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8.225825 - Opera Arias - MOZART, W.A. / GOUNOD, C.-F. (Liang Ning Sings Operatic Arias by Mozart and Gounod and Chinese Classics)
Liang Ning sings Operatic Arias by Mozart and Gounod and Chinese Classics
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus:
Mozart wrote his opera La Clemenza di Tito (The Clemency of Titus) in 1791, the last year of his life, for the coronation in Prague of Leopold II as King of Bohemia. The libretto was adapted from Metastasio and deals with the love of Vitellia, the deposed Emperor’s daughter, for Titus, his successor, and her plans to make revenge for his choice of consort.
The aria Non piu di fiori vaghe catene, with its basset-horn obbligato, forms a musical climax to the second act of the opera. Vitellia regrets that the goddess of marriage will not descend to scatter flowers, for cruel people hurry to put her to death. As the title of the opera suggests, those guilty of conspiracy against the Emperor are to receive final pardon, through his clemency.
Charles Gounod was one of the great 19th Century masters of operatic melody. Based on a play by Shakespeare, his setting of Roméo et Juliette was composed in 1865-67 with the help of the librettists Jules Barbier and Michel Carré. To make Shakespeare’s tragedy suitable for the lyric stage, much of it had to be cut; the result was that the two star-crossed lovers loomed even larger in the opera than they had in the play. In Act III, in a square before the Capulets’ palace, the Montague page Stephano, seeks Roméo, regretting that Juliet, beautiful as she is, should be in such a nest of vultures, a dove who will soon find freedom in love.
The opera Faust by the French composer Charles Gounod is perhaps the best known operatic transformation of Goethe’s drama. It was first performed in Paris in 1850. It drew particularly on the part of Faust’s story that concerns his relations with Gretchen or Marguerite.
Si le Bonheur: Even the comfort Siébel offers cannot help Marguerite getting over the sadness of her lover (Faust) not returning. He sings to her that he is happy when she is happy, and when she is sad, he weeps with her. He will always love her.
Faites-lui mes aveux: Siébel enters the garden, asking the flowers to be messengers for his love to Marguerite, but as he plucks a flower, it fades, the work of the sorcerer (Mèphistophélès) he has encountered. He picks a second flower, with the same result, and dips his hand into a stoup of holy water, on the wall of the house. Now the flowers do not wilt.
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus:
In Parto, parto, ma tub en mio, Sextus, Vitellia’s lover, agrees to Vitellia’s demands to murder his friend Tito, also the Roman Emperor. He sings that he will do anything for her beauty and love. The aria is accompanied by a solo basset clarinet, designed for Mozart’s friend the clarinettist Anton Stadler, a leading player of the time.
Kang Ding Love Song
Sichuan, known to gourmets for its highly spiced food, is in the west of China. Its name means “four rivers”. Kang Ding Love Song is arranged from a traditional Sichuan folksong.
Along the mountain footpath you can see beautiful clouds, near the town of Kang Ding. The crescent moon shines over the town, and the Lee family’s daughter is beautiful. She is loved by young Cheung. The music is romantic.
Under the Silver Moon
The Tartars, to give them their usual English name, form a small minority in Xinjiang. Under the Silver Moon is a Xinjiang folksong.
On the shore the bright moon is shining, and I try to remember the past. Everything is like a dream. Where are you hiding? My beloved has left me. I am riding towards her on a horse as fast as an arrow.
Sunset is taken from the Chinese opera She Died Alone, the love story of two intellectuals separated by circumstances, a composition of the 1980s. The singer expresses her dream of freedom in love.
The original Flower Shadow song was the work of the Song Dynasty scholar Jiang Baishi. The song was transcribed by Yang Yiliu.
Lullaby, a work typical of the period that has followed the Cultural Revolution, tells of a mother singing her child to sleep, while her husband is away, working with a scientific research team, a contemporary equivalent of earlier patriotic reasons for marital absence.
I live on the Shore of Yangtze River
Written in the 1920s and using a Song Dynasty text, I Live on the Shore of Yangtze River is a beautiful love song that tells the story of a lady living on the shore of the Yangtze River. She went out each day in the hope of meeting her lover who lived down the river, but her wait was long, and all she could do was ask the ceaselessly flowing waters when the longed-for encounter would be granted.
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