Friday, June 21, 2013

Preview: You know who this famous tenor is, and what he's singing, right?

There's a tear in your eye,
and I'm wondering why,
for it never should be there at all.
With such pow'r in your smile,
sure a stone you'd beguile,
so there's never a teardrop should fall.
When your sweet lilting laughter's
like some fairy song,
and your eyes twinkle bright as can be,
you should laugh all the while
and all other times smile,
and now smile a smile for me. . . .

by Ken

In the cruelly aborted audio clip above, everyone knows what's coming next, right? After all, it is perhaps the signature song of this great tenor. And a great tenor he indisputably was; we're going to hear a couple of other selections in a moment.


The selection comes from a five-LP RCA Victor reissue set called Ten Great Singers, from about 1960, with one side devoted to each of the ten. My copy is incredibly beat up, which reflects not just its age but the fact that it got taken out and played from a lot over the earlier years of my listening. (I honestly don't recall whether I had anything to do with its acquisition. It may simply have been one of the few classical items in the family LP collection, since my mother had been an opera fan. I may just have appropriated it when I began collecting -- heck, I was the only one listening to the stuff.)

Anyway, if you'd care to try to guess who the "Ten Great Singers" in this c1960 historical anthology were, I can tell you that the male-female distribution is even, and breaks down to: 5 sopranos, 3 tenors, 1 baritone, and 1 bass. And while they were indeed all Victor artists, that doesn't narrow it down for you all that much.

Now I promised you would hear a little more of our featured artist. Let's start with an aria we've heard a lot, most recently here.

DONIZETTI: L'Elisir d'amore: Act II, Aria, Nemorino, "Una furtiva lagrima" ("A furtive tear")
A furtive tear
welled up in her eye.
Those carefree girls
she seemed to envy.
Why should I look any further?
She loves me, yes, she loves me.
I can see it, I can see it.

To feel for just one moment
the beating of her dear heart!
To blend my sighs
for a little with hers!
Heavens, I could die;
I ask for nothing more.
I could die of love.
-- English translation by Kenneth Chalmers

Now here's an English-language version of a lovely Rachmaninoff song.

RACHMANINOFF: "O cease thy singing, maiden fair," Op. 4, No. 4 (in English)


The answers, of course, and more music.

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