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9.80001 - DEL MONACO, Mario: Italian Opera Arias for Tenor (1955)
Mario Del Monaco (1915-1982)
 Luisa Miller, based on Schiller's 1784 melodrama Kabale und Liebe (Intrigue and Love), tells of Luisa's love for Rodolfo, son of Count Walter, and the machinations of Walter to keep them apart to conceal the fact that he has come into his noble title through murder. Luisa's father is taken prisoner, and to save his life she writes a letter to Rodolfo under Walter's duress claiming that she in fact loves another. Convinced of Luisa's faithlessness, Rodolfo sings of his heartbreak in "Quando le sere al placido."
 In La fanciulla del west (The Girl of the Golden West), Puccini turned to the American writer David Belasco, whose play on the subject of Madame Butterfly had earlier impressed him. The story deals with the love of Minnie and Dick Johnson, alias Ramerrez, a bandit, rescued from hanging in the nick of time, but only after he has begged his executioners to let Minnie think he has gone free, in the aria "Ch'ella mi credi libero.".
 Manon Lescaut by Puccini, was one of a number of opera settings of Antoine-François Prévost's novel L'histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut. In Pucclini's version, the young Manon is desired by the student Des Grieux and the older Géronte, and although she first takes Des Grieux, she is tempted by Géronte to leave with him. Denouced to the authorities, she is imprisoned and sentenced to be transported. Des Grieux's impassioned "No! Pazzo son, guardate" is the vocal highlight here as he pleads with the ship's captain to let him accompany Manon into exile –Manon later dies in the desert outside New Orleans as they attempt to escape their captivity.
 In Turandot, Puccini took a fairy tale by Carlo Gozzi and turned it into high drama (other settings of this fairy tale turned it into a comedy). By imperial decree, Princess Turandot is to marry the first royal suitor able to answer her three riddles, failure leading to execution, a fate to be suffered by the Prince of Persia. Calaf resolves to try his chance with the cold-hearted Princess, although Ping, Pang and Pong and his father try to dissuade him. Here, Calaf urges the family's faithful slave Liù not to cry about his decision in "Non piangere, Liù".
 Giuseppe Verdi became the leading Italian composer of his generation, dominating Italian opera in the second half of the nineteenth century, from the success of Nabucco in 1842 to his final opera Falstaff in 1893. Aida, with a libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni from a scenario by the French egyptologist known as Mariette Bey, was written for the opening of the Cairo Opera House, where it received its first performance on Christmas Eve 1871. The drama concerns the love of the Egyptian general Radames for the Ethopian captive Aida, who is induced to betray him into divulging military plans against her country. Radames has been rewarded by the King for his victory in battle with the hand of the Princess Amneris, who loves him, and, learning of his love of Aida and his breach of military security, ensures his condemnation and death, in which he is joined by his beloved Aida. In his great aria "Celeste Aida," Radames, before the battle and victory, sings of his beloved Aida, whom he hopes to marry when he returns.
- The opera Tosca was first performed in Rome in 1900 and is based on a play by Victorien Sardou dealing with political intrigue, love and persecution by the vicious chief of police, Baron Scarpia. The artist Cavaradossi is seen at work on a church painting of Mary Magdalene, based on the beautiful singer Tosca, with whom he is in love. In "Recondita armonia" (Strange harmony of contrasts), he compares his painting with a miniature of Tosca herself. As the tragedy unwinds, Cavaradossi is imprisoned for his complicity in a liberal political plot and is condemned to death, a fate from which Tosca seeks to save him. In "E lucevan le stele" (The stars were shining), Cavaradossi, with one hour to live, recalls the past.
 Shakespeare exercised his own fascination over the romantic imagination. Verdi turned to his work on a number of occasions, above all in his final operas Otello and Falstaff. His version of Macbeth, with a libretto by Piave, is a much earlier work, first mounted in 1847 in Florence. Macduff, a Scottish nobleman, learns of the murder of his wife and children on the orders of the regicide Macbeth, and laments their fate in the romanza "Ah, la paterna mano."
 La traviata is an operatic treatment of the novel La dame aux camèlias ('The Lady of the Camelias') by Alexandre Dumas. The courtesan Violetta unselfishly gives up her young lover Alfredo, at the request of his father, and is only reconciled to him in her final death from consumption. In "De' miei bollenti spiriti"(From my fervent spirits) Alfredo sings of his happiness with Violetta, so soon to be brought to an end.
Leoncavallo's Pagliacci ('Players') and Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana ('Rustic Chivalry') are often coupled in a double bill. Both are examples of late nineteenth century verisma, operatic realism.
- Pagliacci is a story of love and jealousy, in which Canio, with his wife Nedda, member of a troupe of travelling players, learns of her infidelity, but is bound to don his clown's clothing and act his part, in spite of his feelings of anguish. In "Vesti la giubba" he expresses his feelings, which in the course of the performance will lead to the death of Nedda and her lover. In the second act, Canio overhears his wife speaking to another man and while on stage confronts her. Nedda tries to continue her part and assures him that it was the timid, harmless Arlecchino who was with her. Canio, though, accuses her of infidelity and demands the name of her lover or her life, but she refuses to tell him, as the audience begins to realise that the scene is real, not acting. Canio seizes a knife from the table, as Nedda tries to escape among the audience. Canio seizes her and strikes her with the knife. As she falls, she calls on Silvio for help. He cries out and is stabbed to the heart by Canio. Disarmed by the audience, Canio declares that the play is over — La commedia è finita.
- In Cavalleria rusticana ('Rustic Chivalry'), is another tale of infidelity and death. In a Sicilian village it is Easter Sunday. Santuzza's former lover Turiddu is in love with Lola, Alfio's wife. Santuzza seeks revenge by telling Alfio of Lola's unfaithfulness and he kills Turiddu in a fight, after the latter has left Santuzza in the charge of his mother. In this aria, "Viva il vino spumeggiante," set in a happier time in the opera, Turiddu suggests that his friends and neighbours should join him in a drink and sings a drinking-song. He drinks to Lola's admirers, and she responds by drinking to his good fortune. At the end of the opera, as he sets off for his fatal duel with Alfio, Turiddu, in Mamma, il vino è generoso begs his mother to look after Santuzza, when he is dead.
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