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8.557109 - SOPRANO ARIAS (Marina Mescheriakova)
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Marina Mescheriakova - Soprano Arias

Marina Mescheriakova - Soprano Arias

Eugene Onegin • Norma • Don Carlo • Luisa Miller

 

Living in a global world, we rarely consider how many opera singers in the last fifty years have triumphed, at least in part, because of a particular cultural background which shone through their public image. Maria Callas’s blend of Greek, American and Italian culture, for instance, was an essential ingredient of her perceived persona, just as Leontyne Price’s descent, with African-American memories of deportation and slavery, must have helped with the creation of her unforgettable Aida.

 

Nowadays we can still detect regional varieties of taste when comparing opera programmes in Italy, France, Germany, Britain, the United States and Japan, but extending comparisons over the last fifty years, a growing harmonization is undeniable almost anywhere, except in the former Soviet Union. There things only now start to respond: only in 2002, for instance, did the St Petersburg’s Mariinsky stage their première of Mozart’s Così fan tutte.

 

Ten years ago the programme of the recital here recorded would never have been the choice of a Russian soprano. Until the final days of the Soviet era, Russian performers and opera lovers could know Luisa Miller, Maria Stuarda and La Vestale only from hearsay. Recordings of Callas or Sutherland were restricted to a tiny élite of well-connected connoisseurs, and even arias from standard operatic repertoire like Ernani or Norma were rarely, if ever, heard in their original context.

 

In other words Marina Mescheriakova’s choice of programme here is motivated by entirely personal reasons, founded on expatriation and cross-cultural encounters. Life-stories like hers are generally squeezed into the uninspiring bio format, but become very interesting when read like an explorer’s logbook. We can say, in fact, that this recital charts the exploration of the global operatic repertoire by a brave and talented young lady from Russia.

 

Composed in 1844 and based on the ultra-romantic stage success Hérnani by Victor Hugo, Ernani is Verdi’s first opera set in Spain, one of a series including Il trovatore, La forza del destino and Don Carlos. All these operas present sharp contrasts between day and night, love and duty, personal ethics and religion, young and old, contrasts on which Verdi thrived. In Ernani, Ernani, involami Leonora feels like a hostage in the castle of the old aristocrat Silva who wants to marry her. She hopes to be kidnapped by the bandit hero Ernani: his mountain cave will be heaven, compared with her gilded cage. In the closing cabaletta she bursts into an outright declaration of love.

 

Bellini is a supreme stylist in Italian opera, a strict observer of quintessential elegance. His melodies curl snake-like around long sustained arches, accompaniments are kept at a meaningful minimum, chorus words become pointillist syllables detached by long pauses. With a libretto again based on a French play, the lyric tragedy Norma was first staged at La Scala, Milan, in 1831. Norma is a druid priestess and Casta diva is her prayer to the Moon, as she performs a sacred rite in the woods of Celtic France. It is a glowing moment of beauty, as she tries to silence the anger of a community under Roman rule, and stifle her own sense of guilt at her association with her people’s enemy.

 

Verdi and his wife loved the city of Genoa, where they often spent the winter at the lavish Palazzo Doria. An aural counterpart of seascapes he loved and knew so well, the aria Come in quest’ora bruna, from the revised 1881 Simon Boccanegra is an epitome of Verdi’s mature style. From a terrace in Genoa Amelia looks at the sea at sunrise. She believes herself to be an orphan and has flashing memories of her dying mother. She does not know what her future will be, considering her adoptive family’s strict code of honour.

 

Verdi’s opera Don Carlos, based on a French version of Schiller’s dramatic poem, had its first performance, with a French libretto, in Paris in 1867. The Italian version was first staged at La Scala in 1884. It centres on the conflict between Don Carlos and his father, Philip II of Spain, who has married Elisabeth de Valois, originally intended as a wife for Don Carlos. In Tu che le vanità Elisabeth de Valois, in a crypt, addresses her plea for sympathy to the tomb of Charles V. She had hoped to marry Don Carlo and herald a new age, but is now the loveless wife of his father, who is ready to kill his son. All dreams have vanished. She feels ready to die. This black, pessimistic scene is central not only to Don Carlo, but to Verdi’s whole idea of drama. From Oberto to the end, Falstaff included, Verdi obsessively presents people who speak to, but do not really understand each other. This failure in communication is particularly prevalent between generations, as in Rigoletto or Boccanegra, but nowhere does it appear as fatal as in this portrait of a young woman reduced to converse with the dead.

 

Verdi’s many prayer scenes are sometimes explained as an Italian stereotype, derived from familiar Catholic ritual. Strangely, however, these prayers never seem to yield any result. In fact, in Verdi’s idea they are addressed to an empty sky, and that is precisely why they are so tragic. Based on Schiller’s Kabale und Liebe, the opera Luisa Miller was first staged in Naples in 1849. In Tu puniscimi, o Signore Luisa Miller prays in desperation, as Count Walter’s steward, Wurm, threatens her imprisoned father, demanding that she renounce the Count’s son, Rodolfo, and elope with him. She is forced to renounce Rodolfo, but in the end the lovers die together, after Rodolfo has killed Wurm.

 

Schiller’s Maria Stuart was popular in nineteenth-century Italy in its depiction of a Catholic heroine, martyred by her Protestant rival. Donizetti’s opera on the subject had a difficult early history, banned by royal command in Naples, where it was to have been first staged, and provoking censorship in Milan in 1835 in a period when the execution of monarchs was a subject better avoided. In her cavatina O nube! che lieve per l’aria ti aggiri Mary strolls in the park of Fotheringay where she is kept a prisoner. She enjoys this brief semblance of freedom: the sight of clouds moving East stirs memories of her youth. Then she realises that Queen Elisabeth is hunting nearby, and has mixed feelings at the prospect of meeting her face-to-face.

 

The Italian composer Spontini established himself in Napoleonic Paris in 1807 with his opera La Vestale, a work much encouraged by the Empress Josephine. The opera was revived by Arturo Toscanini in the early twentieth century and the aria O nume tutelar is taken from that Italian version, made popular by Rosa Ponselle, Anita Cerquetti and Maria Callas. A priestess of the Roman goddess Vesta, Giulia kneels before her altar to confess her guilt. Bound by a vow of chastity, she is in love with a man.

 

Tatiana’s Letter Scene from Tchaikovsky’s 1878 opera Eugene Onegin is possibly the most famous letter scene in the history of opera. Here the ingenuous young heroine writes of her love for Onegin, a careless young man of the world, who is to reject her. The scene unfolds in an impromptu form reminiscent of Chopin, ideal backdrop for a romantic 1830 débutante. With its demand for a wide palette of emotions and vocal colours, it is also above all the text of maturity for a Russian lyric soprano.

 

Rachmaninov’s operas returned to Russian repertoire in the 1970s, when performances of his and Stravinsky’s earlier, pre-Stalinist works were again allowed. Composed on a libretto by Tchaikovsky’s brother Modest, based on Dante’s story of the ill-fated lovers Paolo Malatesta and Francesca, his brother’s wife. Francesca da Rimini, first staged at the Bolshoy in 1906, is a twisted masterpiece worth a wider reputation. Married to sadistic Lanceotto, whom she betrayed with his brother Paolo, Francesca is one of the most pathetic characters in Dante’s Inferno, condemned to fly eternally in a cold, stormy wind.

 

Carlo Majer

 

 

[1]          Rachmaninov: Francesca da Rimini, Act I:

               Francesca’s Aria

 

FRANCESCA

O, nye ridáy, moy Páolo, nye nádo...

Pust’nye danó nam znat’ lobzániy,

puskáy my zdyed razlúcheni...

Nedólog srok zemníkh skitániy,

mel’knút, kak mig, zemníye sni!

Nye plach’, tsenóy zemníkh muchéniy

Nas zhdyot s tobóy blazhénstvo tam,

gdye nyet tenyéy, gdye nyet lishéniy,

gdye u lyubví netl enniy khram!

Tam, v visotyé, za grán’yu míra,

v tvoíkh ob’yátiyákh paryá,

v lazúri svyétlovo efíra

ya búdu v vyéchnosti tvoyá!...

 

 

[2]          tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin, Act I:

               Tatiana’s Letter Scene

 

TATYANA

Puskáy pogíbnu ya, no pryézhde

ya v oslepítel’noy nadyézhde

blazhénstvo tómnoye zovú,

ya nyégu zhízni uznayú!

Ya p’yu volshébniy yad zheláni!

menyá preslyéduyut mechtí!

Vezdyé, vezdyé perédo mnoy

moy iskusítel’ rokovóy!

Vezdyé, vezdyé,on prédo mnóyu!

Nyet, vsyo ne to!

Nachnú snachála!

Akh, shto so mnoy, ya vsya goryú...

Ne znáyu, kak nachát’!

“Ya k vam pishú,...

chevó zhe bólye?

Shto ya mogú yeshchó skazát’?

Tepyér ya znáyu, v váshey vólye

menyá prezryényem nakazát’!

No vi,k moyéy neschástnoy dólye

 

khot’ káplyu zhálosti khranyá,

vi ne ostávitye menyá.

Snachála ya molchát’ khotyéla;

povyér’te, moyevó stidá

vi ne uználi b nikogdá, nikogdá!”

O da, klyalás’ ya sokhranít’ v dushyé

priznán’ye v strásti pílkoy i bezúmnoy!

Uví! Ne v sílakh ya vladyét’svoyéy dushóy!

Pust’ búdet to,shto bit’ dolzhnó so mnoy!

Yemú priznáyus’ ya! Smelyéy!

On vsyo uznáyet!

“Zachém,zachém vi posetíli nas?

V glushí zabítovo selyén’ya

ya b nikogdá ne znála vas,

ne znála b gór’kovo muchén’ya.

Dushí neópitnoy volnyén’ya

 

smirív,so vryémenem,kak znat’?

Po syérdtsu ya nashlá bi drúga,

bilá bi vyérnaya suprúga

i dobrodyétel’naya mat’...”

Drugoy! Nyet, nikomú na svyéte

ne otdalá bi syérdtsa ya!

To v víshnem suzhdenó sovyéte,

to vólya nyéba:ya tvoyá!

Vsya zhizn’ moyá bilá zalógom

svidán’ya vyérnovo s tobóy;

ya znáyu: ti mnye póslan Bógom

do gróba ti khranítel’ moy!

Ti v snovidyén’yakh mnye yavlyálsa,

nezrími, ti uzh bil mnye mil,

tvoy chúdniy vzglyad menyá tomíl,

v dushyé tvoy gólos razdaválsa.

Davnó...  nyet éto bil ne son!

Ti chut’ voshól, ya vmig. Uznála

 

vsya obomlyéla, zapilála,

i v míslyakh mólvila:

vot on! vot on!

Ne právda l’! Ya tebyá slikhála...

Ti govoríl so mnoy v tishí,

kogdá ya byédnim pomogála,

 

íli molítvoy uslazhdála toskú dushí?

I v éto sámoye mgnovyén’ye

ne ti li, míloye vidyén’ye,

v prozráchnoy temnotyé mel’knúl,

Priníknuv tíkho k izgolóv’yu

Ne ti l’, s otrádoy i lyubóv’yu,

slová nadyézhdi mnye shepnúl?

“Kto ti: moy ángel li khranítel’

Íli kovárniy iskusítel’?

Moí somnyén’ya razreshí.

Bit’ mózhet, éto vsyo pustóye,

obmán neópitnoy dushí,

i suzhdenó sovsyém inóye?”

No tak i bit’! Sud’bú moyú

otníne ya tebyé vrucháyu,

péred tobóyu slyózi l’yu,

tvoyéy zashchíti umolyáyu,umolyáyu.

Voobrazí: ya zdyes odná!

Niktó menyá nye ponimáyet!

Rassúdok moy iznemogáyet,

i mólcha gíbnut’ ya dolzhná!

Ya zhdu tebyá, ya zhdu tebyá!

Yedínim slóvom

Nadyézhdi syérdtsa ozhiví,

il’ son tyazhóliy pererví,

uví, zaslúzhennim,

uví, zaslúzhennim ukórom!

Koncháyu! Stráshno perechést’

stidóm i strákhom zamiráyu

no mnye porúkoy vásha chest’.

I smyélo yey sebyá vveráyu!

 

 

[3]          Verdi: Don Carlo, Act V:

               Tu che le vanità

 

ELISABETTA

Tu che le vanità conoscesti del mondo

e godi nell’avel il riposo profondo,

se ancor si piange in cielo, piangi sul mio dolore,

e porta il pianto mio al trono del Signore.

 

Carlo qui verrà, sì!

Che parta e scordi omai...

A Posa di vegliar sui giorni suoi giurai.

Ei segua il suo destin, la gloria il traccierà.

Per me, la mia giornata a sera è giunta già!

O Francia, nobile suol, sì caro ai miei verd’anni!

Fontainebleau! ver voi schiude il pensiero, i vanni.

Eterno giuro d’amor là Dio da me ascoltò,

e quest’eternità un giorno solo durò.

Tra voi, vaghi giardin di questa terra d’Ibera,

se Carlo ancor dovrà fermar i passi a sera,

che le zolle, i ruscelli, i fonti,

i boschi, i fior,

con le loro armonie cantino il nostro amor.

Addio, bei sogni d’ôr, illusion perduta!

Il nodo si spezzò, la luce è fatta muta!

Addio, verd’anni, ancor! cedendo al duol crudel,

il core ha un sol desir: la pace dell’avel!

Tu che le vanità conoscesti del mondo

e godi nell’avel il riposo profondo,

se ancor si piange in cielo, piangi sul mio dolore,

e il tuo col pianto mio al trono del Signore,

e il tuo col pianto mio reca appié del Signor.

 

 

[4]          Verdi: Luisa Miller, Act II:

               Tu puniscimi, O Signore

 

LUISA

Tu puniscimi, o Signore,

se t’offesi e paga io sono

ma de’ barbari al furore

non lasciarmi in abbandono.

A scampar da fato estremo

innocente genitor

chieggon essi, a dirlo io fremo,

chieggon essi della figlia il disonor!

 

 

[5]          Verdi: Simon Boccanegra, Act I:

               Come in quest’ora bruna

 

AMELIA

Come in quest’ora bruna

sorridon gli astri e il mare!

Come s’unisce, o luna,

all’onda il tuo chiaror!

Amante amplesso pare

di due verginei cor!

Ma gli astri e la marina

che pingono alla mente

dell’orfana meschina?...

La notte atra, crudel,

quando la pia morente

sclamò: ti guardi il ciel.

O altero ostel, soggiorno

di stirpe ancor più altera,

il tetto disadorno

non obliai per te!...

Solo in tua pompa austera

amor sorride a me...

S’inalba il ciel, ma l’amoroso canto

non s’ode ancora!...

Ei mi terge.ogni dì, come l’aurora

la rugiada dei fior, del ciglio il pianto.

 

 

[6]          Bellini: Norma, Act I:

               Casta Diva

 

NORMA

Casta Diva, che inargenti

queste sacre antiche piante,

al noi volgi il bel sembiante,

senza nube e senza vel!

 

CORO

Casta Diva, che inargenti

queste sacre antiche piante,

al noi volgi il bel sembiante,

senza nube e senza vel!

 

NORMA

Tempra, o Diva,tempra tu de’ cori ardenti,

tempra ancora lo zelo audace.

spargi in terra quella pace

che regnar tu fai nel ciel.

 

CORO

Diva, spargi in terra

quella pace che regnar

tu fai nel ciel.

 

NORMA

Fine al rito.

E il sacro bosco

sia disgombro dai profani.

Quando il Nume irato e fosco

chiegga il sangue dei Romani,

dal druidico delubro

la mia voce tuonerà.

 

CORO

Tuoni,e un sol del popolo empio

non isfugga al giusto scempio;

e primier da noi percosso

il Proconsole cadrà.

 

NORMA

Cadrà! Punirlo io posso.

(Ma punirlo il cor non sa.)

(Ah! bello a me ritorna

del fido amor primiero,

e contro il mondo intiero

difesa a te sarò.

Ah! bello a me ritorna

del raggio tuo sereno

e vita nel tuo seno

e patria e cielo avrò.)

 

CORO

Ma irato, sì, il Dio t’affretta

che il Tebro condannò!

 

 

NORMA

(Ah! riedi ancora qual eri allora,

quando il cor ti diedi allora,

qual eri allor, ah, riedi a me!)

 

 

[7]          donizetti: Maria Stuarda, Act II:

O nube! che lieve per l’aria t’aggiri

 

MARIA STUARDA

O nube! che lieve per l’aria t’aggiri,

tu reca il mio affetto, tu reca i sospiri

al suolo beato che un dì mi nudrì.

Deh! scendi cortese,

m’accogli sui vanni,

mi rendi a quel suolo, m’invola agli affanni!

Ma cruda la nube pur essa fuggì

al suolo beato che un dì mi nudrì.

 

Nella pace del mesto riposo

vuol colpirmi di nuovo spavento.

Io la chiesi, e vederla non oso,

tal coraggio nell’alma non sento!

Resti, resti sul trono adorata,

il suo sguardo da me sia lontan,

troppo, troppo, son io disprezzata;

tace in tutti per me la pietà.

 

 

[8]          spontini: La Vestale, Act II:

O nume tutelar

 

GIULIA

O nume tutelar degl’infelici

Latona, odi i miei prieghi;

l’ultimo voto mio ti mova, o nume,

pria che al destino io soccomba,

fa che dalla mia tomba

s’allontani l’adorato oggetto

per cui morte m’attende.

 

 

[9]          verdi: Ernani, Act I:

Surta è la notte ... Ernani, involami

 

ELVIRA

Surta è la notte, e Silva non ritorna!

Ah, non tornasse ei più!

Questo odiato veglio,

che quale immondo spettro ognor m’insegue,

col favellar d’amore,

più sempre Ernani mi configge in core.

Ernani!... Ernani, involami

all’aborrito amplesso.

Fuggiamo... se teco vivere

mi sia d’amor concesso,

per antri e lande inospiti

ti seguirà il mio piè.

Un Eden di delizia

saran quegli antri a me.

 

Tutto sprezzo, che d’Ernani

non favella a questo core.

Non v’ha gemma che in amore

possa l’odio tramutar.

Vola, o tempo, e presto reca

di mia fuga il lieto istante,

vola, o tempo, al core amante

è supplizio l’indugiar.

 


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