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9.80002 - SIEPI, Cesare: Great Operatic Arias (1955)

Cesare Siepi (b. 1923)
Great Operatic Arias

[01] Don Carlo, Act IV: Introduction and Scene: Ella giammai m'amo
[02] Nabucco, Act II: Scene and Prayer: Vieni, a Levita! - Tu sul labbro
[03] Ernani, Act I: Scene and Aria: Che mai vegg'oi - Infelice! E tu credevi …

[04] Salvator Rosa, Act II: Di sposo, di padre le gioie serene

[05] Simon Boccanegra, Prologue: Il lacerato spirito

[06] Les Huguenots, Act I: Seigneur, rampart et seul soutien, "Chorale de Luther"
[07] Les Huguenots, Act I: Piff paff
[08] Robert le diable, Act III: Nonnes qui reposez

[09] La Juive, Act I: Si la rigueur et la vengeance


[1] Don Carlo is a tragic story of the competition of a father and son for the hand of the same woman, all of this complicated by the fact that the father is the King of Spain and his (and his son's) intended is the daughter of the King of France. Although he marries Elizabeth, King Philip realizes that his young bride's heart lies elsewhere, and in "Ella giammai m'amo," a complex emotional aria, he moves from self-pity to somber thought about his loss.

[2] Nabucco was Verdi's first great success, marking the real start of his career, after which commission after commission came his way. In addition to the strong impression given in its music, the choice of subject itself fitted well enough the political circumstances of contemporary Italy, then largely under foreign domination. The scene and prayer, "Vieni, a Levita! - Tu sul labbro," are from the second part of the opera where Zaccaria, the High Priest of the Hebrews, prays for the ability to convert the Assyrians.

[3] In their mountain encampment Ernani tells his fellow- bandits of his love for Elvira, whom he plans to abduct. She, in turn, loves Ernani, but is also loved by the King; his attempt, in disguise, to drag her away intercepted by Ernani, then joined by Don Ruy Gomez da Silva. Here, Silva's "Che mai vegg'oi - Infelice! E tu credevi …"  marks his recognition of the King in disquise as he intercedes in Ernani's planned fight.

[4] The Brazilian composer Carlos Gomes was a successful composer in Brazil when he was awarded a government grant to go to Italy in 1866. He spent the majority of his life in Italy and his work became so identified with Italy and imbued with Italian style that he's now considered among the lists of Italian composers rather than Brazilian. Salvator Rosa is set in Naples at a time when the Italians were trying to throw off their Spanish rulers. In the aria "Di sposo, di padre le gioie serene," the Spanish viceroy sings of the contrast between his apparent power in Naples and own subjugation to the Spanish king.

[5] Simon Boccanegra is another tragedy of love lost and found. The opera opens with a prologue set 25 years before the opera proper; Boccanegra has married Maria, the daughter of the current Doge of Genoa, Fiesco. Maria dies in childbirth and in the aria "Il lacerato spirito" Fiesco mourns the death of his daughter.

[6]-[7] An important example of French grand opera, Les Huguenots is characteristic of the genre in its grandiose conception and its serious treatment of a historical religious conflict. At a banquet at the château of the Count de Nevers, Raoul is among the guests, with his staunch Huguenot servant Marcel. Marcel's Lutheran hymn "Seigneur, rampart et seul soutien," (better known as "A Mighty Fortress is our God") and Raoul's Huguenot battle-narrative, a Huguenot account of Catholic discomfiture at the siege of La Rochelle, "Piff, paff," merely amuse the Catholic guests.

[8] Spectacular in its effects, Giacomo Meyerbeer's Robert le diable (Robert the Devil) won wide popularity. Staged first at the Paris Opéra in 1831, this grand opéra is based on a Norman legend. The Norman Duke of the title is tempted to evil by his friend Bertram, who, in the third act, set in a dark, misty countryside, calls on nuns from their deserted cloister to rise from their graves and to help him in his task of luring Robert, through promise of pleasures, to seize the magic branch, an act of sacrilege that will re-unite him with his beloved Isabelle. The opera ends with Bertram, seducer of Robert's mother and hence his father, swallowed by the earth, as Robert finds Isabelle once more. The excerpt here, "Nonnes qui reposez," is where Bertram summons the dead nuns to help him to tempt Robert.

[9] La Juive (The Jewess) is the first of Halévy's grand operas and the one by which he is chiefly remembered as a composer. In "Si la rigueur et la vengeance" Cardinal Brogni shows mercy to Eleazar and Rachel.


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