28. Opera Soiree
Redirection to the Place des Arts
This recital touches on three cornerstones of nineteenth-century opera: father-daughter relationships, romantic love, and, of course, parties! In “O mio babbino caro,” Gianni Schicchi’s daughter (successfully) implores him to help the Donati family, thereby enabling her marriage. Farewell aria “Ebben, ne andrò lontana” occurs after the title character, La Wally, has been banished by her father for refusing to marry the local baritone; she resolves to seek out some solitary mountain refuge. A contemporary of Puccini, Alfredo Catalani was closely associated with Italian Scapigliatura or bohemianism, which favoured the rugged natural settings and morbid linking of love and death found in La Wally.
As for love, Nadir’s romance from Les pêcheurs de perles recalls the enchanting voice of Hindu priestess Leïla; Don José’s passionate declaration of love for Carmen foreshadows his dangerous obsession; and the duet that stages Mimi and Rodolfo’s first kiss in La Bohème incorporates the Rodolfo motif from his earlier aria, “Che gelida manina.”
Two beloved numbers from La Traviata contrast Alfredo’s love with Violetta’s life of desperate pleasure and folly—one public drinking song and one private monologue. Two other party scenes embody libertinism and love, respectively. During the opening revels of Rigoletto, “Questa o quella” introduces the cynical, womanizing Duke of Mantua, while the two protagonists of The Merry Widow finally confess their affection for one another in “Lippen schweigen,” the quintessential Viennese operetta waltz.
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