Sunday, May 25, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics: A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste Dept. -- Two operatic heroines, part 1

In Act II of Verdi's La Forza del destino, Leonora (Jennifer Maines) meets the kindly Padre Guardiano (Marek M. Gasztecki), at Innsbruck's Landestheater, September 2013.

by Ken
Another ghost-of-a-post idea, and one that may require some eventual fleshing-out. It was born of conjoined images from two different operas that suddenly started playing together in my head. And the "ghost" theme is actually appropriate, since it happens that both of the operatic heroines of our post title is that both have been seeing, er, fantastmi, as our Heroine No. 1, Verdi's Donna Leonora di Vargas from La Forza del destino, puts it.


We've actually heard this before, at some length. in the May 2011 post "Verdi's Forza demonstrates from start to finish what only opera can do." Donna Leonora, held responsible for the death of her father, the Marquis of Calatrava, the night she attempted to elope with her beloved Don Alvaro, has fled her home in Seville, eventually winding up at the mountain monastery of Hornachuelos, where she throws herself at the mercy of its superior, the kindly Padre Guardiano. When he finds out who she is, he recoils at first, then shows her the first human kindness she has received since her father's death, and what we hear from her in this release of pent-up tension rather terrifies me.

VERDI: La Forza del destino, Act II, Scene 2: Leonora, "PiĆ¹ tranquillo l'alma sento" ("I feel my soul more tranquil")
LEONORA: I feel my soul more tranquil
since I tread this ground.
The fearful phantasms
I no longer feel making war against me.
No longer does my father's shade
rise bleeding before me,
nor do I hear him, terrible,
cursing his daughter.

Maria Caniglia (s), Donna Leonora di Vargas; EIAR Turin Symphony Orchestra, Gino Marinuzzi, cond. Fonit Cetra, broadcast performance, 1941

Renata Tebaldi (s), Donna Leonora di Vargas; Orchestra of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia (Rome), Francesco Molinari-Pradelli, cond. Decca, recorded summer 1955

Leontyne Price (s), Donna Leonora di Vargas; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Francesco Molinari-Pradelli, cond. Live performance, March 9, 1968

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics: Why the heck are Mary Martin and John Raitt singing "There's No Business Like Show Business"?

A cheery thought from Roz Chast in the May 12 New Yorker

IRVING BERLIN: Annie, Get Your Gun: Overture and "There's No Business Like Show Business" (plus "They Say It's Wonderful")

Mary Martin (Annie Oakley), John Raitt (Frank Butler), 1957 NBC TV Cast ensemble. Capitol-EMI

There lived a king, as I've been told,
In the wonder-working days of old,
When hearts were twice as good as gold,
And twenty times as mellow.
Good temper triumphed in his face,
And in his heart he found a place
For all the erring human race
And every wretched fellow.
-- the Grand Inquisitor, in Act II of The Gondoliers

by Ken

In the end it was all the Gilmore Girls' fault. Maybe not "all," but for sure some, especially in that "end." Yesterday I had this idea for a Sunday Classics post. On the bus heading upstate when there wasn't going to be any time to write. I was already on the bus for my daylong Wolfe Walkers trip up the Hudson with Justin Ferate, to several fascinating Hudson River destinations he'd cunningly stitched together, I found myself hearing Leporell's great catalogue aria from Mozart's Don Giovanni, which we'd listened to just last Novermber.

You recall: