Sunday, January 27, 2013

Verdi's King Philip -- a man in crisis

On 78s, to fit on a single side, Philip's monologue was often begun at "Dormirò sol nel manto mio regal," as in the case of this classic recording Ezio Pinza made for Victor on Feb. 17, 1927.
KING PHILIP: I will only sleep in my royal mantle,
when I have attained the evening of my days.
I will only sleep beneath the black vault,
I will sleep beneath the black vault
there in my tomb in the Escurial!

If only the royal crown gave me the power
to read in hearts what God alone can see!
Ah, if only the royal crown &c.

[Spoken in half voice]
If the prince sleeps, the traitor is standing watch.
The king will lose his crown, the husband his honor.

I will only sleep in my royal mantle
when I have attained the evening of my days.
I will only sleep beneath the black vault,
I will sleep beneath the black vault
there in my tomb in the Escurial!

Ah, if only the royal crown gave me the power
to read in hearts!

[Long silence]
She never loved me.
No, that heart is closed to me.
She doesn't love me, she doesn't love me.

by Ken

Yes, yes, Sunday Classics is on hiatus. Nevertheless, Friday night we began focusing on the great monologue of King Philip II in his study from the next-to-last act of Verdi's Don Carlos. And we began by spotlighting a couple of passages from the monologue, which I'd never had the opportunity to have listeners listen to together.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Preview: "I still see her looking in silence at my white hair" -- King Philip in "Don Carlos"

Ferruccio Furlanetto as King Philip in his study in Don Carlos at the Met
Io la rivedo ancor, contemplar triste in volto
il mio crin bianco il dì che qui di Francia venne.
No, amor per me non ha, amor per me non ha.

I still see her again, contemplating with a sad look
my white mane the day that she came here from France.
No, she doesn't love me, she doesn't love me.

Jerome Hines (bs), King Philip II; Orchestra of the Teatro Colón (Buenos Aires), Fernando Previtali, cond. Live performance, Sept. 2, 1962

Ferruccio Furlanetto (bs), King Philip II; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, James Levine, cond. Sony, recorded Apr.-May 1992

by Ken

Yes, yes, I know Sunday Classics is supposed to be on hiatus. Let's just call this a hiatus from the hiatus. We've got stuff to deal with, even while I plow ahead with the laborious task of importing Sunday Classics posts into the new stand-alone "Sunday Classics with Ken" blog at (At last count we were all the way back to July 2012!)

To get back to it, here is the same passage from Don Carlos which we just heard in the standard Italian translation, only now in the original French, which, let me remind you, is the only language Verdi ever worked on this opera in. In the bits of it we're going to be hearing tonight, the differences aren't enormous sense-wise, but I've included the originals so you have a chance to see how much more naturally the syntax flows in the French.
Je la revois encor, regardant en silence
mes cheveux blancs le jour qu'elle arriva de France.
Non, elle ne m'aime pas, elle ne m'aime pas.

I still see her again, looking in silence at
my white hair the day that she arrived from France.
No, she doesn't love me, she doesn't love me.

José van Dam (bs-b), King Philip II; Orchestre de Paris, Antonio Pappano, cond. EMI, recorded live at the Théâtre du Châtelet (Paris), Mar. 10-16, 1996


The thing is, this week I helped a friend sort through and arrange his CD collection, making it possible to pull the stuff he had duplicated. As a result I came away with a pile of stuff that I didn't have, which included this broadcast performance of King Philip's monologue by Jerome Hines from Buenos Aires's Teatro Colón. And as it happens . . . .

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Classics chronicles: Music vs. words -- in "Capriccio," the Countess makes her choice

Kiri Te Kanawa as the Countess sings Flamand's setting of Olivier's sonnet in the Final Scene of Richard Strauss's Capriccio in San Francisco, with Donald Runnicles conducting, in 1993.

by Ken

As I mentioned Friday night, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, the Countess of the 1960 Vienna performance of Capriccio we've been sampling, first recorded the opera's Final Scene in 1953 for an EMI LP that also included her first recording of Strauss's Four Last Songs. In 1957-58 she sang the role in EMI's premiere commercial recording of the opera, conducted by the young Wolfgang Sawallisch. Here's the 1953 recording.

R. STRAUSS: Capriccio, Op. 85: Final Scene: Countess, "Morgen Mittag um elf" ("Tomorrow morning at 11")
We'll have full texts later. This synopsis comes from Pacifica Opera Victoria's Capriccio study guide.

It is evening and the moon has risen. The Countess enters. The major-domo tells her that Olivier will meet her to discuss the ending of the opera -- the next morning at eleven, in the library. She is alarmed, realizing that Flamand will be disappointed to find Olivier in the library instead of her.

And as for me, she wonders, I’m supposed to determine the opera's ending ... Is it the words that move my heart or the music that speaks more strongly?

She sings the sonnet, interrupting herself partway through: It's fruitless to try to separate them. Words and music are fused into one ... One art redeemed by the other!

Regarding herself in a mirror, she asks herself what to do. In choosing the one, you will lose the other. Doesn't one always lose when one wins?

Again she asks the Madeleine in the mirror, Do you want to be consumed between two fires? You mirrored image of Madeleine in love -- can you advise me, can you help me find the ending, the ending for their opera? Is there one that is not trivial?

The major-domo announces that supper is served; Madeleine smiles at the mirror and walks into the dining room, humming the sonnet.

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (s), Countess Madeleine; Philharmonia Orchestra, Otto Ackermann, cond. EMI, recorded Sept. 26, 1953


Friday, January 18, 2013

Sunday Classics chronicles: Revisiting Richard Strauss's "Capriccio"

R. STRAUSS: Capriccio, Op. 85: Introduction (Sextet)

Vienna State Opera Orchestra members, Karl Böhm, cond. Live performance, May 15, 1960

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra members, Clemens Krauss, cond. Broadcast performance, 1953

Vienna Philharmonic members, Ulf Schirmer, cond. Decca, recorded December 1993

Members of the Southwest German Radio (SWR) Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart, 
Georges Prêtre, cond. Forlane, recorded live in Mannheim, May 29-31, 1999

by Ken

As I mentioned last week, I have begun the arduous process of importing the Sunday Classics posts into a stand-alone blog "Sunday Classics with Ken" blog (at After a week or more or frenetic activity (well, it felt frenetic), working my way backwards from December 2012, I've already reached . . . July 2012! New (old) posts continue to be added daily, two or sometimes even four at a time. Okay, not daily exactly. More like some days.

It's indescribably grueling work, so I won't try to describe it. But it's also fun of a sort, or different sorts, walking back through Sunday Classics time. And it occurred to me that, even while Sunday Classics itself is on hiatus, issues are bound to come up which may be suitable for a subseries we might call "Sunday Classics chornicles."

Starting this week with my realization that I told an unintentional untruth. In presenting a couple of tidbits from the mammoth Berkshire Record Outlet order I placed recently, I included excerpts from a 1953 Munich broadcast performance of Richard Strauss's last opera Capriccio, conducted by the opera's librettist, Clemens Krauss. And it's true that I had been listening to some of that performance. But it suddenly occurred to me that that was "spinoff" listening, that the "new" Capriccio performance was a 1960 Vienna State Opera broadcast conducted by Karl Böhm.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday Classics goes on hiatus (continued)

Tenor Michel Sénéchal (born 1927 and apparently still with us), whom
we're going to hear sing, of all things, Mahler -- and something else

by Ken

As I wrote Friday night in connection with this hiatus Sunday Classics has chosen to go on, a happy surprise for me in beginning to tinker with the heap of hundreds and hundreds of posts that have by now accumulated was the discovery that by golly there really and truly is a heap of wonderful music buried in that heap. This at least slightly undercuts the feeling I generally have when one of these posts is sent out into the ether (beyond the feeling "Thank goodness that's done, or done-ish"), which is "What the [expletive deleted] was the point of that?"

Sharing a lot of music that I love was the basic point of the enterprise -- that and helping people approach it, especially (ideally) people who for whatever reason have been shy about listening. I try like the dickens not to try to tell people how they should listen, because my feeling is that the whole deal with listening is precisely each individual working out his/herself how to listen, and hear. The best I thought I could do was to provide some clues based on my own habits of listening -- that and perhaps providing a nudge and a maybe little courage, and a glimmering of some of the rewards that lie in store.

For the time being, as I also mentioned Friday night, I want to focus on getting that heap of stuff accessible in the form of a stand-alone blog (at, which I've only just begun doing. (At some point I reckon we'll add a button or some kind of link thingie here on DWT.) I won't bore you with the heap of difficulties involved in this project -- or the even more fierce, and tedious, difficulties involved in the parallel project of updating the index that would provide some sort of overall access to the material, which sputtered and stalled as of July 11, 2010. I myself have spent more time than I care to admit yahoo-ing for links to old posts. What's worse is that I keep finding indications that over these last four to five years there have been posts of which I have no ready recall at all.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Sunday Classics goes on hiatus

The "Moonlight Interlude" from Richard Strauss's last opera, Capriccio, is played here by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under the composer's friend Clemens Krauss, who happened also to be the librettist of the opera. It's from a complete Munich broadcast performance of Capriccio from 1953.

by Ken

As TV savants know, this is not usually a good thing, when a program goes -- or more properly is sent -- on hiatus, a domain from which only the select few spectacles return, except perhaps for the run-off of previously unaired but already-paid-for episodes during times when nobody is expecting to be watching anyway.

Some other time maybe I'll talk about some of the thinking (for want of a better word) that has gone into this development. For now, though, my concern, is the mass of Sunday Classics material that's already floating around on servers somewhere. I haven't actually tried to count, but between previews and main posts, that's two posts a week (or actually, for the period when I usually did two previews, three) going back to early 2009, which adds up to . . . um, a heap.

So to anyone who cares, I offer a sneak peek at something I've begun putting together at the link So far all I've done is gather posts working backward from the final post in December all the way to, um, late October. And while I can report that I've also started compiling an index to posts, aimed at eventual incorporation with the old Sunday Classics Index that covered posts through July 11, 2010, at present it doesn't yet go back as far as October 2012. (In fact I haven't even posted it yet.)

One thing I can say is that in just the bit of work (or play) I've done so far with this bewildering mass of, er, stuff, I was kind of tickled to discover that there's a huge amount of really fabulous music here, and with a decent pair of headphones plugged into just the electronics of my home and office Macs, it sounds to me pretty darned good.

For tonight I thought I would add a couple of tidbits derived from that mammoth Berkshire Record Outlet order I mentioned receiving last month. Oh, I know! We'll do one bitty tid tonight, and then a slightly more extended one on Sunday. (Friday night-Sunday morning -- force of habit.)