Friday, August 10, 2012

Preview: Together again, and all's right with the world -- more or less

Father and daughter reunited: Plácido Domingo (playing baritone) as Simon Boccanegra and Maria Poplavskaya as Maria at Covent Garden, 2010

by Ken

This week and (probably) next week we're going to poke around two scenes I've had it in mind to present as long as we've been doing Sunday Classics, scenes whose power over me undoubtedly exceeds anything I'll be able to explain.

Tonight we're going to preview just the moments of recognition, and we're going to start with even more stripped-down versions.

1. Simon Boccanegra recognizes his long-lost daughter
MARIA BOCCANEGRA: Ah! Clasp to your breast Maria, who loves you!
SIMON BOCCANEGRA [simultaneously]: Ah! daughter my heart calls you!
[Orchestral outburst]
SIMON: Daughter, daughter my heart calls you!

Leo Nucci (b), Simon Boccanegra; Kiri Te Kanawa (s), Maria Boccanegra; Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala, Sir Georg Solti, cond. Decca, recorded December 1988

2. Elektra recognizes her long-exiled (and presumed-dead) brother
ELEKTRA: Orest!
[Orchestral outburst]

Birgit Nilsson (s), Elektra; Vienna Philharmonic, Georg Solti, cond. Decca, recorded 1966-67


AS NOTED, WE'RE GOING TO BE POKING
AROUND THESE TWO RECOGNITION SCENES --

which I've had it in mind to present as long as we've been doing Sunday Classics.




Sister and brother reunited: Susan Bullock as Elektra and Yevgeny Nikitin as Orest at the Met, 2009


Here are the promised somewhat-less-stripped-down versions of our scenes --



1. Simon Boccanegra recognizes his long-lost daughter

VERDI: Simon Boccanegra: Act I, Scene 1, Boccanegra, "Maria!"; Amelia, "Il nome mio!" ("My name!")
SIMON BOCCANEGRA, the Plebeian doge of Genoa, has come calling on the young Patrician woman known as AMELIA GRIMALDI to persuade her to agree to marry his loathsome henchman PAOLO ALBIANI. She startles him with information about her personal history which gradually makes him realize she's someone he hasn't seen since she was abducted when she was a small child.

SIMON BOCCANEGRA: Maria!
"AMELIA GRIMALDI": My name!
SIMON BOCCANEGRA: You are my daughter!
"AMELIA GRIMALDI": I?
SIMON BOCCANEGRA: Embrace me, o my daughter!
MARIA BOCCANEGRA: Father! Ah! Clasp to your breast Maria, who loves you!
SIMON BOCCANEGRA [simultaneously]: Ah! daughter my heart calls you!
[Orchestral outburst]
SIMON B: Daughter, daughter my heart calls you!
MARIA B: Clasp to your breast Maria, who loves you!

Leo Nucci (b), Simon Boccanegra; Kiri Te Kanawa (s), "Amelia Grimaldi"; Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala, Sir Georg Solti, cond. Decca, recorded December 1988

Tito Gobbi (b), Simon Boccanegra; Leyla Gencer (s), "Amelia Grimaldi"; Vienna Philharmonic, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, cond. Live performance from the Salzburg Festival, Aug. 9, 1961 (mono)


2. Elektra recognizes her long-exiled (and presumed-dead) brother

R. STRAUSS: Elektra, Op. 58: Elektra, "Wer bist denn du?" ("Who then are you?")
Since the murder of her father, Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, at the hands of her mother, KLYTÄMNESTRA, and her lover, AEGISTH, the princess ELEKTRA has been subjected to unimaginable physical and psychological abuse by her mother and stepfather, and has lived only for the mysteriously and horrendously delayed return of her brother OREST, to join in avenging the death of their father. Now word has come to the palace of the death of OREST, and two strangers have arrived to provide confirming details. ELEKTRA, having accepted the unimaginably horrible news with the greatest reluctance, is now tormented by the presence of one of the strangers, waiting to be summoned to the palace to provide his witness. In this scene the STRANGER has been horrified to realize gradually the identify of this wretched creature, long before she has any glimmering of who he is.

ELEKTRA [struck by the STRANGER's tone]: Who then are you?
[The gloomy old servant, followed by three other servants, rushes in silently from the courtyard, prostrates himself before the STRANGER, kisses his feet, the others his hands and the hem of his garment.]
ELEKTRA [almost beside herself]: Who are you then? I am frightened.
STRANGER [gently]: The dogs in the courtyard recognize me,
[more intense] but my sister -- not!
ELEKTRA [crying out suddenly]: Orest!
[Orchestral outburst]
ELEKTRA [very softly, trembling]: Orest! Orest! Orest!

Alessandra Marc (s), Elektra; Samuel Ramey (bs), Orest; Vienna Philharmonic, Giuseppe Sinopoli, cond. DG, recorded September 1995

Birgit Nilsson (s), Elektra; Tom Krause (b), Orest; Vienna Philharmonic, Georg Solti, cond. Decca, recorded 1966-67


IN THIS WEEK'S SUNDAY CLASSSICS POST

We're going to take a longer listen to one of these scenes. I think I know which, but I won't know for sure till, well, it happens. (But if your bookie offers you decent odds on Elektra, you might want to go with that.)

UPDATE: Elektra it is.

2ND UPDATE: Simon Boccanegra has its turn the following week -- preview and main post.
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