, and although she teases him mercilessly, the audience senses that the attraction just might be mutual, were it not for the marriage proposal of the impressive and pompous sergeant. In fact, their wedding date had been set for six days hence. Nemorino's confidence that tomorrow he will win Adina by virtue of the elixir, causes him to act indifferently toward her. This upsets Adina, but she attempts to hide her feelings. Instead, she ups the ante as well by agreeing to Sergeant Belcore's alternate suggestion: that they marry immediately as he has just received orders that the regiment must ship off the next morning. Both Adina and the Sergeant gauge Nemorino's reaction to this news, the Sergeant with resentment, Adina with despair. Nemorino is, of course panicked, and cries out for Doctor Dulcamara to come to his aid.
Adina's outdoor wedding party is in full swing. Dr. Dulcamara is there, and performs a song with Adina to entertain the guests. The notary arrives to make the marriage official. Adina is sad to see that Nemorino has not appeared. Everyone goes inside to sign the wedding contract. But Dulcamara stays outside, helping himself to food and drink. Nemorino appears, having seen the notary, realizes that he has lost Adina. He sees the Doctor and frantically begs him for more elixir, of the type that will work immediately. But because Nemorino has no money, the Doctor refuses, disappearing inside. The Sergeant emerges, alone, wondering aloud why Adina has suddenly put off the wedding and the signing of the contract. Nemorino spots his rival, but is powerless to do anything. The Sergeant asks about Nemorino's dejection. When Nemorino says he has no money Belcore immediately suggests that if he joins the army he'll be paid immediately. He produces a contract, which Nemorino signs (with an X) in return for the cash Belcore gives him on the spot. Nemorino privately vows to fly to Dulcamara for more potion, while Belcore muses that he has easily dispatched of his rival by sending him off to war.
Later that evening the women of the village are gossiping that Nemorino is unaware that he has just inherited a large fortune from his deceased uncle. They spot Nemorino, who has clearly spent his military signing bonus, and has bought and consumed a large amount of 'elixir' (wine again) from Dr. Dulcamara. The women approach Nemorino with overly friendly greetings, the likes of which he has never seen. This is proof to Nemorino that this dose of the elixir has worked. Adina sees Nemorino in a jolly mood and, encountering Dr. Dulcamara, wonders what has gotten into him. Dulcamara, unaware that Adina is the object of Nemorino's affection, tells her the story of the smitten bumpkin who spent his last penny on the elixir, and even signed his life away, joining the army for money to get more, so desperate was he to win the love of some unnamed cruel beauty. Adina immediately realizes Nemorino's sincerity, and regrets teasing him. She falls for Nemorino, basking in the sincerity of his love. Dulcamara interprets this behavior as some sort of condition requiring a cure by one of his potions.
They depart. Nemorino appears alone, pensive, reflecting on a tear he saw in Adina's eye when he was ignoring her earlier. Based on that tear alone, he is sincerely convinced that Adina loves him. She enters, asking him why he has chosen to join the army and leave the town. When Nemorino says he's seeking a better life, Adina responds by telling him he is loved, and that she has purchased his military contract from Sergeant Belcore. She offers the cancelled contract to Nemorino, asking him to take it. He is free now. She says, however, that if he stays, he will no longer be sad. As he takes the contract Adina turns to leave. Nemorino believes she is abandoning him and flies in to a desperate fit, vowing that if he is not loved, if the elixir has not worked, and the Doctor has fooled him, then he might as well go off and die a soldier. Adina stops him and confesses that she loves him. Nemorino is ecstatic. Adina begs him to forgive her for teasing him. He does so with a kiss. The sergeant returns, seeing the two in an embrace. Adina explains that she loves Nemorino. The Sergeant takes the news in stride, noting that there are plenty of other women in the world. Dulcamara, his bags packed, pops out of a doorway, adding that he will happily provide elixir for the Sergeant's next conquest. A crowd has gathered by now, all agreeing that the elixir has done its job as they bid a fond farewell to the doctor.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Role: Santuzza, a peasant girl
Voice Part: soprano
Setting: Easter Sunday in the main square of a Sicilian village, Italy, late 1800s
Range: B4 to A6. Tessitura : F4 to G5
Synopsis: Santuzza tells Mamma Lucia that when her son left to join the Army, he promised to marry Lola. When he came back, however, Lola had married someone else. So, he fell in love with Santuzza which made Lola so jealous that she has stolen him away from Santuzza.
You know, mamma, that
Before he went off to be a soldier
Turiddu swore to Lola
To be eternally faithful
He returned to find her married;
And with a new love
He wanted to extinguish the flame
That burnt in his heart:
He loved me, I loved him.
She, envious of my happiness,
Forgotten by her husband,
Burning with jealousy,
She stole him from me.
I am left, dishonoured:
Lola and Turiddu love each other,
And I weep!
Monday, September 7, 2009
Such a unique and beautiful voice...it could never be mistaken for another. Ettore is an artist that has past for all time... no other shall replace him. Leontyne Price also sounds great in this rare clip.
Celeste Aida - Romanza from Act I of the Italian opera, Aïda by Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto : Antonio Ghislanzoni. Sung by great Luciano Pavarotti. This performance was recorded in La Scala, in 1986.
Role: Radamès, an officer in the Egyptian army
Voice Part : tenor
Fach : dramatic tenor/heldentenor
Setting : A hall in the Palace of the Kings at Memphis.
Range : Has not been entered yet.
Synopsis : Rumors of an impending war with Ethiopia have been circulating. Radamès has just been told by Ramfis that Isis has named a new, young man to command the Egyptian Army. Radamès wishes it were he so he could free Aida.
Celeste Aïda, Radamès's aria from Aïda, English Translation:
If I were that warrior!
If my dream came true!
An army of brave men lead by me
And all victories and the praise of Menfi
And to you, my sweet Aida,
Returning wrapped in laurels
I would say: I've fought for you,
I've won for you!
Heavenly Aida, divine shape,
mystic garland of light and flowers,
you are queen of my thoughts,
you are the splendour of my life
I would like to give you your sky back,
the sweet breeze of the fatherland:
to put a regal garland on your heart
to build up a throne for you next to the sun
Thursday, September 3, 2009
The story of Ettore Bastianini by David MacchiEttore Bastianini was born on the 24th of September 1922 in Siena in the district ("contrada") called Pantera (the Panther), and he died in Sirmione on Lake Garda on the 25th of January 1967. He was son of an unknown father and his mother was all he had of any importance in this world. He voice was naturally very beautiful and he started right after world war two a short carrer as a bass. He wasn't going anywhere really, but one day he was convinced by his teacher Maestro Luciano Bettarini to try to study for six months as a baritone. It was 1951 and he was 29. He was very poor though, and he couldn't afford to pay for the lessons, but his teacher said to him that he would have paid him later when he would have been rich and famous, and that's exactly what happened!
He was so poor that he had to shave himself with the same razor for a whole week, because he couldn't even afford to buy new razors! It didn't take long to get to his debut as a baritone in his Siena on January 1952 and then, that same year, on December at the Teatro Comunale in Florence in "The queen of spades" by Tciaikovskij. In 1953 he sang in Turin in "Andrea Chenier" and then, on December of that same year, he was already at the Metropolitan Theatre of New York in "Traviata" where he received an ovation after his aria!!! His voice was so beautiful that was compared to bronze and velvet because it was powerful but soft at the same time.
He was on his way then to a great carrer, going from triumph to triumph, and in 1955 he was at La Scala in Milan in the legendary Visconti production of "Traviata" with Maria Callas and Giulini as conductor. He would sing then, in his short but very intense carrer (just over 10 years), for the Teatro alla Scala in 20 different operas as the principal baritone. He became then the principal baritone of the most important theatres of the world: La Scala, Vienna Staatsoper and New York apart from frequent performances in all the others including London, Salzburg, Chicago...
Then, just when in 1962, he thought he had found finally the woman of his life, a young girl called Manuela, the terrible condamn to death in Chicago: cancer in the throath! He never said anything to anyone and he kept for himself the horrible secret. His dear mother had died in that same period and he was alone. He said to his girlfriend that he couldn't go on with her anymore without telling her why. He kept going with his carrer but he had to undergo the terrible radiations because he had refused to have an operation that, if it might have made him live until old age, he would have taken away, on the other hand, his main reason to live: the artistic expression of singing.
Of course his voice wasn't the same anymore but nobody knew why, and eventually the inevitable happened: he got booed at La Scala in "Rigoletto" as his voice wasn't responding anymore to the orders of his will. A sad decline followed and the only happy moment was the victory of his district "The Panther" in the horse race of Siena "Il Palio" while he was President and Captain. In the pictures in this page you can see Ettore in triumph after the victory and with the winning horse. He bought the horse afterwards and he called him "Ettore", of course.Then sorrow and pain came back and the great theatres one after another finished the contracts with him. Destiny wanted that the last scene he sang in 1965 in the three greatest theatres of Vienna, Milan and New York was the death scene of Marquis of Posa in "Don Carlo" by Verdi, the noble role he had sung so well in the past...
Public, critics, his colleagues and everybody in the opera world wondered about this misterious decline of a singer just over 40 years old who had been so good before, and it was with surprise and sorrow that the news of his illness was received, when he was already about to die. He died in Sirmione on the 25th of January 1967 at only 44 and it was for pure coincidence that the girl he had loved, Manuela, the one he had wanted to leave 5 years before, the one he had never seen anymore since, the one who even had married in the meantime, was the only one there with him when he gave his last breath. Two days later all the town of Siena was there for his funeral. He received the honours of Captain of the "Contrada della Pantera" and it was the procedure of a funeral of State.
When the funeral passed close to one of the openings on Piazza del Campo, the coffin was turned toward the Tower of Mangia for a last goodbye as the bell of the Palazzo Comunale stroked death tolls.
The memory of his Art has never died though. It goes on alive all over the world among the REAL music lovers, the people who study it , who sing it, who listen to it, who goes to the theatre hoping desperately to find something decent among the too many CARDBOARD VOICES around, especially male singers. It is really SAD that the wonderful art of opera singing is drowning into oblivion and one of the reasons is definetely the fact that there are too many singers with NO BALLS, if you get my drift...and if anybody among you is offended by my opinion, that's simply the proof that I am right! Ettore Bastianini will always live in our memory.
A voice of the century, Enrico Caruso sings Cielo e mar, Romanza from Act II of the Italian opera, La Gioconda by Amilcare Ponchielli
Role : Enzo Grimaldo, a Genoese nobleman
Voice Part : tenor
Fach : spinto
Setting : The deck of Enzo's ship, 17th century
Range : D3 to A#/Bb5.
Tessitura : G3 to G4
Synopsis : As Enzo stands watch on his ship, he awaits the arrival of his love Laura. He sings of the sea and sky around him and his love.
Sky and sea! the airy curtain
sparkles like a holy altar
Will my angel come from the sky?
will my angel come from the sea?
Here I wait for her; the wind
now blows hot with love
Ah, that man who sighs for you,
he overcomes you, o golden dreams!
Through the thick air
neither shore nor mountains appear
The horizon kisses the waves;
the waves kiss the horizon.
Here in the darkness, where I lie
waiting with racing heart
Come, o woman, come to my kiss
... of life and of love.
(translation by Mark D. Lew)
This is combining the BEL CANTO technique with the new veristic qualities that Enrico Caruso gained in time. That's why his voice is regarded as the GREATEST!! NO ONE in the history of recorded sound had these qualities. Beauty, power and technical skills above anything we ever heard. All vocalists should learn from this example of virtuosity! its perfect. And made all in ONE take!
Tenors of the 78 R.P.M. era series.
From the Jussi Björling Museum: Jussi Björling's total number of performances (statistics including information about the museum's holdings connected with the performances)
In all, 2980 performances by Björling are known and dated (June 2009). Of these, 932 were given by him as a child together with his brothers Olle and Gösta and mostly also with his father David, 2048 as a tenor. (For annual numbers, see details under "More information" to the right.) This number includes opera performances (Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci on the same evening being counted as two performances), concerts, recitals, radio programmes and singing contributions of various kinds. Of the total number, 932 are complete opera performances.
Jussi Björling Documentary Part 1:
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Two amazing voices blending perfectly! Lucia Popp and Gundula Janowitz in "Le Nozze di Figaro" conducted by Georg Solti at Paris Opera Garnier in 1980.
The very famous stage production by Giorgio Strelher.
Recorded in London, 1967 with Ambrosian Singers, Philharmonia Orchestra under Georg Fischer (who, incidentally, was Lucia's first husband)
Laudate Dominum Lyrics
Laudate Dominum omnes gentes;Laudate eum, omnes populi.Quoniam confirmata estSuper nos misericordia ejus,Et veritas Domini manet in aeternum. Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper.Et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Laudate Dominum English Translation
Praise the Lord, all nations;
Praise Him, all people.
For He has bestowed
His mercy upon us,
And the truth of the Lord endures forever.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and forever,
and for generations of generations.
Should you wish to check out Victoria de los Angeles Laudate Dominum, just follow the link.
When I think about it, what about Emma Kirkby's Laudate Dominum?
Temple Church, London as a recording venue,1964,for Victoria de los Angeles with the Bath Festival Orchestra, and Temple Church Choir:
Should you wish to check out Lucia Popp's Laudate Dominum, just follow the link.
On 12 June 2009, after 10 days of exciting campaign, 85% of eligible Iranian voters all over the world turned out to vote for their favorite candidate. But the morning after elections the result was not what they voted for. Their votes were stolen, politicians, human right activists and opposition leaders had been arrested over night, foreign media corespondents and international journalists had been expelled and cities were full of riot police and security forces.
Despite all these Iranians have come to streets to shout their freedom and ask for their vote. Hundreds have been killed so far and thousands have been arrested. But until now, after 40 days, Iranians inside Iran still continue their protests, and all over the world expat Iranians and other countries' citizens support them by protesting in front of Iran embassies. This movement is known as "Green Movement" because of using green color by Iranian protestors that was Mousavi's campaign color.
The song is an old Italian antifascist song. This video is made for all brave Iranians who stay against bullets and despite brutal repression ask for their vote and freedom.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Jussi Björling and Renata Tebaldi sing "Che gelida manina" and "Sí, mi chiamano Mimí" from Puccini´s "La Boheme". I am too overwhelmed by the perfection to write more about it.
Jussi Björling and Renata Tebaldi, in this video introduced by the famous Charles Laughton as well one of the most famous actors of the 40s and 50s.:
Silvery voice of a great Jussi Björling is still unsurpassed: Jussi Björling’s flawless vocal technique, silvery beauty of tone, gleaming upper register, and superb interpretive skills have made him one of the greatest and most beloved tenors of the twentieth century. Numerous colleagues as well as music critics have long placed him at the very pinnacle of vocal excellence. It was to Jussi that Dorothy Caruso, widow of Enrico Caruso, said, "You are the only one worthy to wear his mantle, bear Rico’s crown!"
Thinking of Björling's chiaroscuro - transitory changes in vowel sound or registration balance can be made quite healthily for affect, providing that the singer never loses sight of his true timbre & vocal balance, & returns to them.