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8.550605 - FAVOURITE SOPRANO ARIAS (Luba Orgonasova)
Soprano Operatic Arias
Giacomo Puccini was born in 1858 into a family of musicians. His first opera, Le Villi, won Verdi's approval, but it was with Manon Lescaut, in 1893, some ten years later, that he won signal sucress. There followed La Boheme in 1896, Tosca and Madama Butterfly, in a successful career that ended with Turandot, an opera that he started in 1921 but was unable to complete before his death in 1924. Turandot, based on an eighteenth century drama by Gozzi, deals with the story of the Chinese Princess of the title, who proposes riddles to her suitors, the penalty for failure to find a solution earning immediate execution. Calaf, son of the exiled King of Tartary, in spite of the persuasive insistence of the slave-girl Liu, who urges him to give up the attempt in her aria Signore, ascolta (Sir, listen), answers Turandot's riddles, but agrees to release her if she can discover his name. This she endeavours to accomplish by torturing Calat's loyal slave-girl Liu, who remains faithful to her beloved master, addressing Turandot in the aria Tu che di gel sei cinta (You, who are girdled with ire). At the end of the aria, which comes at the emotional climax of the opera, Liu seizes a dagger and stabs herself. All ends apparently happily for
Calaf and Turandot, when the latter finally understands the meaning of true love.
The short opera Gianni Schicchi forms part of II trittico, The Triptych, a group of three operas, first staged at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1918.
Gianni Schicchi is called in by the family of the recently dereased Buoso Donati, who has left all his money to a monastery. Gianni Schiochi impersonates the dead man and dictates a new will in which he leaves everything to himself, except the house, which he bequeathes to Buoso's nephew Rinucdo, the lover of his daughter Lauretta, whose lack of dowry has earlier made the match impossible. She first pleads with Gianni Schiochi for help in the aria O mio babbino caro (O my beloved daddy).
The dominant figure in Italian opera in the second half of the nineteenth century was Giuseppe Verdi, a man of humble origins, who established his reputation first with the opera Nabucco in 1842. Rigoletto, based on Victor Hugo's Le roi s’amuse was first staged in Venire in 1851. It deals with the seduction of Gilda, daughter of the court jester Rigoletto, by the Duke of Mantua, and Rigoletto's search for vengeance, which ends in the death of his daughter, murdered in place of her seducer. Gilda, wooed at first by the Duke disguised as a student, is abducted and dishonoured, with the help of her father's courtier enemies In Tutte le feste al tempio (On every festival morning) she tells Rigoletto what has happened, how the Duke in disguise courted her and how he has now brought disgrace on her and her father.
Bellini enjoyed a brief career but exercised considerable influence over contemporaries and sucressors not only in the field of opera. La Sonnambula, The Sleepwalker, was first performed at the Teatro Carcano, Milan, in 1831. Amina, foster-daughter of Teresa, owner of the village mill, is to marry Elvino, but walks in her sleep and is discovered in the bedroom of Count Rodolpho, who eventually puts matters right by convincing the villagers and Elvino that Amina is a sleepwalker. In the first act Amina sings in Come per me serena (See how the day serenely) of her happiness at her betrothal to Elvino.
In I Puritani, The Puritans, Bellini sets a text based on the French play Tetes rondes et Cavaliers, Roundheads and Cavaliers, first produced in Paris in 1835, the year of the composer's death. Set in the southern English town of Plymouth, Queen Henrietta, widow of King Charles I, is held prisoner by the Puritan Lord Walton, whose daughter Elvira is in love with the Royalist Lord Arturo Talbot, who helps the Queen escape disguised in Elvira's bridal veil. Elvira loses her reason, thinking herself betrayed, but is restored to sanity and eventual union with her lover, who is pardoned by Cromwell. In Qui la voce sua suave (Here in sweetest accents) Elvira sings in madness.
In La Rondine, The Swallow, first performed in Monte Carlo in 1917, Puccini takes a light comedy, the story of Magda, mistress of the rich Parisian Rambaldo and her love for the aristocratic young Ruggero, whom she eventually leaves, to return to her old mercenary life of pleasure. In the first act the poet Prunier is entertaining Magda and Rambaldo, telling the story of Doretta, who dreamed once that the King one day showed favour to her. Prunier is unable to finish the tale, whid1 Magda takes up in Chi il bel sogno di Doretta (Who can solve the fine dream of Doretta).
Gaetano Donizetti won his first success in Venice in 1818, continuing a highly successful career as a composer of opera. Lucia de Lammermoor, staged first in Naples in 1835, was based on Sir Walter Scott's novel The Bride of Lammermoor. The heroine of the title, Lucia, is induced, by the trickery of her brother, to marry Lord Arturo Bucklaw, rejecting her true lover Edgardo, the rightful Master of Ravenswood. Lucia goes mad and kills her husband, while Edgardo, learning what has happened, kills himself. II dolce suono (The sweet sound) appears in the famous mad scene of Act III, the climax of the piece.
Romeo and Juliet has provided material for many composers. Vincenzo Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecd1i treats with Some freedom the story of the ill-starred lovers in a version successfully mounted for the first time in Venice in 1830. In Oh quante volte, oh quante (0 how many times, how many) Juliet (Giulietta), in a romanza; sadly considers her coming wedding to Tybalt (Tebaldo), a touch of librettist's licence, and her true love for Romeo.
Donizetti's Linda di Chamounix was first performed at the Kiirntherthor Theatre in Vienna in 1842. Set in Savoy in the eighteenth century, the plot tells of Linda's love for Carlo, a nobleman disguised as a penniless painter Seeking refuge from the machinations of another nobleman, she moves to Paris, where a number of misfortunes lead her into madness, a predicament from which she is rescued, restored to sanity and to her lover in conclusion. In O luce di quest' anima (O light of this soul) Linda sings of her love for Carlo, before anything has happened to cloud her happiness.
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