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Giacomo Puccini
 
 
 
 
Giacomo Puccini, in full Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini (born December 22, 1858, Lucca, Tuscany [Italy]—died November 29, 1924, Brussels, Belgium), Italian composer, one of the greatest exponents of operatic realism, who virtually brought the history of Italian opera to an end. His mature operas include La Bohème (1896), Tosca (1900), Madama Butterfly (1904), and Turandot, left incomplete.

Early life and marriage
Puccini was the last descendant of a family that for two centuries had provided the musical directors of the Cathedral of San Martino in Lucca. Puccini initially dedicated himself to music, therefore, not as a personal vocation but as a family profession. He was orphaned at the age of five by the death of his father, and the municipality of Lucca supported the family with a small pension and kept the position of cathedral organist open for Giacomo until he came of age. He first studied music with two of his father’s former pupils, and he played the organ in small local churches. A performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida, which he saw in Pisa in 1876, convinced him that his true vocation was opera. In the autumn of 1880 he went to study at the Milan Conservatory, where his principal teachers were Antonio Bazzini, a famous violinist and composer of chamber music, and Amilcare Ponchielli, the composer of the opera La gioconda. On July 16, 1883, he received his diploma and presented as his graduation composition Capriccio sinfonico, an instrumental work that attracted the attention of influential musical circles in Milan. In the same year, he entered Le villi in a competition for one-act operas. The judges did not think Le villi worthy of consideration, but a group of friends, led by the composer-librettist Arrigo Boito, subsidized its production, and its premiere took place with immense success at Milan’s Verme Theatre on May 31, 1884. Le villi was remarkable for its dramatic power, its operatic melody, and, revealing the influence of Richard Wagner’s works, the important role played by the orchestra. The music publisher Giulio Ricordi immediately acquired the copyright, with the stipulation that the opera be expanded to two acts. He also commissioned Puccini to write a new opera for La Scala and gave him a monthly stipend: thus began Puccini’s lifelong association with Giulio Ricordi, who was to become a staunch friend and counselor.

After the death of his mother, Puccini fled from Lucca with a married woman, Elvira Gemignani. Finding in their passion the courage to defy the truly enormous scandal generated by their illegal union, they lived at first in Monza, near Milan, where a son, Antonio, was born. In 1890 they moved to Milan, and in 1891 to Torre del Lago, a fishing village on Lake Massaciuccoli in Tuscany. This home was to become Puccini’s refuge from life, and he remained there until three years before his death, when he moved to Viareggio. But living with Elvira proved difficult. Tempestuous rather than compliant, she was justifiably jealous and was not an ideal companion. The two were finally able to marry in 1904, after the death of Elvira’s husband. Puccini’s second opera, Edgar, based on a verse drama by the French writer Alfred de Musset, had been performed at La Scala in 1889, and it was a failure. Nevertheless, Ricordi continued to have faith in his protégé and sent him to Bayreuth in Germany to hear Wagner’s Die Meistersinger.



Giacomo Puccini, 1908.
 

Mature work and fame
Puccini returned from Bayreuth with the plan for Manon Lescaut, based, like the Manon of the French composer Jules Massenet, on the celebrated 18th-century novel by the Abbé Prévost. Beginning with this opera, Puccini carefully selected the subjects for his operas and spent considerable time on the preparation of the librettos. The psychology of the heroine in Manon Lescaut, as in succeeding works, dominates the dramatic nature of Puccini’s operas. Puccini, in sympathy with his public, was writing to move them so as to assure his success. The score of Manon Lescaut, dramatically alive, prefigures the operatic refinements achieved in his mature operas: La Bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and La fanciulla del west (1910; The Girl of the Golden West). These four mature works also tell a moving love story, one that centres entirely on the feminine protagonist and ends in a tragic resolution. All four speak the same refined and limpid musical language of the orchestra that creates the subtle play of thematic reminiscences. The music always emerges from the words, indissolubly bound to their meaning and to the images they evoke. In Bohème, Tosca, and Butterfly, he collaborated enthusiastically with the writers Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. The first performance (February 17, 1904) of Madama Butterfly was a fiasco, probably because the audience found the work too much like Puccini’s preceding operas. For a 1908 recording of Emma Eames singing “Vissi d’arte” from Tosca, see Emma Eames.

In 1908, having spent the summer in Cairo, the Puccinis returned to Torre del Lago, and Giacomo devoted himself to Fanciulla. Elvira unexpectedly became jealous of Doria Manfredi, a young servant from the village who had been employed for several years by the Puccinis. She drove Doria from the house threatening to kill her. Subsequently, the servant girl poisoned herself, and her parents had the body examined by a physician, who declared her a virgin. The Manfredis brought charges against Elvira Puccini for persecution and calumny, creating one of the most famous scandals of the time. Elvira was found guilty, but through the negotiations of the lawyers was not sentenced, and Puccini paid damages to the Manfredis, who withdrew their accusations. Eventually the Puccinis adjusted themselves to a coexistence, but the composer from then on demanded absolute freedom of action.

The premiere of La fanciulla del west took place at the Metropolitan in New York City on December 10, 1910, with Arturo Toscanini conducting. It was a great triumph, and with it Puccini reached the end of his mature period. He admitted “writing an opera is difficult.” For one who had been the typical operatic representative of the turn of the century, he felt the new century advancing ruthlessly with problems no longer his own. He did not understand contemporary events, such as World War I. In 1917 at Monte-Carlo in Monaco, Puccini’s opera La rondine was first performed and then was quickly forgotten.

Always interested in contemporary operatic compositions, Puccini studied the works of Claude Debussy, Richard Strauss, Arnold Schoenberg, and Igor Stravinsky. From this study emerged Il trittico (The Triptych; New York City, 1918), three stylistically individual one-act operas—the melodramatic Il tabarro (The Cloak), the sentimental Suor Angelica, and the comic Gianni Schicchi. His last opera, based on the fable of Turandot as told in the play Turandot by the 18th-century Italian dramatist Carlo Gozzi, is the only Italian opera in the Impressionistic style. Puccini did not complete Turandot, unable to write a final grand duet on the triumphant love between Turandot and Calaf. Suffering from cancer of the throat, he was ordered to Brussels for surgery, and a few days afterward he died with the incomplete score of Turandot in his hands.

Turandot was performed posthumously at La Scala on April 25, 1926, and Arturo Toscanini, who conducted the performance, concluded the opera at the point Puccini had reached before dying. Two final scenes were completed by Franco Alfano from Puccini’s sketches.

Solemn funeral services were held for Puccini at La Scala in Milan, and his body was taken to Torre del Lago, which became the Puccini Pantheon. Shortly afterward, Elvira and Antonio were also buried there. The Puccini house became a museum and an archive.



Giacomo Puccini
 

Accomplishments
The majority of Puccini’s operas illustrate a theme defined in Il tabarro: “Chi ha vissuto per amore, per amore si morì” (“He who has lived for love, has died for love”). This theme is played out in the fate of his heroines—women who are devoted body and soul to their lovers, are tormented by feelings of guilt, and are punished by the infliction of pain until in the end they are destroyed. In his treatment of this theme, Puccini combines compassion and pity for his heroines with a strong streak of sadism: hence the strong emotional appeal but also the restricted scope of the Puccinian type of opera.

The main feature of Puccini’s musicodramatic style is his ability to identify himself with his subject; each opera has its distinctive ambience. With an unfailing instinct for balanced dramatic structure, Puccini knew that an opera is not all action, movement, and conflict; it must also contain moments of repose, contemplation, and lyricism. For such moments he invented an original type of melody, passionate and radiant, yet marked by an underlying morbidity; examples are the “farewell” and “death” arias that also reflect the persistent melancholy from which he suffered in his personal life.

Puccini’s approach to dramatic composition is expressed in his own words: “The basis of an opera is its subject and its treatment.” The fashioning of a story into a moving drama for the stage claimed his attention in the first place, and he devoted to this part of his work as much labour as to the musical composition itself. The action of his operas is uncomplicated and self-evident, so that the spectator, even if he does not understand the words, readily comprehends what is taking place on the stage.

Puccini’s conception of diatonic melody is rooted in the tradition of 19th-century Italian opera, but his harmonic and orchestral style indicate that he was also aware of contemporary developments, notably the work of the Impressionists and of Stravinsky. Though he allowed the orchestra a more active role, he upheld the traditional vocal style of Italian opera, in which the singers carry the burden of the music. In many ways a typical fin de siècle artist, Puccini nevertheless can be ranked as the greatest exponent of operatic realism.

Claudio Sartori

Encyclopædia Britannica
 
 

Giacomo Puccini, 1908
 
 
 
Puccini wrote orchestral pieces, sacred music, chamber music and songs for voice and piano, most notably his 1880 mass Messa di gloria and his 1890 string quartet Crisantemi. However, he is primarily known for his operas:

Le Villi, libretto by Ferdinando Fontana (in one act – premiered at the Teatro Dal Verme, 31 May 1884)

Edgar, libretto by Ferdinando Fontana (in four acts – premiered at La Scala, 21 April 1889)

Manon Lescaut, libretto by Luigi Illica, Marco Praga and Domenico Oliva (premiered at the Teatro Regio, 1 February 1893)

La bohème, libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa (premiered at the Teatro Regio of Torino, 1 February 1896)

Tosca, libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa (premiered at the Teatro Costanzi, 14 January 1900)

Madama Butterfly, libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa (in two acts – premiered at La Scala, 17 February 1904)

La fanciulla del West, libretto by Guelfo Civinini and Carlo Zangarini (premiered at the Metropolitan Opera, 10 December 1910)

La rondine, libretto by Giuseppe Adami (premiered at the Opéra of Monte Carlo, 27 March 1917)

Il trittico (premiered at the Metropolitan Opera, 14 December 1918)

Il tabarro, libretto by Giuseppe Adami

Suor Angelica, libretto by Giovacchino Forzano

Gianni Schicchi, libretto by Giovacchino Forzano

Turandot, libretto by Renato Simoni and Giuseppe Adami (incomplete at the time of Puccini's death, completed by Franco Alfano: premiered at La Scala, 25 April 1926)

 
 
 

Born in the Italian town of Lucca into family with a strong musical tradition. Puccini was encouraged to develop an interest in music from a very early age. His father started him playing the organ, reportedly by placing shiny coins on the keyboard which tempted the young boy to grasp them and thus push the keys down. At school he showed little promise or dedication, preferring the company of friends and indulging a taste for practical jokes that were often both complicated and theatrical.

After moving to the local music conservatoire, the Pacini Institute, Puccini's academic record began to improve, and by the age of 16 he was showing an increasing interest in composing and improvising at the organ. In 1876 he walked for seven hours to the town of Pisa in order to attend a performance of Verdi's Aida, despite not possessing the price of a ticket. The opera awoke in Puccini a sense of the power of theatrical music, and with the help of a scholarship endowed by none other than the queen of Italy, he was able to enrol at the Milan Conservatoire in 1880, at that time the country's biggest and most prestigious music college.

Puccini's first opera, Le villi, was produced in 1884, but it was not until Manon Lescaut in 1893 that he had a major success. This work set the tone for his celebrated later works by concentrating on the psychology of its female heroine. It was followed in 1896 by one of Puccini's best-loved works, La boheme (1896), produced in Turin. This tale of the exploits of aspiring artists in the bohemian world of mid-nineteenth-century Paris reflects Puccini's experiences in Milan, and subtly marries sentiment with comedy and tragedy. These qualities, along with its masterly characterization and what Debussy called the "sheer verve of the music", have guaranteed its place over the years as one of the most popular of operas.

The string of successes continued with his next two operas, Tosca (1900) and Madama Butterfly (1904). Tosca was first performed in Rome in an atmosphere of high tension. The work's anti-authoritarian stance and disrespectful portrait of the clergy fuelled rumours that a bomb was to be thrown. The premiere passed peacefully, however, and Tosca achieved great success with the public who enjoyed the melodramatic, even sadistic plot, and the composer's unerring sense of timing. In Butterfly, which rivals La Boheme and Tosca in popularity, Puccini achieved his most successful psychological characterization. The part of the heroine — the Japanese geisha who kills herself for love of the callous American Lieutenant Pinkerton — requires exceptional vocal and acting skill from the soprano singing the title role.

Puccini's next opera was La fanciulla del West (The girl of the Golden West), first produced in New York in 1910. A raw, rip-roaring drama set in the American Wild West, it was a triumphant success under the guidance of conductor Arturo Toscanini. La fanciulla was followed by La rondine (The swallow) and a trio of varied one-act operas — Il tabarro (The overcoat), Suor Angelica (Sister Angelica) and Gianni Schicchi, known collectively as Il trittico — before the composer started work on his final work, Turandot.

Puccini died of cancer before he was able to complete this work, the gruesome story of the wooing of Turandot, Princess of Peking, by an unknown prince who wins her through his courage and persistence. It is performed in a version completed by Franco Alfano. In Turandot, as in all the composer's operas, drama laden with erotic passion, tenderness, pathos, and despair is combined with music of breathtaking melodic invention. The mixture has ensured that the works of Puccini, the true successor to Verdi, continue to occupy a place at the centre of the operatic repertoire.

 
 
 

"Tosca" 
Karin Van Arkel (with Peter Nilsson at the piano)
Vissi d'arte 
Luigi Campeotto
E lucevan le stelle
Drew Slatton
E lucevan le stelle
Recondita armonia

   
 
"Madama Butterfly"
Karin Van Arkel 
(with the Delphi Ensemble)
Che tua madre dovra

Julie Brown
O Mio Bambino 
Choeur des Marais
Prelude du 3e acte
Peter Furlong 
Addio fiorito asil

Hilites
Amore o grillo
   
 
"Edgar"
Drew Slatton

O soave vision
Paul Carey Jones
Questo amor
Drew Slatton
   
 
"Turandot"
Drew Slatton
Nessun dorma
Northwest Iowa Symphony Orchestra
Nessun dorma
   
 

"Il Tabarro"
Drew Slatton
Hai ben ragione

   
 

"Manon Lescaut"
Choeur des Marais
Intermezzo
Paula Goodman 
In quelle trine morbide

   
 

"La Boheme"
Julie Brown
Quando m'en vo

Daniela Stigliano 
Mi chiamano Mimi
O Soave Fanciulla
Irina Vasilieva
Valse of Muzetta

   
 

"La fanciulla del West"
Paula Goodman 

"Oh, I ain't lonely"

   
 

Grand Rapids Cantata Choir
Vexilla regis

   
 
Julie Brown
It is Well with my Soul

 

 
 
 
The Best of Puccini
 
LA BOHÈME
ATO I
1. Introdução
2. Dueto: "Non sono in vena"
3. Ária: "Che gelida manina!"
4. Ária: "Si. Mi chiamano Mimí"
5. Dueto de amor: "O soave fanciulla"

ATO III
6. Dueto: "Mimí"
7. Trio: "Marcello, finalmente!"
8. Ária: "D'onde lieta uscí"

ATO IV
9. Dueto "Sono andati?"
10. Final: "Mimí"

MADAME BUTTERFLY
ATO I
11. Introdução
12. Dueto: "Dovunque al mondo"
13. Dueto: "Amore o grillo"Arrivèe de Madame Butterfly
14. "Quanto cielo, quanto mar!"
15. Dueto de amor: "Bimba dagli occhi pieni di malia"

ATO II
16. Ária: "Un bel di vedremo"Scene de la carte
17. "Amico, cercherete quel bel fior di fanciulla"
18. Ária e Final: "Con onor muore"

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Manon Lescaut - 1893
 
 
Manon Lescaut is an opera in four acts by Giacomo Puccini. The story is based on the 1731 novel L’histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost and should not be confused with Manon, an 1884 opera by Jules Massenet based on the same novel.

The libretto is in Italian, and was cobbled together by five librettists whom Puccini employed: Ruggero Leoncavallo, Marco Praga, Giuseppe Giacosa, Domenico Oliva and Luigi Illica. The publisher, Giulio Ricordi, and the composer himself also contributed to the libretto. So confused was the authorship of the libretto that no one was credited on the title page of the original score. However, it was Illica and Giacosa who completed the libretto and went on to contribute the libretti to Puccini's next three – and most successful – works, La Bohème, Tosca and Madama Butterfly.

Puccini took some musical elements in Manon Lescaut from earlier works he had written. For example, the madrigal Sulla vetta tu del monte from Act II echoes the Agnus Dei from his 1880 Messa a quattro voci. Other elements of Manon Lescaut come from his compositions for strings: the quartet Crisantemi (January 1890), three Menuets (probably 1884) and a Scherzo (1883?). The love theme comes from the aria Mentia l'avviso (1883).
 


Postcard commemorating the 1 February 1893 premiere.


Performance history

Puccini's publisher, Ricordi, had been against any project based on Prévost's story because Jules Massenet had already made it into a successful opera, Manon, in 1884. While Puccini and Ricordi may not have known it, the French composer Daniel Auber had also already written an opera on the same subject with the title Manon Lescaut, in 1856.

Despite all the warnings, Puccini proceeded. "Manon is a heroine I believe in and therefore she cannot fail to win the hearts of the public. Why shouldn’t there be two operas about Manon? A woman like Manon can have more than one lover." He added, "Massenet feels it as a Frenchman, with powder and minuets. I shall feel it as an Italian, with a desperate passion."

The first performance of Manon Lescaut took place in the Teatro Regio in Turin on 1 February 1893; it was Puccini's third opera and his first great success. The opera was first performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York on 18 January 1907 in the presence of the composer with Lina Cavalieri in the title role, Enrico Caruso as Des Grieux, Antonio Scotti as Lescaut, and Arturo Vigna conducting.


Synopsis

Time: The second half of the eighteenth century.
Places: Amiens, Paris, Le Havre, New Orleans.

Act 1
A public square near the Paris Gate

It is evening, and a crowd of male students and girls are strolling about a square known for drinking and gaming. Edmondo sings a song of youthful pleasure (Edmondo, chorus: Ave, sera gentile).

Des Grieux enters, but is melancholic and does not join the other students (Des Grieux, Edmondo, chorus: L’amor! L’amor!). They joke with him (Des Grieux, Edmondo, chorus: Tra voi, belle, brune e bionde) ; (Edmondo, chorus: Ma, bravo!).

The carriage from Arras arrives. Manon Lescaut, and an elderly treasurer-general, Geronte de Ravoir, descend from the coach. At the first sight of Manon, Des Grieux falls in love with her (Chorus, Edmondo, Lescaut, Des Grieux, Geronte: Discendono, vediam); (Des Grieux, Manon, Lescaut: Cortese damigella).

Des Grieux overhears their conversation: Manon is on her way to a convent, following the instructions of her father. Des Grieux approaches her and begs her to meet him later; she reluctantly agrees. The students laugh, pointing at the pair. After Manon leaves, Des Grieux sings of his feelings for her (Des Grieux: Donna non vidi mai).

Lescaut returns with Geronte, who also is captivated by Manon, saying she would only be wasted in a convent. While Lescaut is playing cards with a group of students, Geronte arranges to abduct Manon and take her to Paris (Edmondo, chorus, Geronte, Lescaut: La tua ventura ci rassicura); (Edmondo, Des Grieux: Cavaliere, te la fanno!).

Edmondo overhears the plan and informs Des Grieux. He advises him to accompany Manon in the carriage arranged by Geronte (Des Grieux, Manon: Vedete? Io son fedele alla parola mia). Des Grieux declares his love to Manon and persuades her to go to Paris with him. They leave together. Geronte and Lescaut arrive on the scene as they disappear, and Lescaut proposes that they follow the carriage to Paris. (Geronte, Edmondo, Lescaut, chorus: Di sedur la sorellina e il momento!)

Act 2
A room in Geronte's house in Paris

(Puccini omits the part of the novel in which Manon and Des Grieux live together for a while, then Manon leaves Des Grieux because his money runs out.)

The act begins with Manon as Geronte's mistress. Manon and her hairdresser are in the room when Lescaut enters (Manon, Lescaut: Dispettosetto questo riccio!); (Lescaut: Sei splendida e lucente!). She tells him that Geronte is too old and wicked; he bores her. Manon is sad, and her thoughts turn to Des Grieux (Manon: In quelle trine morbide); (Lescaut, Manon: Poiché tu vuoi saper).

Musicians arranged by Geronte enter to amuse her (Madrigal: Sulla vetta tu del monte); (Manon, Lescaut: Paga costor). Geronte brings a dancing master; they dance a minuet, then she sings a gavotte (Dancing master, Geronte, Manon, chorus: Vi prego, signorina [minuet]); (Manon, Geronte, chorus: L’ora, o Tirsi, è vaga e bella). After dancing, Geronte and the musicians leave the house.

Lescaut is upset knowing that his sister is not happy living with Geronte, and he goes to find Des Grieux. Des Grieux appears in Geronte’s house (Manon, Des Grieux: Oh, sarò la più bella! – This love's own magic spell). As they renew their vows of love, Geronte returns unexpectedly. He salutes them ironically, reminding Manon of his many favors to her. She replies that she cannot love him (Geronte, Des Grieux, Manon: Affè, madamigella).

Bowing low, he leaves them. The lovers rejoice in their freedom (Manon, Des Grieux: Ah! Ah! Liberi!). Lescaut urges them to leave the house at once, but Manon hesitates at the thought of leaving her jewels and pretty frocks. Again, Lescaut enters in breathless haste, making signs that they must depart immediately. Manon snatches up her jewels, and they go to the door. It is locked by Geronte's order. Soldiers appear to arrest Manon, who, in trying to escape, drops the jewels at Geronte's feet. She is dragged off, and Des Grieux is not permitted to follow her (Des Grieux, Manon, Lescaut, sergeant, Geronte: Lescaut! – Tu qui?).

(Intermezzo: The journey to Le Havre.)

After trying everything to release Manon from the prison but to no avail, Des Grieux goes to Le Havre.

Act 3
A square near the harbor in Le Havre

It is dawn. Manon is in prison with other courtesans (Des Grieux, Lescaut, Manon: Ansia eterna, crudel). Lescaut has bribed a prison guard to let Des Grieux speak with Manon. By talking to her through the bars, they learn that she is to be deported to Louisiana. A lamplighter passes, singing a song while he extinguishes the lights (Lamplighter, Des Grieux, Manon: E Kate ripose al re); (Des Grieux, Manon: Manon, disperato è il mio prego).

They attempt a rescue, but in vain. The guard appears, escorting a group of women, who are going on the same ship as Manon. She walks among them, pale and sad. The crowd makes brutal comments during the roll call of the courtesans (Chorus, Lescaut, Des Grieux, Manon: All'armi! All'armi!) but Lescaut inspires pity for Manon (Sergeant, chorus, Lescaut, Manon, Des Grieux: Rosetta! – Eh, che aria!)

Des Grieux, in despair at the idea of being separated from Manon forever, goes to Manon's side. He tries to seize her but is roughly pushed away by the sergeant. However, the captain of the ship sees his intense grief (Des Grieux: Pazzo son!) and allows him to board the ship.

Act 4
A vast plain near the outskirts of the New Orleans territory

The act begins with the lovers making their way across the desert hoping to find protection in a British settlement. Wandering in the desert without any water, the ailing Manon is exhausted. She falls and cannot go any farther (Des Grieux, Manon: Tutta su me ti posa) ; (Des Grieux: Vedi, son io che piango) ; (Manon, Des Grieux: Sei tu che piangi).

Des Grieux is alarmed by Manon's appearance and goes to look for water. While he is gone, Manon recalls her past and muses about her fatal beauty and her fate (Manon: Sola, perduta, abbandonata).

Des Grieux returns, having been unable to find water. Manon bids him a heart-rending farewell and dies in his arms. Overcome by grief, Des Grieux falls unconscious across her body (Manon, Des Grieux: Fra le tue braccia, amore).[5]

Instrumentation
The opera is scored for piccolo (doubling 3rd flute), two flutes, two oboes, cor anglais, two clarinets, bass clarinet, two bassoons, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, bass tuba, timpani, triangle, drum, tamtam, bass drum, cymbals, glockenspiel, celesta, harp, and strings, together with offstage flute, offstage cornet, offstage bell, offstage drum, and offstage sleigh bells.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
 
 
Puccini "Manon Lescaut" Kabaivanska/Giacomini 1984
 
Puccini - Manon Lescaut
Manon Lescaut - Raina Kabaivanska
Chevalier Des Grieux - Giuseppe Giacomini
Lescaut - Nelson Portella
Geronte of Ravoir - Giancarlo Luccardi
Sergeant - Nikolas Smochevski
Edmondo / Dancing Master / Lamplighter - Luybomir Dyakovski
Innkeeper / Captain - Dimiter Stanchev
Madrigal singer - Hristina Angelakova
Bulgarian Television and Radio Mixed Chorus
Bulgarian Television and Radio Symphony Orchestra
Conductor - Angelo Campori
Sofia, June 24 - July 9, 1984
 
 
 
 
 
 
Puccini - Manon Lescaut - Sola, perduta, abbandonata - Renata Scotto
 
 
 
 
 
 
Maria Callas. Sola, perduta, abbandonata. Manon Lescaut. Giacomo Puccini.
 
Maria Callas, soprano.
Philharmonia Orchestra.
Dir. Tullio Serafin.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Love duet - Manon Lescaut - Puccini
 
Manon: Scotto
Des Grieux: Domingo
conductor: Levine
1980
 
 
 
 
 
 
Luciano Pavarotti - Donna non vidi mai ('Manon Lescaut') (live, Munich 1986)
 
Luciano Pavarotti sings "Donna non vidi mai ('Manon Lescaut')" live from "Olympic Hall" in Munich, 1986, German TV
 
 
 
 
 
 

Original 1896 La bohème poster by Adolfo Hohenstein
 
 
La boheme - 1896
 
 
La bohème is an opera in four acts, composed by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on Scènes de la vie de bohème by Henri Murger.  The world premiere performance of La bohème was in Turin on 1 February 1896 at the Teatro Regio, conducted by the young Arturo Toscanini. Since then, La bohème has become part of the standard Italian opera repertory and is one of the most frequently performed operas worldwide.

In 1946, fifty years after the opera's premiere, Toscanini conducted a performance of it on radio with the NBC Symphony Orchestra. This performance was eventually released on records and on Compact Disc. It is the only recording of a Puccini opera by its original conductor.


Origin of the story

According to its title page, the libretto of La bohème is based on Henri Murger's novel, Scènes de la vie de bohème, a collection of vignettes portraying young bohemians living in the Latin Quarter of Paris in the 1840s. Although usually called a novel, it has no unified plot. Like the 1849 play by Murger and Théodore Barrière, the opera's libretto focuses on the relationship between Rodolfo and Mimì, ending with her death. Also like the play, the libretto combines two characters from the novel, Mimì and Francine, into a single Mimì character. Early in the composition stage Puccini was in dispute with the composer Leoncavallo, who said that he had offered Puccini a completed libretto and felt that Puccini should defer to him. Puccini responded that he had had no idea of Leoncavallo's interest and that having been working on his own version for some time, he felt that he could not oblige him by discontinuing with the opera. Leoncavallo completed his own version in which Marcello was sung by a tenor and Rodolfo by a baritone. It was unsuccessful and is now rarely performed.

Much of the libretto is original. The main plots of acts two and three are the librettists' invention, with only a few passing references to incidents and characters in Murger. Most of acts one and four follow the novel, piecing together episodes from various chapters. The final scenes in acts one and four—the scenes with Rodolfo and Mimì—resemble both the play and the novel. The story of their meeting closely follows chapter 18 of the novel, in which the two lovers living in the garret are not Rodolphe and Mimì at all, but rather Jacques and Francine. The story of Mimì's death in the opera draws from two different chapters in the novel, one relating Francine's death and the other relating Mimì's.

The published libretto includes a note from the librettists briefly discussing their adaptation. Without mentioning the play directly, they defend their conflation of Francine and Mimì into a single character: "Chi può non confondere nel delicato profilo di una sola donna quelli di Mimì e di Francine?" ("Who cannot confuse in the delicate profile of one woman the personality both of Mimì and of Francine?"). At the time, the novel was in the public domain, Murger having died without heirs, but rights to the play were still controlled by Barrière's heirs.

Performance history and reception
Initial success

The world première performance of La bohème took place in Turin on 1 February 1896 at the Teatro Regio[2] and was conducted by the young Arturo Toscanini. The opera quickly became popular throughout Italy and productions were soon mounted by the following companies: The Teatro di San Carlo (14 March 1896, with Elisa Petri as Musetta and Antonio Magini-Coletti as Marcello); The Teatro Comunale di Bologna (4 November 1896, with Amelia Sedelmayer as Musetta and Umberto Beduschi as Rodolfo); The Teatro Costanzi (17 November 1896, with Maria Stuarda Savelli as Mimì, Enrico Giannini-Grifoni as Rodolfo, and Maurizio Bensaude as Marcello); La Scala (15 March 1897, with Angelica Pandolfini as Mimì, Camilla Pasini as Musetta, Fernando De Lucia as Rodolfo, and Edoardo Camera as Marcello); La Fenice (26 December 1897, with Emilia Merolla as Mimì, Maria Martelli as Musetta, Giovanni Apostolu and Franco Mannucci as Rodolfo, and Ferruccio Corradetti as Marcello); Teatro Regio di Parma (29 January 1898, with Solomiya Krushelnytska as Mimì, Lina Cassandro as Musetta, Pietro Ferrari as Rodolfo, and Pietro Giacomello as Marcello); Paris Opera (13 June, 1898); and the Teatro Donizetti di Bergamo (21 August 1898, with Emilia Corsi as Mimì, Annita Barone as Musetta, Giovanni Apostolu as Rodolfo, and Giovanni Roussel as Marcello).

The first performance of La bohème outside Italy was at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 16 June 1896. The opera was given in Alexandria, Lisbon, and Moscow in early 1897. The United Kingdom premiere took place at the Theatre Royal in Manchester, on 22 April 1897, in a presentation by the Carl Rosa Opera Company supervised by Puccini.[8] This performance was given in English and starred Alice Esty as Mimì, Bessie McDonald as Musetta, Robert Cunningham as Rodolfo, and William Paull as Marcello. On 2 October 1897 the same company gave the opera's first staging at the Royal Opera House in London and on 14 October 1897 in Los Angeles for the opera's United States premiere. The opera reached New York City on 16 May 1898 when it was performed at Wallack's Theatre with Giuseppe Agostini as Rodolfo. The first production of the opera actually produced by the Royal Opera House itself premiered on 1 July 1899 with Nellie Melba as Mimì, Zélie de Lussan as Musetta, Fernando De Lucia as Rodolfo, and Mario Ancona as Marcello.

La bohème premiered in Germany at the Kroll Opera House in Berlin on 22 June 1897. The French premiere of the opera was presented by the Opéra-Comique on 13 June 1898 at the Théâtre des Nations. The production used a French translation by Paul Ferrier and starred Julia Guiraudon as Mimì, Jeanne Tiphaine as Musetta, Adolphe Maréchal as Rodolfo, and Lucien Fugère as Marcello. The Czech premiere of the opera was presented by the National Theatre on 27 February 1898.

20th and 21st centuries
La bohème continued to gain international popularity throughout the early 20th century and the Opéra-Comique alone had already presented the opera one hundred times by 1903. The Belgian premiere took place at La Monnaie on 25 October 1900 using Ferrier's French translation with Marie Thiérry as Mimì, Léon David as Rodolfo, Eugène-Charles Badiali as Marcello, sets by Pierre Devis, Armand Lynen, and Albert Dubosq, and Philippe Flon conducting. The Metropolitan Opera staged the work for the first time on 26 December 1900 with Nellie Melba as Mimì, Annita Occhiolini-Rizzini as Musetta, Albert Saléza as Rodolfo, Giuseppe Campanari as Marcello, and Luigi Mancinelli conducting.

The opera was first performed in Brazil at the Theatro da Paz in Belém on 21 April 1900 with the Brazilian soprano Tilde Maragliano as Mimì, Maria Cavallini as Musetta, Giuseppe Agostini as Rodolfo and Alessandro Modesti as Marcello. The conductor was Giorgio Polacco

The following year La bohème was presented at the Teatro Amazonas in Manaus, Brazil on 2 July 1901 with Elvira Miotti as Mimì, Mabel Nelma as Musetta, Michele Sigaldi as Rodolfo, and Enrico De Franceschi as Marcello. Other premieres soon followed:

Melbourne: 13 July 1901 (Her Majesty's Theatre; first performance in Australia)
Monaco: 1 February 1902, Opéra de Monte-Carlo in Monte Carlo with Nellie Melba as Mimì, Enrico Caruso as Rodolfo, Alexis Boyer as Marcello, and Léon Jehin conducting.
Prato: 25 December 1902, Regio Teatro Metastasio with Ulderica Persichini as Mimì, Norma Sella as Musetta, Ariodante Quarti as Rodolfo, and Amleto Pollastri as Marcello.
Catania: 9 July 1903, Politeama Pacini with Isabella Costa Orbellini as Mimì, Lina Gismondi as Musetta, Elvino Ventura as Rodolfo, and Alfredo Costa as Marcello.
Austria: 25 November 1903, Vienna State Opera in Vienna with Selma Kurz as Mimì, Marie Gutheil-Schoder as Musetta, Fritz Schrödter as Rodolfo, Gerhard Stehmann as Marcello, and Gustav Mahler conducting.
Sweden: 19 May 1905, Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, presented by the Royal Swedish Opera with Maria Labia as Mimì.
The first production of La bohème at the Salzburg Festival did not occur until as late as July 2012. However, that festival has not shown much interest in the operas of Puccini, only ever having one production each of Tosca and Turandot in its entire history.

Critical reception
Despite the opera's popularity with audiences, Puccini has been the target of condescension by some music critics who find his music insufficiently sophisticated or difficult. The composer Benjamin Britten wrote in 1951, "[A]fter four or five performances I never wanted to hear Bohème again. In spite of its neatness, I became sickened by the cheapness and emptiness of the music."


Synopsis

Place: Paris
Time: Around 1830.

Act 1

In the four bohemians' garret

Marcello is painting while Rodolfo gazes out of the window. They complain of the cold. In order to keep warm, they burn the manuscript of Rodolfo's drama. Colline, the philosopher, enters shivering and disgruntled at not having been able to pawn some books. Schaunard, the musician of the group, arrives with food, wine and cigars. He explains the source of his riches: a job with an eccentric English gentleman, who ordered him to play his violin to a parrot until it died. The others hardly listen to his tale as they set up the table to eat and drink. Schaunard interrupts, telling them that they must save the food for the days ahead: tonight they will all celebrate his good fortune by dining at Cafe Momus, and he will pay.

The friends are interrupted by Benoît, the landlord, who arrives to collect the rent. They flatter him and ply him with wine. In his drunkenness, he begins to boast of his amorous adventures, but when he also reveals that he is married, they thrust him from the room—without the rent payment—in comic moral indignation. The rent money is divided for their evening out in the Quartier Latin.

Marcello, Schaunard and Colline go out, but Rodolfo remains alone for a moment in order to finish an article he is writing, promising to join his friends soon. There is a knock at the door. It is a girl who lives in another room in the building. Her candle has blown out, and she has no matches; she asks Rodolfo to light it. She is briefly overcome with faintness, and Rodolfo helps her to a chair and offers her a glass of wine. She thanks him. After a few minutes, she says that she is better and must go. But as she turns to leave, she realizes that she has lost her key.

Her candle goes out in the draught and Rodolfo's candle goes out too; the pair stumble in the dark. Rodolfo, eager to spend time with the girl, to whom he is already attracted, finds the key and pockets it, feigning innocence. He takes her cold hand (Che gelida manina – "What a cold little hand") and tells her of his life as a poet, then asks her to tell him more about her life. The girl says her name is Mimì (Sì, mi chiamano Mimì – "Yes, they call me Mimì"), and describes her simple life as an embroiderer. Impatiently, the waiting friends call Rodolfo. He answers and turns to see Mimì bathed in moonlight (duet, Rodolfo and Mimì: O soave fanciulla – "Oh lovely girl"). They realize that they have fallen in love. Rodolfo suggests remaining at home with Mimì, but she decides to accompany him to the Cafe Momus. As they leave, they sing of their newfound love.

Act 2
Quartier Latin

A great crowd, including children, has gathered with street sellers announcing their wares (chorus: Aranci, datteri! Caldi i marroni! – "Oranges, dates! Hot chestnuts!"). The friends arrive; Rodolfo buys Mimì a bonnet from a vendor, while Colline buys a coat and Schaunard a horn. Parisians gossip with friends and bargain with the vendors; the children of the streets clamor to see the wares of Parpignol, the toy seller. The friends enter the Cafe Momus.

As the men and Mimì dine at the cafe, Musetta, formerly Marcello's sweetheart, arrives with her rich (and elderly) government minister admirer, Alcindoro, whom she is tormenting. It is clear she has tired of him. To the delight of the Parisians and the embarrassment of her patron, she sings a risqué song (Musetta's waltz: Quando me'n vo' – "When I go along"), hoping to reclaim Marcello's attention. The ploy works; at the same time, Mimì recognizes that Musetta truly loves Marcello. To be rid of Alcindoro for a bit, Musetta pretends to be suffering from a tight shoe and sends him to the shoemaker to get her shoe mended. Alcindoro leaves, and Musetta and Marcello fall rapturously into each other's arms.

The friends are presented with their bill. Schaunard's purse has gone missing and no one else has enough money to pay. The sly Musetta has the entire bill charged to Alcindoro. The sound of a military band is heard, and the friends leave. Alcindoro returns with the repaired shoe seeking Musetta. The waiter hands him the bill and, dumbfounded, Alcindoro sinks into a chair.

Act 3
At the toll gate at the Barrière d'Enfer (late February)

Peddlers pass through the barriers and enter the city. Mimì appears, coughing violently. She tries to find Marcello, currently living in a little tavern where he paints signs for the innkeeper. She tells him of her hard life with Rodolfo, who abandoned her the night before, and of Rodolfo's terrible jealousy (O buon Marcello, aiuto! – "Oh, good Marcello, help me!"). Marcello tells her that Rodolfo is asleep inside, and expresses concern about Mimì's cough. Rodolfo wakes up and comes out looking for Marcello. Mimì hides and overhears Rodolfo first telling Marcello that he left Mimì because of her coquettishness, but finally confessing that his jealousy is a sham: he fears she is slowly being consumed by a deadly illness (most likely tuberculosis, known by the catchall name "consumption" in the nineteenth century). Rodolfo, in his poverty, can do little to help Mimì and hopes that his pretended unkindness will inspire her to seek another, wealthier suitor (Marcello, finalmente – "Marcello, finally").

Out of kindness towards Mimì, Marcello tries to silence him, but she has already heard all. Her weeping and coughing reveal her presence, and Rodolfo hurries to her. Musetta's laughter is heard and Marcello goes to find out what has happened. Mimì tells Rodolfo that she is leaving him, and asks that they separate amicably (Mimì: Donde lieta uscì – "From here she happily left"); but their love for one another is too strong for the pair to part. As a compromise, they agree to remain together until the spring, when the world is coming to life again and no one feels truly alone. Meanwhile, Marcello has found Musetta, and the couple quarrel fiercely about Musetta's flirtatiousness: an antithetical counterpoint to the other pair's reconciliation (quartet: Mimì, Rodolfo, Musetta, Marcello: Addio dolce svegliare alla mattina! – "Goodbye, sweet awakening in the morning!").

Act 4
Back in the garret (some months later)

Marcello and Rodolfo are trying to work, though they are primarily talking about their girlfriends, who have left them and found wealthy lovers. Rodolfo has seen Musetta in a fine carriage and Marcello has seen Mimì dressed like a queen. The men both express their nostalgia (duet: O Mimì, tu più non torni – "O Mimì, will you not return?"). Schaunard and Colline arrive with a very frugal dinner and all parody eating a plentiful banquet, dance together and sing, before Schaunard and Colline engage in a mock duel.

Musetta suddenly appears; Mimì, who took up with a wealthy viscount after leaving Rodolfo in the spring, has left her patron. Musetta found her that day in the street, severely weakened by her illness, and Mimì begged Musetta to bring her to Rodolfo. Mimì, haggard and pale, is assisted onto a bed. Briefly, she feels as though she is recovering. Musetta and Marcello leave to sell Musetta's earrings in order to buy medicine, and Colline leaves to pawn his overcoat (Vecchia zimarra – "Old coat"). Schaunard leaves with Colline to give Mimì and Rodolfo some time together. Mimì tells Rodolfo that her love for him is her whole life (aria/duet, Mimì and Rodolfo: Sono andati? – "Have they gone?").

To Mimì's delight, Rodolfo presents her with the pink bonnet he bought her, which he has kept as a souvenir of their love. They remember past happiness and their first meeting—the candles, the lost key. Suddenly, Mimì is overwhelmed by a coughing fit. The others return, with a gift of a muff to warm Mimì's hands and some medicine. Mimì gently thanks Rodolfo for the muff, which she believes is a present from him, reassures him that she is better and falls asleep. As Musetta prays, Mimì dies. Schaunard realizes that Mimì has died. Rodolfo becomes aware that something is wrong. He rushes to the bed, calling Mimì's name in anguish, and weeps helplessly.

Instrumentation
La bohème is scored for:

woodwind: 2 flutes, piccolo, 2 oboes, cor anglais, 2 clarinets in A and B flat, bass clarinet in A and B flat, 2 bassoons
brass: 4 horns in F, 3 trumpets in F, 3 trombones, bass trombone
percussion: timpani, snare drum, triangle, cymbals, bass drum, xylophone, glockenspiel, chimes
strings: harp, violins I, II, viola, cello, double bass

Recording history

The discography of La bohème is a long one with many distinguished recordings, including the 1972 Decca recording conducted by Herbert von Karajan with Luciano Pavarotti as Rodolfo and Mirella Freni as Mimi (made before Pavarotti became an international superstar of opera), and the 1973 RCA Victor conducted by Sir Georg Solti with Montserrat Caballé as Mimì and Plácido Domingo as Rodolfo which won the 1974 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording. The earliest commercially released full-length recording was probably that recorded in February 1917 and released on the Italian label La Voce del Padrone. Carlo Sabajno conducted the La Scala Orchestra and Chorus with Gemma Bosini and Reno Andreini as Mimì and Rodolfo. One of the most recent is the 2008 Deutsche Grammophon release conducted by Bertrand de Billy with Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón as Mimì and Rodolfo.

There are several recordings with conductors closely associated with Puccini. In the 1946 RCA Victor recording, Arturo Toscanini, who conducted the world premiere of the opera, conducts the NBC Symphony Orchestra with Jan Peerce as Rodolfo and Licia Albanese as Mimì. It is the only recording of a Puccini opera by its original conductor. Thomas Beecham, who worked closely with Puccini when preparing a 1920 production of La bohème in London, conducted a performance of the opera in English released by Columbia Records in 1936 with Lisa Perli as Mimì and Heddle Nash as Rodolfo. Beecham also conducts on the 1956 RCA Victor recording with Victoria de los Ángeles and Jussi Björling as Mimì and Rodolfo.

Although the vast majority of recordings are in the original Italian, the opera has been recorded in several other languages. These include: a recording in French conducted by Erasmo Ghiglia with Renée Doria and Alain Vanzo as Mimì and Rodolfo (1960); a recording in German with Richard Kraus conducting the Deutsche Oper Berlin Orchestra and Chorus with Trude Eipperle and Fritz Wunderlich as Mimì and Rodolfo (1956); and the 1998 release on the Chandos Opera in English label with David Parry conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra and Cynthia Haymon and Dennis O'Neill as Mimì and Rodolfo.

Enrico Caruso, who was closely associated with the role of Rodolfo, never recorded a full version of the opera but recorded several extracts beginning with one on cylinder in 1906. Rodolfo's famous aria "Che gelida manina" has been recorded by nearly 500 tenors in at least seven different languages between 1900 and 1980. In 1981 the A.N.N.A. Record Company released a six LP set with 101 different tenors singing the aria.



Stage design for act 1 of La bohème, Reginald Gray, 2010
 

The missing act
In 1957 Illica’s widow died and his papers were given to the Parma Museum. Among them was the full libretto to La bohème. It was discovered that the librettists had prepared an act which Puccini decided not to use in his composition. It is noteworthy for explaining Rodolfo’s jealous remarks to Marcello in act 3.

The "missing act" is located in the timeline between the Café Momus scene and act 3 and describes an open-air party at Musetta's dwelling. Her protector has refused to pay further rent out of jealous feelings, and Musetta's furniture is moved into the courtyard to be auctioned off the following morning. The four Bohemians find in this an excuse for a party and arrange for wine and an orchestra. Musetta gives Mimì a beautiful gown to wear and introduces her to a Viscount. The pair dances a quadrille in the courtyard, which moves Rodolfo to jealousy. This explains his act 3 reference to the "moscardino di Viscontino" (young fop of a Viscount). As dawn approaches, furniture dealers gradually remove pieces for the morning auction.

Derivative works
In 1959 "Musetta's Waltz" was adapted by songwriter Bobby Worth for the pop song "Don't You Know?", a hit for Della Reese. Earlier, it was used for another song, "One Night of Love"

In 1969 in Paris, American free-jazz pianist Dave Burrell recorded his La Vie de Bohème with a seven-piece group of European and American musicians. The music on the double-LP is improvised and experimental, but the listener can still discern Puccini's themes, as well as the narrative arc of the complete opera.

The opera was also adapted into a 1983 short story form by the novelist V. S. Pritchett for publication by the Metropolitan Opera Association. La Bohème: Una piccola storia sull'immortalità dell'amore e dell'amicizia by Carollina Fabinger is an illustrated version in Italian for young readers published by Nuages, Milan, 2009. A short parody, The One-Minute, Non-Musical La Boheme for One or More Actors, by Meron Langsner was published by McSweeney's Internet Tendency in 2012.

Modernizations
Baz Luhrmann produced the opera for Opera Australia in 1990[26] with modernized supertitle translations, and a budget of only A$60,000. A DVD was issued of the stage show. According to Luhrmann, this version was set in 1957 (rather than the original period of 1830) because "...[they] discovered that 1957 was a very, very accurate match for the social and economic realities of Paris in the 1840s." In 2002, Luhrmann restaged his version on Broadway, the production won two Tony Awards out of six nominations; for Best Scenic Design and Best Lighting Design as well as a special award, the Tony Honor for Excellence in Theatre. To play the eight performances per week on Broadway, three casts of Mimìs and Rodolfos, and two Musettas and Marcellos, were used in rotation.

Rent, a 1996 musical by Jonathan Larson, is based on La bohème. Here the lovers, Roger and Mimi, are faced with AIDS and progress through the action with songs such as "Light My Candle", which have direct reference to La bohème. Many of the character names are retained or are similar (e.g. the character Angel is given the surname "Schunard"), and at another point in the play, Roger's roommate and best friend Mark makes a wry reference to "Musetta's Waltz", which is a recurring theme throughout the first act and is played at the end of the second act.

Robin Norton-Hale directed a new production produced by Adam Spreadbury-Maher at the Cock Tavern Theatre, Kilburn, for OperaUpClose in December 2009. Originally planned for a six-week season, it was extended for five months. The production was set in present day North London, specifically in the Kilburn area, which is described as one "of pound shops and betting shops, casual labour and cheap sublets. A nice verismo touch, this – it also has the highest rate of tuberculosis infection in Greater London.”nce and cast moved downstairs to the pub itself, with the pub's patrons serving as extras in the Cafe Momus scene. In 2010 it transferred to the West End's Soho Theatre for two sell-out seasons and won a Laurence Olivier Award. The production was revived at the Soho Theatre in 2011 and at the Charing Cross Theatre in 2012.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
 
 
Giacomo Puccini - La Bohème - Anna Netrebko, Rolando Villazón
 
La Bohème -- A Film by Robert Dornhelm -- Anna Netrebko, Rolando Villazón

Anna Netrebko, Mimì
Rolando Villazón, Rodolfo
Nicole Cabell, Musetta
Adrian Eröd, Schaunard
Ioan Holender, Alcindoro
Vitalij Kowaljow, Colline
George Von Bergen, Marcello

Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Bertrand de Billy

2009

 
 
 
 
 
 
La Boheme - Freni, Raimondi, Martino, Panerai
 
La Boheme. Mimi: Mirella Freni. Musetta: Adriana Martino. Rodolfo: Gianni Raimondi. Marcello: Rolando Panerai. Schaunard: Gianni Maffeo. Colline: Ivo Vinco. Orchestra e Coro del Teatro Alla Scala. Conductor: H. Von Karajan. Direceted and designed by Franco Zeffirelli. Complete Opera.
 
 
 
 
 
 
G. Puccini - "La boheme" Act 3 "Addio" (Netrebko - Beczala - Machaidze - Cavalletti) 2012
 
Giacomo Puccini - "La Bohème" Salzburg (02.08.2012). Anna Netrebko - Mimì. Piotr Beczala - Rodolfo. Nino Machaidze - Musetta. Massimo Cavalletti - Marcello. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor - Daniele Gatti.
 
 
 
 
 
 
G. Puccini - "La boheme" Act 4 Final (Netrebko - Beczala - Machaidze) 2012
 
Giacomo Puccini - "La Bohème" Salzburg (02.08.2012). Anna Netrebko - Mimì. Piotr Beczala - Rodolfo. Nino Machaidze - Musetta. Massimo Cavalletti - Marcello. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor - Daniele Gatti.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Poster for Giacomo Puccini’s opera Tosca, 1906
 
 
Tosca - 1900
 
 
Tosca  is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. It premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on 14 January 1900. The work, based on Victorien Sardou's 1887 French-language dramatic play, La Tosca, is a melodramatic piece set in Rome in June 1800, with the Kingdom of Naples's control of Rome threatened by Napoleon's invasion of Italy. It contains depictions of torture, murder and suicide, as well as some of Puccini's best-known lyrical arias.

Puccini saw Sardou's play when it was touring Italy in 1889 and, after some vacillation, obtained the rights to turn the work into an opera in 1895. Turning the wordy French play into a succinct Italian opera took four years, during which the composer repeatedly argued with his librettists and publisher. Tosca premiered at a time of unrest in Rome, and its first performance was delayed for a day for fear of disturbances. Despite indifferent reviews from the critics, the opera was an immediate success with the public.

Musically, Tosca is structured as a through-composed work, with arias, recitative, choruses and other elements musically woven into a seamless whole. Puccini used Wagnerian leitmotifs (short musical statements) to identify characters, objects and ideas. While critics have frequently dismissed the opera as a facile melodrama with confusions of plot—musicologist Joseph Kerman famously called it a "shabby little shocker"—the power of its score and the inventiveness of its orchestration have been widely acknowledged. The dramatic force of Tosca and its characters continues to fascinate both performers and audiences, and the work remains one of the most frequently performed operas. Many recordings of the work have been issued, both of studio and live performances.


Background

The French playwright Victorien Sardou wrote more than 70 plays, almost all of them successful, and none of them performed today. In the early 1880s Sardou began a collaboration with actress Sarah Bernhardt, whom he provided with a series of historical melodramas. His third Bernhardt play, La Tosca, which premiered in Paris on 24 November 1887, and in which she starred throughout Europe, was an outstanding success, with more than 3,000 performances in France alone.

Puccini had seen La Tosca at least twice, in Milan and Turin. On 7 May 1889 he wrote to his publisher, Giulio Ricordi, begging him to get Sardou's permission for the work to be made into an opera: "I see in this Tosca the opera I need, with no overblown proportions, no elaborate spectacle, nor will it call for the usual excessive amount of music." Ricordi sent his agent in Paris, Emanuele Muzio, to negotiate with Sardou, who preferred that his play be adapted by a French composer. He complained about the reception La Tosca had received in Italy, particularly in Milan, and also warned that other composers were interested in the piece. Nonetheless, Ricordi reached terms with Sardou, and assigned the librettist Luigi Illica to write a scenario for an adaptation. In 1891, however, Illica advised Puccini against the project, most likely because he felt the play could not be successfully adapted to a musical form. When Sardou expressed his unease at entrusting his most successful work to a relatively new composer whose music he did not like, Puccini took offence. He withdrew from the agreement, which Ricordi then assigned to Alberto Franchetti.

Illica wrote a libretto for Franchetti who, however, was never at ease with the assignment. There are several versions of how Ricordi got Franchetti to surrender the rights so he could recommission Puccini, who had again become interested. By some accounts, Ricordi convinced Franchetti that the work was too violent to be successfully staged. Franchetti family tradition holds that Franchetti gave the work back as a grand gesture, saying, "He has more talent than I do." American scholar Deborah Burton contends that Franchetti gave it up simply because he saw little merit in it and could not feel the music in the play. Franchetti surrendered the rights in May 1895, and in August Puccini signed a contract to resume control of the project.


Synopsis
Historical context


According to the libretto, the action of Tosca occurs in Rome in June 1800. Sardou, in his play, dates it more precisely; La Tosca takes place in the afternoon, evening, and early morning of 17 and 18 June 1800.

Italy had long been divided into a number of small states, with the Pope in Rome ruling the Papal States in central Italy. Following the French Revolution, a French army under Napoleon invaded Italy in 1796, entering Rome almost unopposed on 11 February 1798 and establishing a republic there. This republic was ruled by seven consuls; in the opera this is the former office of Angelotti, whose character may be based on the real-life consul Libero Angelucci. In September 1799 the French, who had protected the republic, withdrew from Rome. As they left, troops of the Kingdom of Naples occupied the city.

In May 1800 Napoleon, by then the undisputed leader of France, brought his troops across the Alps to Italy once again. On 14 June his army met the Austrian forces at the Battle of Marengo (near Alessandria). Austrian troops were initially successful; by mid-morning they were in control of the field of battle. Their commander, Michael von Melas, sent this news south towards Rome. However, fresh French troops arrived in late afternoon, and Napoleon attacked the tired Austrians. As Melas retreated in disarray with the remains of his army, he sent a second courier south with the revised message. The Neapolitans abandoned Rome, and the city spent the next fourteen years under French domination.




The Te Deum scene which concludes act 1; Scarpia stands to left. Photograph of a pre-1914 production at the old Metropolitan Opera House, New York.
 

Act 1
Inside the church of Sant'Andrea della Valle

Cesare Angelotti, former consul of the Roman Republic and now an escaped political prisoner, runs into the church and hides in the Attavanti private chapel – his sister, the Marchesa Attavanti, has left a key to the chapel hidden at the feet of the statue of the Madonna. The elderly Sacristan enters and begins cleaning. The Sacristan kneels in prayer as the Angelus sounds. The painter Mario Cavaradossi arrives to continue work on his picture of Mary Magdalene. The Sacristan identifies a likeness between the portrait and a blonde-haired woman who has been visiting the church recently (unknown to him, it is Angelotti's sister the Marchesa). Cavaradossi describes the "hidden harmony" ("Recondita armonia") in the contrast between the blonde beauty of his painting and his dark-haired lover, the singer Floria Tosca. The Sacristan mumbles his disapproval before leaving.

Angelotti emerges and tells Cavaradossi, an old friend who has republican sympathies, that he is being pursued by the Chief of Police, Baron Scarpia. Cavaradossi promises to assist him after nightfall. Tosca's voice is heard, calling to Cavaradossi. Cavaradossi gives Angelotti his basket of food and Angelotti hurriedly returns to his hiding place. Tosca enters and suspiciously asks Cavaradossi what he has been doing – she thinks that he has been talking to another woman. Cavaradossi reassures her and Tosca tries to persuade him to take her to his villa that evening: "Non la sospiri, la nostra casetta" ("Do you not long for our little cottage"). She then expresses jealousy over the woman in the painting, whom she recognises as the Marchesa Attavanti. Cavaradossi explains the likeness; he has merely observed the Marchesa at prayer in the church. He reassures Tosca of his fidelity and asks her what eyes could be more beautiful than her own: "Qual'occhio al mondo" ("What eyes in the world"). After Tosca has left, Angelotti reappears and discusses with the painter his plan to flee disguised as a woman, using clothes left in the chapel by his sister. Cavaradossi gives Angelotti a key to his villa, suggesting that he hide in a disused well in the garden.

The sound of a cannon signals that Angelotti's escape has been discovered. He and Cavaradossi hasten out of the church. The Sacristan re-enters with choristers, celebrating the news that Napoleon has apparently been defeated at Marengo. The celebrations cease abruptly with the entry of Scarpia, his henchman Spoletta and several police agents. They have heard that Angelotti has sought refuge in the church. Scarpia orders a search, and the empty food basket and a fan bearing the Attavanti coat of arms are found in the chapel. Scarpia questions the Sacristan, and his suspicions are aroused further when he learns that Cavaradossi has been in the church; Scarpia mistrusts the painter, and believes him complicit in Angelotti's escape. When Tosca arrives looking for her lover, Scarpia artfully arouses her jealous instincts by implying a relationship between the painter and the Marchesa Attavanti. He draws Tosca's attention to the fan and suggests that someone must have surprised the lovers in the chapel. Tosca falls for his deceit; enraged, she rushes off to confront Cavaradossi. Scarpia orders Spoletta and his agents to follow her, assuming she will lead them to Cavaradossi and Angelotti. He privately gloats as he reveals his intentions to possess Tosca and execute Cavaradossi. A procession enters the church singing the Te Deum; exclaiming 'Tosca, you make me forget even God!', Scarpia joins the chorus in the prayer.



Tosca reverently lays a crucifix on Scarpia's body. Photograph of a pre-1914 production at the old Metropolitan Opera House, New York.
 

Act 2

Scarpia's apartment in the Palazzo Farnese, that evening

Scarpia, at supper, sends a note to Tosca asking her to come to his apartment. He has been unable to find Angelotti, but has arrested Cavaradossi. As Cavaradossi is brought in and questioned, the voice of Tosca, singing a celebratory cantata in another room in the Palace, can be heard. Cavaradossi denies knowing anything about the escape of Angelotti. Tosca arrives, just in time to see her lover taken to an antechamber to be tortured. He is able to speak briefly with her, telling her to say nothing. Tosca is told by Scarpia that she can save her lover from indescribable pain if she reveals Angelotti's hiding place. She resists, but hearing Cavaradossi's cries of pain, eventually tells Scarpia that Angelotti is in the well in the garden of Cavaradossi's villa.

Scarpia orders the torture of Cavaradossi to cease and the wounded painter is brought back in. He recovers consciousness and, learning of Tosca's betrayal, is furious with her. Sciarrone, a police agent, enters with news of Napoleon's victory at Marengo; Cavaradossi gloats, telling Scarpia that his rule of terror will soon be at an end, before being dragged away by Scarpia's men. Scarpia, left with Tosca, proposes a bargain: if she gives herself to him, Cavaradossi will be freed. She is revolted, and repeatedly rejects his advances. Outside she hears the drums that announce an execution; as Scarpia awaits her decision, she prays to God for help, asking why He has abandoned her: "Vissi d'arte" ("I lived for art"). Scarpia remains adamant despite her pleas. When Spoletta brings news that Angelotti has killed himself, and that everything is in place for Cavaradossi's execution, Tosca, in despair, agrees to submit to Scarpia in return for Cavaradossi's freedom. Scarpia tells his deputy Spoletta to arrange a mock execution, both recalling that it will be "as we did with Count Palmieri".

Following Spoletta's departure, Tosca imposes the further condition that Scarpia provide a safe-conduct out of Rome for herself and her lover. While he is signing the document, Tosca quietly takes a knife from the supper table. As Scarpia triumphantly embraces her, she stabs him, crying "this is Tosca's kiss!". As Scarpia falls dead, she declares that she now forgives him. She removes the safe-conduct from his pocket, lights candles in a gesture of piety and places a crucifix on the body before leaving.




The Castel Sant'Angelo, (right), scene of the Tosca denouement, as painted in the 18th century

Act 3
The upper parts of the Castel Sant'Angelo, early the following morning

A shepherd boy sings (in Romanesco dialect) "Io de' sospiri" ("I give you sighs") as church bells sound for matins. Cavaradossi is led in by guards and informed that he has one hour to live. He refuses to see a priest, but asks permission to write a letter to Tosca. He begins to write, but is soon overwhelmed by memories: "E lucevan le stelle" ("And the stars shone"). Tosca enters and shows him the safe-conduct. She tells him that she has killed Scarpia and that the imminent execution is a sham: Cavaradossi must feign death, but afterwards they can leave Rome together, before Scarpia's body is discovered. Cavaradossi is amazed at the courage shown by one so gentle and tender: "O dolci mani" ("Oh sweet hands"). The pair ecstatically plan the life they will live away from Rome. Tosca then anxiously instructs Cavaradossi on how to play his part in the mock execution convincingly. She tells him that he will be shot with blanks by the firing squad and instructs him to fall down as if dead. He agrees to act "like Tosca in the theatre".

Cavaradossi is led away, and Tosca watches with increasing impatience as the execution is prepared. The men fire, Cavaradossi falls, and Tosca exclaims "Ecco un artista!" ("What an actor!"). When the soldiers have all left, she hurries towards Cavaradossi, only to find that he is dead; Scarpia has betrayed her. Heartbroken, she clasps his lifeless body and weeps. The voices of Spoletta, Sciarrone and soldiers are heard, indicating that Scarpia's body has been found, and that Tosca is known to have killed him. As Spoletta, Sciarrone and the soldiers rush in, Tosca rises, evades their clutches, and runs to the parapet. Crying "O Scarpia, Avanti a Dio!" ("O Scarpia, we meet before God!"), she hurls herself over the edge to her death.




Front cover of the original 1899 libretto

 

Adaptation and writing
Sardou's five-act play La Tosca contains a large amount of dialogue and exposition. While the broad details of the play are present in the opera's plot, the original work contains many more characters and much detail not present in the opera. In the play the lovers are portrayed as though they were French: the character Floria Tosca is closely modelled on Bernhardt's personality, while her lover Cavaradossi, of Roman descent, is born in Paris. Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, the playwright who joined the project to polish the verses, needed not only to cut back the play drastically, but to make the characters' motivations and actions suitable for Italian opera. Giacosa and Puccini repeatedly clashed over the condensation, with Giacosa feeling that Puccini did not really want to complete the project.

The first draft libretto that Illica produced for Puccini resurfaced in 2000 after being lost for many years. It contains considerable differences from the final libretto, relatively minor in the first two acts but much more appreciable in the third, where the description of the Roman dawn that opens the third act is much longer, and Cavaradossi's tragic aria, the eventual "E lucevan le stelle", has different words. The 1896 libretto also offers a different ending, in which Tosca does not die but instead goes mad. In the final scene, she cradles her lover's head in her lap and hallucinates that she and her Mario are on a gondola, and that she is asking the gondolier for silence. Sardou refused to consider this change, insisting that as in the play, Tosca must throw herself from the parapet to her death. Puccini agreed with Sardou, telling him that the mad scene would have the audiences anticipate the ending and start moving towards the cloakrooms. Puccini pressed his librettists hard, and Giacosa issued a series of melodramatic threats to abandon the work. The two librettists were finally able to give Puccini what they hoped was a final version of the libretto in 1898.

Little work was done on the score during 1897, which Puccini devoted mostly to performances of La bohème. The opening page of the autograph Tosca score, containing the motif that would be associated with Scarpia, is dated January 1898. At Puccini's request, Giacosa irritably provided new lyrics for the act 1 love duet. In August, Puccini removed several numbers from the opera, according to his biographer, Mary Jane Phillips-Matz, "cut[ting] Tosca to the bone, leaving three strong characters trapped in an airless, violent, tightly wound melodrama that had little room for lyricism". At the end of the year, Puccini wrote that he was "busting his balls" on the opera.

Puccini asked clerical friends for words for the congregation to mutter at the start of the act 1 Te Deum; when nothing they provided satisfied him, he supplied the words himself. For the Te Deum music, he investigated the melodies to which the hymn was set in Roman churches, and sought to reproduce the cardinal's procession authentically, even to the uniforms of the Swiss Guards. He adapted the music to the exact pitch of the great bell of St. Peter's Basilica, and was equally diligent when writing the music that opens act 3, in which Rome awakens to the sounds of church bells. He journeyed to Rome and went to the Castel Sant'Angelo to measure the sound of matins bells there, as they would be heard from its ramparts. Puccini had bells for the Roman dawn cast to order by four different foundries. This apparently did not have its desired effect, as Illica wrote to Ricordi on the day after the premiere, "the great fuss and the large amount of money for the bells have constituted an additional folly, because it passes completely unnoticed". Nevertheless, the bells provide a source of trouble and expense to opera companies performing Tosca to this day.

In act 2, when Tosca sings offstage the cantata that celebrates the supposed defeat of Napoleon, Puccini was tempted to follow the text of Sardou's play and use the music of Giovanni Paisiello, before finally writing his own imitation of Paisello's style. It was not until 29 September 1899 that Puccini was able to mark the final page of the score as completed. Despite the notation, there was additional work to be done, such as the shepherd boy's song at the start of act 3. Puccini, who always sought to put local colour in his works, wanted that song to be in Roman dialect. The composer asked a friend to have a "good romanesco poet" write some words; eventually the poet and folklorist Luigi "Giggi" Zanazzo (it) wrote the verse which, after slight modification, was placed in the opera.

In October 1899, Ricordi realized that some of the music for Cavaradossi's act 3 aria, "O dolci mani" was borrowed from music Puccini had cut from his early opera, Edgar and demanded changes. Puccini defended his music as expressive of what Cavaradossi must be feeling at that point, and offered to come to Milan to play and sing act 3 for the publisher. Ricordi was overwhelmed by the completed act 3 prelude, which he received in early November, and softened his views, though he was still not completely happy with the music for "O dolci mani". In any event time was too short before the scheduled January 1900 premiere to make any further changes.



Caruso as Cavaradossi. Passed over for the role at the premiere, he sang it many times subsequently.

Reception and performance history
Premiere

By December 1899, Tosca was in rehearsal at the Teatro Costanzi. Because of the Roman setting, Ricordi arranged a Roman premiere for the opera, even though this meant that Arturo Toscanini could not conduct it as Puccini had hoped—Toscanini was fully engaged at La Scala in Milan. Leopoldo Mugnone was appointed to conduct. The accomplished (but temperamental) soprano Hariclea Darclée was selected for the title role; Eugenio Giraldoni, whose father had originated multiple Verdi roles, became the first Scarpia. The young Enrico Caruso had hoped to create Cavaradossi, but was passed over in favour of the more experienced Emilio De Marchi. The performance was to be directed by Nino Vignuzzi, with stage designs by Adolfo Hohenstein.

At the time of the premiere, Italy had experienced political and social unrest for several years. The start of the Holy Year in December 1899 attracted the religious to the city, but also brought threats from anarchists and other anticlericals. Police received warnings of an anarchist bombing of the theatre, and instructed Mugnone (who had survived a theatre bombing in Barcelona), that in an emergency he was to strike up the royal march. The unrest caused the premiere to be postponed by one day, to 14 January.

By 1900, the premiere of a Puccini opera was a national event. Many Roman dignitaries attended, as did Queen Margherita, though she arrived late, after the first act. The Prime Minister of Italy, Luigi Pelloux was present, with several members of his cabinet. A number of Puccini's operatic rivals were there, including Franchetti, Pietro Mascagni, Francesco Cilea and Ildebrando Pizzetti. Shortly after the curtain was raised there was a disturbance in the back of the theatre, caused by latecomers attempting to enter the auditorium, and a shout of "Bring down the curtain!", at which Mugnone stopped the orchestra. A few moments later the opera began again, and proceeded without further disturbance.

The performance, while not quite the triumph that Puccini had hoped for, was generally successful, with numerous encores. Much of the critical and press reaction was lukewarm, often blaming Illica's libretto. In response, Illica condemned Puccini for treating his librettists "like stagehands" and reducing the text to a shadow of its original form. Nevertheless, any public doubts about Tosca soon vanished; the premiere was followed by twenty performances, all given to packed houses.



Maria Callas and Tito Gobbi, act 2, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London 1964

Subsequent productions
The Milan premiere at La Scala took place under Toscanini on 17 March 1900. Darclée and Giraldoni reprised their roles; the prominent tenor Giuseppe Borgatti replaced De Marchi as Cavaradossi. The opera was a great success at La Scala, and played to full houses. Puccini travelled to London for the British premiere at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, on 12 July, with Milka Ternina and Fernando De Lucia as the doomed lovers and Antonio Scotti as Scarpia. Puccini wrote that Tosca was "[a] complete triumph", and Ricordi's London representative quickly signed a contract to take Tosca to New York. The premiere at the Metropolitan Opera (the "Met") was on 4 February 1901, with De Lucia's replacement by Giuseppe Cremonini the only change from the London cast. For its French premiere at the Opéra-Comique on 13 October 1903, the 72-year-old Sardou took charge of all the action on the stage. Puccini was delighted with the public's reception of the work in Paris, despite adverse comments from critics. The opera was subsequently premiered at venues throughout Europe, the Americas, Australia and the Far East; by the outbreak of war in 1914 it had been performed in more than 50 cities worldwide.

Among the prominent early Toscas was Emmy Destinn, who sang the role regularly in a long-standing partnership with the tenor Enrico Caruso. Maria Jeritza, over many years at the Met and in Vienna, brought her own distinctive style to the role, and was said to be Puccini's ideal Tosca. Jeritza was the first to deliver "Vissi d'arte" from a prone position, having fallen to the stage while eluding the grasp of Scarpia. This was a great success, and Jeritza sang the aria lying down thereafter. Of her successors, opera enthusiasts tend to consider Maria Callas as the supreme interpreter of the role, largely on the basis of her performances at the Royal Opera House in 1964, with Tito Gobbi as Scarpia. This production, by Franco Zeffirelli, remained in continuous use at Covent Garden for more than 40 years until replaced in 2006 by a new staging, which premiered with Angela Gheorghiu. Callas had first sung Tosca at age 18 in a performance given in Greek, in Athens on 27 August 1942. Tosca was also her last on-stage operatic role, in a special charity performance at the Royal Opera House on 7 May 1965.

Among non-traditional productions, in 1996 at La Scala Luca Ronconi used distorted and fractured scenery to represent the twists of fate reflected in the plot. Jonathan Miller, in a 1986 production for the 49th Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, transferred the action to Nazi-occupied Rome in 1944, with Scarpia as head of the fascist police. In Philipp Himmelmann's production on the Lake Stage at the Bregenz Festival in 2007 the act 1 set, designed by Johannes Leiacker, was dominated by a huge Orwellian "Big Brother" eye. The iris opens and closes to reveal surreal scenes beyond the action. This production updates the story to a modern Mafia scenario, with special effects "worthy of a Bond film".

In 1992 a television version of the opera was filmed at the locations prescribed by Puccini, at the times of day at which each act takes place. Featuring Catherine Malfitano, Plácido Domingo and Ruggero Raimondi, the performance was broadcast live throughout Europe. Luciano Pavarotti, who sang Cavaradossi from the late 1970s, appeared in a special performance in Rome on 14 January 2000, to celebrate the opera's centenary with Domingo as conductor. Pavarotti's last stage performance was as Cavaradossi at the Met, on 13 March 2004.

Early Cavaradossis played the part as if the painter believed that he was reprieved, and would survive the "mock" execution. Beniamino Gigli, who performed the role many times in his forty-year operatic career, was one of the first to assume that the painter knows, or strongly suspects, that he will be shot. Gigli wrote in his autobiography: "he is certain that these are their last moments together on earth, and that he is about to die". Domingo, the dominant Cavaradossi of the 1970s and 1980s, concurred, stating in a 1985 interview that he had long played the part that way. Gobbi, who in his later years often directed the opera, commented, "Unlike Floria, Cavaradossi knows that Scarpia never yields, though he pretends to believe in order to delay the pain for Tosca."

Critical reception
The enduring popularity of Tosca has not been matched by consistent critical enthusiasm. After the premiere, Ippolito Valetta of Nueva antologia wrote, "[Puccini] finds in his palette all colours, all shades; in his hands, the instrumental texture becomes completely supple, the gradations of sonority are innumerable, the blend unfailingly grateful to the ear." However, one critic described act 2 as overly long and wordy; another echoed Illica and Giacosa in stating that the rush of action did not permit enough lyricism, to the great detriment of the music. A third called the opera "three hours of noise".

The critics gave the work a generally kinder reception in London, where The Times called Puccini "a master in the art of poignant expression", and praised the "wonderful skill and sustained power" of the music. In The Musical Times, Puccini's score was admired for its sincerity and "strength of utterance." However, after the 1903 Paris opening, the composer Paul Dukas thought the work lacked cohesion and style, while Gabriel Fauré was offended by "disconcerting vulgarities". More recently the musicologist Joseph Kerman described Tosca as a "shabby little shocker." Veteran critic Ernest Newman, while acknowledging the "enormously difficult business of boiling [Sardou's] play down for operatic purposes," writes that the subtleties of Sardou's original plot are handled "very lamely", so that "much of what happens, and why, is unintelligible to the spectator". Overall, however, Newman delivers a more positive judgement: "[Puccini's] operas are to some extent a mere bundle of tricks, but no one else has performed the same tricks nearly as well". Opera scholar Julian Budden remarks on Puccini's "inept handling of the political element", but still hails the work as "a triumph of pure theatre". Music critic Charles Osborne ascribes Tosca's immense popularity with audiences to the taut effectiveness of its melodramatic plot, the opportunities given to its three leading characters to shine vocally and dramatically, and the presence of two great arias in "Vissi d'arte" and "E lucevan le stelle". The work remains popular today: according to Operabase, it ranks as fifth in the world with 537 performances given in the five seasons 2009/10 to 2013/14.
 

Music
General style

By the end of the 19th century the classic form of opera structure, in which arias, duets and other set-piece vocal numbers are interspersed with passages of recitative or dialogue, had been largely abandoned, even in Italy. Operas were "through-composed", with a continuous stream of music which in some cases eliminated all identifiable set-pieces. In what critic Edward Greenfield calls the "Grand Tune" concept, Puccini retains a limited number of set-pieces, distinguished from their musical surroundings by their memorable melodies. Even in the passages linking these "Grand Tunes", Puccini maintains a strong degree of lyricism and only rarely resorts to recitative.

Budden describes Tosca as the most Wagnerian of Puccini's scores, in its use of musical leitmotifs. Unlike Wagner, Puccini does not develop or modify his motifs, nor weave them into the music symphonically, but uses them to refer to characters, objects and ideas, and as reminders within the narrative. The most potent of these motifs is the sequence of three very loud and strident chords which open the opera and which represent the evil character of Scarpia—or perhaps, Charles Osborne proposes, the violent atmosphere that pervades the entire opera. Budden has suggested that Scarpia's tyranny, lechery and lust form "the dynamic engine that ignites the drama". Other motifs identify Tosca herself, the love of Tosca and Cavaradossi, the fugitive Angelotti, the semi-comical character of the sacristan in act 1 and the theme of torture in act 2.

Act 1

The opera begins without any prelude; the opening chords of the Scarpia motif lead immediately to the agitated appearance of Angelotti and the enunciation of the "fugitive" motif. The sacristan's entry, accompanied by his sprightly buffo theme, lifts the mood, as does the generally light-hearted colloquy with Cavaradossi which follows after the latter's entrance. This leads to the first of the "Grand Tunes", Cavaradossi's "Recondita armonia" with its sustained high B flat, accompanied by the sacristan's grumbling counter-melody. The domination, in that aria, of themes which will be repeated in the love duet make it clear that though the painting may incorporate the Marchesa's features, Tosca is the ultimate inspiration of his work. Cavaradossi's dialogue with Angelotti is interrupted by Tosca's arrival, signalled by her motif which incorporates, in Newman's words, "the feline, caressing cadence so characteristic of her." Though Tosca enters violently and suspiciously, the music paints her devotion and serenity. According to Budden, there is no contradiction: Tosca's jealousy is largely a matter of habit, which her lover does not take too seriously.

After Tosca's "Non la sospiri" and the subsequent argument inspired by her jealousy, the sensuous character of the love duet "Qual'occhio" provides what opera writer Burton Fisher describes as "an almost erotic lyricism that has been called pornophony". The brief scene in which the sacristan returns with the choristers to celebrate Napoleon's supposed defeat provides almost the last carefree moments in the opera; after the entrance of Scarpia to his menacing theme, the mood becomes sombre, then steadily darker. As the police chief interrogates the sacristan, the "fugitive" motif recurs three more times, each time more emphatically, signalling Scarpia's success in his investigation. In Scarpia's exchanges with Tosca the sound of tolling bells, interwoven with the orchestra, creates an almost religious atmosphere, for which Puccini draws on music from his then unpublished Mass of 1880. The final scene in the act is a juxtaposition of the sacred and the profane, as Scarpia's lustful reverie is sung alongside the swelling Te Deum chorus. He joins with the chorus in the final statement "Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur" ("Everlasting Father, all the earth worships thee"), before the act ends with a thunderous restatement of the Scarpia motif.



Emmy Destinn in the role of Tosca, c. 1910
 

Act 2

Woman standing in a dramatic pose, right arm raised, left arm holding a large bouquet. She is wearing a long formal gown and a wide-brimmed hat.

Fisher has observed that Puccini's was a tragic muse; in the second act of Tosca, according to Newman, he rises to his greatest height as a master of the musical macabre. The act begins quietly, with Scarpia musing on the forthcoming downfall of Angelotti and Cavaradossi, while in the background a gavotte is played in a distant quarter of the Farnese Palace. For this music Puccini adapted a fifteen-year-old student exercise by his late brother, Michele, stating that in this way his brother could live again through him. In the dialogue with Spoletta, the "torture" motif—an "ideogram of suffering", according to Budden—is heard for the first time as a foretaste of what is to come. As Cavaradossi is brought in for interrogation, Tosca's voice is heard with the offstage chorus singing a cantata, "[its] suave strains contrast[ing] dramatically with the increasing tension and ever-darkening colour of the stage action". The cantata is most likely the Cantata a Giove, in the literature referred to as a lost work of Puccini's from 1897.

Osborne describes the scenes that follow—Cavaradossi's interrogation, his torture, Scarpia's sadistic tormenting of Tosca—as Puccini's musical equivalent of grand guignol to which Cavaradossi's brief "Vittoria! Vittoria!" on the news of Napoleon's victory gives only partial relief. Scarpia's aria "Già, mi dicon venal" ("Yes, they say I am venal") is closely followed by Tosca's "Vissi d'arte". A lyrical andante based on Tosca's act 1 motif, this is perhaps the opera's best-known aria, yet was regarded by Puccini as a mistake; he considered eliminating it since it held up the action. Fisher calls it "a Job-like prayer questioning God for punishing a woman who has lived unselfishly and righteously". In the act's finale, Newman likens the orchestral turmoil which follows Tosca's stabbing of Scarpia to the sudden outburst after the slow movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. After Tosca's contemptuous "E avanti a lui tremava tutta Roma!" ("All Rome trembled before him"), sung on a middle C♯ monotone  (sometimes spoken), the music gradually fades, ending "the most impressively macabre scene in all opera." The final notes in the act are those of the Scarpia motif, softly, in a minor key.



The execution of Cavaradossi at the end of act 3. Soldiers fire, as Tosca looks away.
Photograph of a pre-1914 production by the Metropolitan Opera.

Act 3

The third act's tranquil beginning provides a brief respite from the drama. An introductory 16-bar theme for the horns will later be sung by Cavaradossi and Tosca in their final duet. The orchestral prelude which follows portrays the Roman dawn; the pastoral aura is accentuated by the shepherd boy's song, and the sounds of sheep bells and church bells, the authenticity of the latter validated by Puccini's early morning visits to Rome. Themes reminiscent of Scarpia, Tosca and Cavaradossi emerge in the music, which changes tone as the drama resumes with Cavaradossi's entrance, to an orchestral statement of what becomes the melody of his aria "E lucevan le stelle".

This is a farewell to love and life, "an anguished lament and grief built around the words 'muoio disperato' (I die in despair)". Puccini insisted on the inclusion of these words, and later stated that admirers of the aria had treble cause to be grateful to him: for composing the music, for having the lyrics written, and "for declining expert advice to throw the result in the waste-paper basket". The lovers' final duet "Amaro sol per te", which concludes with the act's opening horn music, did not equate with Ricordi's idea of a transcendental love duet which would be a fitting climax to the opera. Puccini justified his musical treatment by citing Tosca's preoccupation with teaching Cavaradossi to feign death.

In the execution scene which follows, a theme emerges, the incessant repetition of which reminded Newman of the Transformation Music which separates the two parts of act 1 in Wagner's Parsifal. In the final bars, as Tosca evades Spoletta and leaps to her death, the theme of "E lucevan le stelle" is played tutta forze (as loudly as possible). This choice of ending has been strongly criticised by analysts, mainly because of its specific association with Cavaradossi rather than Tosca. Joseph Kerman mocked the final music, "Tosca leaps, and the orchestra screams the first thing that comes into its head." Budden, however, argues that it is entirely logical to end this dark opera on its blackest theme. According to historian and former opera singer Susan Vandiver Nicassio: "The conflict between the verbal and the musical clues gives the end of the opera a twist of controversy that, barring some unexpected discovery among Puccini's papers, can never truly be resolved."

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
 
 
 
Puccini - Tosca - Kabaivanska, Domingo, Milnes - Subtítulos en Español
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tosca 2004 Ruggero Raimondi Daniela Dessi
 
Tosca Ruggero Raimondi Daniela Dessi Fabio Armiliato Teatro Real de Madri rg Maurizio Benini
 
 
 
 
 
 
Luciano Pavarotti singing Placido Domingo conducting Puccini - Tosca - 2000 Salazar, Zeffirelli
 
Floria Tosca - Ines Salazar
Mario Cavaradossi - Luciano Pavarotti
Il barone Scarpia - Juan (Joan) Pons
Il Sagristano - Enzo Dara
Cesare Angelotti - Felipe Bou
Spoletta - Luca Casalin
Sciarrone - Roberto Accurso
Un pastore - Michael Alfonsi
Un carceriere - Filippo Morace

Conductor Plácido Domingo - 2000(LI)
Orchestra - Teatro dell'Opera di Roma
Chorus - Teatro dell'Opera di Roma

 
 
w/td>
 
 
 
 
Angela GHEORGHIU - Vissi d'arte - Tosca - Puccini
 
Angela Gheorghiu sings the wonderful and moving aria "Vissi d'arte" in Puccini's opera 'Tosca'. Conducted by Antonio Pappano.
 
 
 
 
 
 
"Vissi d'arte," (Tosca), Angela Gheorghiu, Washington, D.C. [2009]
 
"Vissi d'arte" from "Tosca"
Angela Gheorghiu, Kennedy Center Honors Grace Bumbry, 2009
 
 
 
 
 
 
María Callas - Puccini "Vissi d'arte" (Tosca)
 
María Callas "Vissi d´arte" Puccini
Tosca Act. II
París Conservatoire Orchestra
Conducted by Georges Prètre
 
 
 
 
 
 
Puccini - Tosca - E lucevan le stelle - Pavarotti as Cavaradossi
 
E lucevan le stelle is the romanza of Mario Cavaradossi in the 3rd act of Tosca, the opera composed by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. It is sung by Tosca's lover, the painter Mario Cavaradossi (tenor), while waiting for his coming execution. Written in B minor, is one of the most famous opera arias.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Placido Domingo - Tosca - E lucevan le stelle
 
1992, Conductor: Zubin Mehta.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Angela Gheorghiu - TOSCA final scene
 
 
 
 
 
 

Poster for Giacomo Puccini’s production of the opera Madama Butterfly, c. 1900.
 
 
Madama Butterfly - 1910
 
 
Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly) is an opera in three acts (originally two acts) by Giacomo Puccini, with an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. The libretto of the opera is based in part on the short story "Madame Butterfly" (1898) by John Luther Long—which in turn was based partially on stories told to Long by his sister Jennie Correll and partially on the semi-autobiographical 1887 French novel Madame Chrysanthème by Pierre Loti.

Long's short story was dramatized by David Belasco as a one-act play, Madame Butterfly: A Tragedy of Japan (1900). After premiering in New York, Belasco's play moved to London, where Puccini saw it in the summer of 1900.

The original version of the opera, in two acts, had its premiere on 17 February 1904 at La Scala in Milan. It was very poorly received despite the presence of such notable singers as soprano Rosina Storchio, tenor Giovanni Zenatello and baritone Giuseppe De Luca in the lead roles. This was due in large part to the late completion and inadequate time for rehearsals. Puccini revised the opera, splitting the second act into two acts and making other changes. On May 28, 1904, this version was performed in Brescia and was a huge success.

Between 1915 and 1920, Japan's best-known opera singer Tamaki Miura won international fame for her performances as Cio-Cio San. Her statue, along with that of Puccini, can be found in the Glover Garden in Nagasaki, the city where the opera is set.

Madama Butterfly is a staple of the standard operatic repertoire for companies around the world, ranking 6th in the Operabase list of the most-performed operas worldwide (Puccini's La Bohème and Tosca rank 3rd and 5th resp.) .

 


Geraldine Farrar as Madama Butterfly, 1907



Production history

Puccini wrote five versions of the opera; the original two-act version, which was presented at the world premiere at La Scala on 17 February 1904, was withdrawn after the disastrous premiere. Puccini then substantially rewrote it, this time in three acts. This second version[9] was performed on 28 May 1904 in Brescia, where it was a great success. It was this second version that premiered in the United States in 1906, first in Washington, D.C., in October, and then in New York in November, performed by Henry Savage's New English Opera Company (so named because it performed in English-language translations).

In 1906, Puccini wrote a third version, which was performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. In 1907, Puccini made several changes in the orchestral and vocal scores, and this became the fourth version, which was performed in Paris.

In 1907, Puccini made his final revisions to the opera in a fifth version, which has become known as the "Standard Version" and is the one which is most often performed around the world. However, the original 1904 version is occasionally performed as well.

Performance history
Premieres of the standard version in major opera houses throughout the world include those in the Teatro de la Opera de Buenos Aires on 2 July 1904, under Arturo Toscanini, this being the first performance in the world outside Italy. Its first performance in Britain was in London on 10 July 1905 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, while the first US performance was presented in English on October 15, 1906, in Washington, D.C., at the Columbia Theater. The first performance in New York took place on 12 November of the same year at the Garden Theater. The Metropolitan Opera first performed the work on February 11, 1907 in the presence of the composer with Geraldine Farrar as Cio-Cio San, Enrico Caruso as Pinkerton, Louise Homer as Suzuki, Antonio Scotti as Sharpless, and Arturo Vigna conducting. Three years later, the first Australian performance was presented at the Theatre Royal in Sydney on 26 March 1910, starring Amy Castles.


Synopsis

Time: 1904.
Place: Nagasaki, Japan.

Act 1
In 1904, a U.S. Naval officer named Pinkerton rents a house on a hill in Nagasaki, Japan, for him and his soon-to-be wife, "Butterfly". Her real name is Ciocio-san, (cio-cio, pronounced "chocho": the Japanese word for "butterfly" is chō 蝶). She is a 15-year-old Japanese girl whom he is marrying for convenience, since he intends to leave her once he finds a proper American wife, and since Japanese divorce laws are very lax. The wedding is to take place at the house. Butterfly had been so excited to marry an American that she had earlier secretly converted to Christianity. After the wedding ceremony, her uninvited uncle, a bonze, who has found out about her conversion, comes to the house, curses her and orders all the guests to leave, which they do while renouncing her. Pinkerton and Butterfly sing a love duet and prepare to spend their first night together.

Act 2
Three years later, Butterfly is still waiting for Pinkerton to return, as he had left shortly after their wedding. Her maid Suzuki keeps trying to convince her that he is not coming back, but Butterfly will not listen to her. Goro, the marriage broker who arranged her marriage, keeps trying to marry her off again, but she won't listen to him either. The American Consul, Sharpless, comes to the house with a letter which he has received from Pinkerton which asks him to break some news to Butterfly: that Pinkerton is coming back to Japan, but Sharpless cannot bring himself to finish it because Butterfly becomes very excited to hear that Pinkerton is coming back. Sharpless asks Butterfly what she would do if Pinkerton were not to return. She then reveals that she gave birth to Pinkerton's son after he had left and asks Sharpless to tell him.

From the hill house, Butterfly sees Pinkerton's ship arriving in the harbour. She and Suzuki prepare for his arrival, and then they wait. Suzuki and the child fall asleep, but Butterfly stays up all night waiting for him to arrive.

Act 3
Suzuki wakes up in the morning and Butterfly finally falls asleep. Sharpless and Pinkerton arrive at the house, along with Pinkerton's new American wife, Kate. They have come because Kate has agreed to raise the child. But, as Pinkerton sees how Butterfly has decorated the house for his return, he realizes he has made a huge mistake. He admits that he is a coward and cannot face her, leaving Suzuki, Sharpless and Kate to break the news to Butterfly. Agreeing to give up her child if Pinkerton comes himself to see her, she then prays to statues of her ancestral gods, says goodbye to her son, and blindfolds him. She places a small American flag into his hands and goes behind a screen, cutting her throat with her father's hara-kiri knife. Pinkerton rushes in, but he is too late, and Butterfly dies.

Synopsis (musical numbers)
This is a synopsis of the standard version of the opera, with its arias, duets, trios, choruses, etc. The synopsis is organized into the 34 tracks that constitute most recordings.

Act 1
1. A short orchestral prelude with a busy, fugal opening theme, followed by a second theme of more overtly Japanese character, leads straight into the opening scene.

2. E soffitto e pareti ("And ceiling and walls"). Pinkerton, a U.S. Naval Officer on USS Abraham Lincoln, and Goro, a Japanese marriage broker, are inspecting a small house which sits on a hill and overlooks the bay. Goro has found the house for Pinkerton and his bride, and is showing him the house, with its sliding doors and small garden. The butler, the cook and the bride's maid, Suzuki, enter the garden and are introduced to Pinkerton. After they leave, Goro tells Pinkerton that everything is now ready and that his intended bride, a girl of 15 called Cio-Cio San (nicknamed Butterfly), will arrive soon, as will the American Consul, the marriage Registrar and all the bride's relatives, except her uncle. Her uncle is a priest and refuses to attend the wedding ceremony. Sharpless, the American Consul, has climbed up the hill from the city. He enters the garden, greets Pinkerton and Goro, and admires the view that overlooks Nagasaki's harbor and the sea. Pinkerton tells Sharpless that he has just purchased the little house for 999 years, with the right every month to cancel the agreement. Pinkerton explains that, in Japan, the law is very loose.

3. Dovunque al mondo ("Throughout the world"). As the orchestra plays the opening flourish to "The Star-Spangled Banner" (a musical theme which will characterize Pinkerton throughout the opera), Pinkerton tells Sharpless that, throughout the world, the Yankee wanderer is not satisfied until he captures the flowers of every shore and the love of every beautiful woman. "So I am marrying in the Japanese style: for 999 years, but with the right to cancel the marriage each month". Sharpless is critical of Pinkerton's beliefs, but they stand and agree, "America forever". Pinkerton tells Goro to bring Butterfly to him. When Goro leaves, Sharpless asks Pinkerton if he is really in love.

4. Amore o grillo ("Love or fancy"). Pinkerton admits to Sharpless that he does not know whether he is really in love or just infatuated, but he is bewitched with Butterfly's innocence, charm and beauty; she is like a butterfly fluttering around and then landing with silent grace, so beautiful "that I must have her, even though I injure her butterfly wings". Sharpless tells Pinkerton that he heard Butterfly speak, when she visited the Consulate, and he asks Pinkerton not to pluck off her delicate wings. However, Pinkerton tells Sharpless that he will do "no great harm, even if Butterfly falls in love." Sharpless takes his glass of whisky and offers a toast to Pinkerton's family at home, to which Pinkerton adds, "and to the day when I will have a real wedding and marry a real American bride." Goro re-enters to tell Pinkerton and Sharpless that Butterfly's friends are coming.


5. Ancora un passo ("One step more"). Butterfly can be heard guiding her friends to the top of the hill, jubilantly telling them that "Over land and sea, there floats the joyful breath of spring. I am the happiest girl in Japan, or rather in the world." Butterfly and her friends enter the garden. She recognizes Pinkerton and points him out to her friends, and all bow down before him.

6. Gran ventura ("May good fortune attend you"). Butterfly greets Pinkerton, who asks about her difficult climb up the hill. Butterfly says that, for a happy bride, the wait is even more difficult. Pinkerton thanks her for the compliment but cuts her off as she continues to compliment him further. Butterfly tells Pinkerton and Sharpless that her family is from Nagasaki and was once very wealthy.

7. L'Imperial Commissario ("The Imperial Commissioner"). Goro announces the arrival of both the Grand Commissioner and the Registrar of marriages. Butterfly greets her relatives, who have arrived for the wedding. Pinkerton laughs at the sight and whispers to Sharpless, "This is a farce: all these will be my new relatives for only a month." Sharpless tells him that, even though he considers the marriage contract a farce, she considers it very real. Meanwhile, Butterfly tells her relatives how much she loves Pinkerton. One of her cousins says that Goro first offered Pinkerton to her, but she refused. Butterfly's relatives say that he is like a king, so rich and so handsome, and then, at a sign from Butterfly, all her friends and relatives bow to Pinkerton and walk out to the garden. Pinkerton takes Butterfly's hand and leads her into the house.

8. Vieni, amor mio! ("Come, my love!"). From her sleeve, Butterfly brings out to show Pinkerton all of her treasures, which include only a few handkerchiefs, a mirror, a sash, and other trinkets. Then she shows him a long, narrow case, which she tells him holds her only sacred treasure, but she cannot open it, because there are too many people around. Goro whispers to Pinkerton that the case contains a "gift" from the Mikado to Butterfly's father, inviting him to commit seppuku. Butterfly continues to show Pinkerton her other little treasures, including several little statues: "They are the spirits of my ancestors."

9. Ieri son salita tutta sola ("Yesterday, I went all alone"). Butterfly tells Pinkerton that yesterday, in secret and without telling her uncle, who is a Buddhist priest, the Bonze, she went to the Consulate, where she abandoned her ancestral religion and converted to Pinkerton's religion. "I am following my destiny and, full of humility, bow to Mr. Pinkerton's God."

10. Tutti zitti ("Quiet everyone"). Everything is ready, and Goro tells everyone to be quiet. The Commissioner conducts the brief ceremony and witnesses Pinkerton and Butterfly sign the official papers.

11. Madama Butterfly ("Madam Butterfly"). The wedding celebration begins, and everyone wishes happiness to the new couple. After a short while, Sharpless pleads with Pinkerton not to be cruel, and he leaves with the Commissioner and the Registrar. Pinkerton, Butterfly and their guests continue the celebration with many toasts.

12. Cio-Cio San! ("Cio-Cio San"). The toasts are interrupted by an angry voice offstage, saying "Cio-Cio San! Cio-Cio San! You are damned." Butterfly's uncle, the Bonze, has discovered that Butterfly has renounced her ancestral religion, and he has arrived to deliver his curse. He stands over Butterfly, shouting his curses at her, when Pinkerton intervenes to stop him. The Bonze is shocked at the American, and he orders all the guests to leave with him, saying to Butterfly, "You have renounced us, and we renounce you." All the guests shout their renunciation as they rush away. The night is falling. Butterfly is weeping. Pinkerton consoles her.

13. Bimba, Bimba, non piangere ("Sweetheart, sweetheart, do not weep"). (This begins the famous long love duet, which ends act 1.) Pinkerton tells Butterfly that "All your relatives and all the priests in Japan are not worth the tears from your loving, beautiful eyes." Butterfly smiles through her tears, "You mean that? I won't cry any more. And I do not worry about their curses, because your words sound so sweet." They hear Suzuki offstage, saying her evening prayers.

13A. Viene la sera ("Night is falling"). (The long duet continues.) Pinkerton tells Butterfly that the "Night is falling", and Butterfly answers that "with it comes darkness and peace." Pinkerton claps his hands, and the three servants enter and close up the house. Then Suzuki helps Butterfly dress for her wedding night. Pinkerton watches Butterfly, as she watches him, but her happiness is tempered, as "still the angry voice curses me. Butterfly is renounced – renounced but happy".

14. Bimba dagli occhi ("Sweetheart, with eyes..."). (The long duet continues.) Pinkerton admires the beautiful Butterfly and tells her, "you have not yet told me that you love me." Butterfly replies that she does not want to say the words, "for fear of dying at hearing them!" She tells him that now she is happy.

15. Vogliatemi bene ("Love me, please."). (The long duet concludes.) Butterfly pleads with Pinkerton to "Love me, please." She asks whether it is true that, in foreign lands, a man will catch a butterfly and pin its wings to a table. Pinkerton admits that it is true but explains, "Do you know why? So that she'll not fly away." He embraces her and says, "I have caught you. You are mine." She replies, "Yes, for life."

Act 2
16. E Izaghi ed Izanami ("And Izanagi and Izanami"). As the curtain opens, three years have passed. Suzuki kneels in front of a Buddha, praying that Butterfly will stop crying. Butterfly hears and tells her that the Japanese gods are fat and lazy, and that the American God will answer quickly, if only He knows where they are living. Suzuki tells Butterfly that their money has almost run out and, if Pinkerton does not return quickly, they will suffer in a bad way. Butterfly assures Suzuki that Pinkerton will return, because he took care to arrange for the Consul to pay the rent and to fit the house with locks to keep out the mosquitoes, relatives and troubles. Suzuki tells Butterfly that foreign husbands never return to their Japanese wives, but Butterfly replies furiously that Pinkerton had assured her, on the very last morning they were together, "Oh, Butterfly, my little wife, I shall return with the roses, when the earth is full of joy, when the robin makes his nest." Suzuki begins quietly to weep.

17. Un bel dì ("One beautiful day"). In this, the opera's most famous aria (and one of the most popular works in the soprano repertoire), Butterfly says that, "one beautiful day", they will see a puff of smoke on the far horizon. Then a ship will appear and enter the harbor. She will not go down to meet him but will wait on the hill for him to come. After a long time, she will see in the far distance a man beginning the walk out of the city and up the hill. When he arrives, he will call "Butterfly" from a distance, but she will not answer, partly for fun and partly not to die from the excitement of the first meeting. Then he will speak the names he used to call her: "Little one. Dear wife. Orange blossom." Butterfly promises Suzuki that this will happen. Suzuki departs, as Sharpless and Goro arrive in the garden.

18. C'e. Entrate. ("She is there. Go in."). Sharpless greets her, "Excuse me, Madam Butterfly." Without looking to see who is speaking, Butterfly corrects him, "Madam Pinkerton, please." As she turns and sees that it is Sharpless who has spoken, she exclaims in happiness, "My very dear Consul. Welcome to this American home." Sharpless draws a letter from his pocket and tells her, "Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton has written to me." Sharpless tells her that Pinkerton is perfectly well, and she says, "I am the happiest woman in Japan." Butterfly asks him, "When do the robins make their nests in America?" The question confuses Sharpless, so Butterfly explains that Pinkerton promised to return to her "when the robin builds his nest again." She says that, in Japan, the robin has already built his nest three times, and she asks if "over there he nests less frequently." Sharpless, mortified, tells her that he does not know because he has not studied ornithology. At this, Butterfly hears Goro laugh, and she whispers to Sharpless that Goro is a bad man. She tells him that, after Pinkerton left, Goro came to her many times "with presents to palm off this or that husband on me." She says that Goro now wants her to agree to marry the wealthy man Yamadori, who then is arriving with his entourage to a musical accompaniment that quotes the same Japanese folk tune (Miyasan) that Gilbert and Sullivan set as "Mi-ya sama" in The Mikado.

19. Yamadori, ancor le pene ("Yamadori, are you not yet…"). Butterfly sees Yamadori and asks him if he is not going to give up pursuing her, because "You have already had many different wives." Yamadori admits that he married all of them, but says that he divorced them too. In the meantime, Sharpless gives up trying to read Pinkerton's letter to Butterfly, and he puts the letter back in his pocket. Goro tells Sharpless that Butterfly thinks that she is still married. Butterfly hears this and says, "I dont think I am; I am." When Goro tries to tell her about the Japanese law of marriage, Butterfly interrupts and tells him that the Japanese law is not the law of her country, the United States. She tells Goro that she understands how easy divorce is under Japanese law, "but in America, you cannot do that." She turns sharply and asks Sharpless, "Am I correct?" Sharpless is embarrassed and must admit that she is correct. Butterfly turns triumphantly to Suzuki and asks that she serve tea. Yamadori, Sharpless and Goro quietly discuss Butterfly's blindness. Goro whispers that Pinkerton's ship is expected to arrive soon, and Sharpless explains that Pinkerton is too embarrassed to meet Butterfly and has asked Sharpless to handle it. Yamadori, offended, departs with his grand entourage and Goro. Sharpless remains, sits next to Butterfly, and takes the letter out of his pocket once more.

20. Ora a noi. ("Now for us."). Sharpless begins to read Pinkerton's letter to Butterfly: "My friend, will you find that lovely flower of a girl…" Butterfly cannot control her happiness, as he continues, "since that happy times, three years have passed, and Butterfly perhaps does not remember me anymore." Butterfly looks at Suzuki and says, "I don't remember him? Suzuki, you tell him!" Sharpless continues, "If she still loves me, if she awaits me, I place myself in your hands so that you may carefully and considerately prepare her …" Butterfly exclaims, "He is coming! When? Soon! Soon!" Sharpless cannot bear to continue. He puts the letter away, muttering to himself, "that devil Pinkerton!" Sharpless asks her gently, "Butterfly, what would you do if he never returned?" Butterfly is shocked.

21. Due cose potrei far ("Two things I could do"). Butterfly cries that, if Pinkerton never returned, she would go back to entertaining people with her songs, or, better, die. Sharpless pleads with her to accept the rich offer from Yamadori. Butterfly is upset with Sharpless and instructs Suzuki to show him out. As he begins to leave, Butterfly stops him, apologizes for her anger, and explains that his questions have hurt her "so very, very much!" Then she goes into another room and returns, bringing with her the blonde-haired two-year-old boy who is her constant reminder of her American husband.

22. Ah! M'ha scordata? ("Ah! He has forgotten me?"). Butterfly shows Sharpless her child, and Sharpless asks if Pinkerton knows. Butterfly replies, "No. The child was born when he was away in his big country." She asks Sharpless to write and tell him that his son waits for him. "And then we shall see if he does not hurry over land and sea!" Butterfly kneels in front of her son and asks him, "Do you know that that gentleman had dared to think that your mother would take you in her arms and walk to town, through the wind and rain, to earn your bread and clothes. And she would stretch out her arms to the pitying crowd, crying ‘Listen! Listen to my sad song, For an unhappy mother, your charity. Take pity! And Butterfly – oh, horrible destiny – will dance for you! And as she used to do, the Geisha will sing for you. And her joyful, happy song will end in a sob!" She kneels in front of Sharpless and says that she will never do that, "that trade which leads to dishonor. Death! Death! Never more to dance! Rather would I cut short my life! Ah! Death!"

23. Io scendo al piano. ("I will go now.") Sharpless finally says, "I will go now." Butterfly gives him her hand and this her child's. Sharpless asks the child his name, and Butterfly answers for him, "Today my name is Sorrow. But write and tell Daddy that, the day he returns, my name will be Joy." Sharpless promises to tell Pinkerton. Offstage, Suzuki can be heard shouting, "Snake. Damned toad!" Suzuki enters, pulling Goro with her, and she tells Butterfly, "He buzzes around, the snake. Every day he tells the four winds that no one knows who is the child's father!" Goro explains that, in America, when a child is born with a curse, he will always be rejected by everyone. In a rage, Butterfly runs to the shrine, seizes the dagger and threatens to stab him, "You are lying! You are lying! Say that again, and I will kill you!" Goro flees. Suzuki takes the child to the other room. Butterfly replaces the dagger, goes to her son and says, "You will see, my darling, my Sorrow. You will see, your savior will take us far, far away to his land."

24. Il cannone del porto! ("The cannon at the harbor!", often known as The Flower Duet). Just then a cannon shot is heard. Suzuki and Butterfly watch from the hill as the ship enters the harbor and drops anchor. Then Butterfly sees that the ship is the Abraham Lincoln, and she tells Suzuki, "They were all lying! All of them! I alone knew. Only I, who love him." She continues, "My love, my faith, triumphs completely! He has returned, and he loves me!" She tells Suzuki to prepare a fragrant bath and asks how long she will have to wait for him. "An hour? Two hours, perhaps? The house must be filled with flowers. Everywhere. As the night is full of stars!" Butterfly tells Suzuki to gather all the flowers.

25. Tutti i fior? ("All the flowers?"). Suzuki asks, "All the flowers?" Butterfly says yes, all the flowers from all the bushes and plants and trees. "I want the whole fragrance of Spring in here." They continue to gather flowers and place them everywhere.

26. Or vienmi ad adornar ("Now come to adorn me"). Finally, Butterfly sits at her dressing table and tells Suzuki, "Now, come and adorn me. No, first bring me the child." She puts a touch of rouge on her own and on her child's cheeks and then, as Suzuki does her hair, asks her, "What will they say? My uncle, the priest? All so happy at my misery! And Yamadori, with his pursuit? Ridiculed, disgraced, made foolish, the hateful things!" Butterfly dons the same dress that she wore as a bride, while Suzuki dresses her child. Butterfly tells Suzuki that she wants Pinkerton to see her dressed as she was on the first day "and a red poppy in my hair."

27. Coro a bocca chiusa ("Humming Chorus"). As the off-stage chorus hums a wordless, melancholy tune, Butterfly, her child and Suzuki begin the long wait for Pinkerton to come. Night falls. Suzuki and the baby are soon asleep, but Butterfly keeps her vigil. (There is no intermission between acts 2 and 3 – the action continues without interruption as the "Humming Chorus" ends and morning light appears.)

Act 3
28. Oh eh! Oh eh! ("Heave-ho! Heave-ho!"). Suzuki and the baby are asleep, but Butterfly remains standing and waiting. Distant voices are heard from the bay. Sailors are singing, "Heave-ho! Heave-ho!" The sun rises and fills Butterfly's house with light.

29. Già il sole! ("The Sun's come up!"). Suzuki awakes and is very sad. Butterfly tells her that "He will come." Then she carries her sleeping child into the other room and tells him to sleep, while she too falls asleep. Suzuki waits in the front room and hears a knock at the door. Pinkerton and Sharpless have arrived, but Pinkerton tells Suzuki not to wake Butterfly and asks how Butterfly knew that he had arrived. Suzuki tells him that, for the last three years, Butterfly has studied every ship that entered the port. Sharpless tells Pinkerton, "Did I not tell you so?" Suzuki sees a strange woman in the garden, learns from Sharpless that she is Pinkerton's American wife and collapses to her knees in shock.

30. Io so che sue dolore ("I know that her pain"). While Pinkerton looks at the flowers, the picture of himself and the room that has remained unchanged for three years, Sharpless tells Suzuki that they can do nothing for Butterfly but that they must help her child. Sharpless tells her that Pinkerton's new wife, Kate, wants to care for the child. Suzuki goes into the garden to meet Pinkerton's new wife, while Sharpless reminds Pinkerton, "I told you, didn't I? Do you remember? When she gave you her hand: 'Take care', I said, 'she believes in you'. She has been waiting for you." Pinkerton admits his wrong and leaves Sharpless to tell Butterfly the shameful news.

31. Addio, fiorito asil ("Farewell, flowery refuge"). Pinkerton says "Farewell, flowery refuge of happiness and of love, her gentle face will always haunt me, torturing me endlessly." He admits that he is a coward and cannot face her, and quickly leaves as Suzuki and Kate enter from the garden. Kate is telling Suzuki to assure Butterfly that Kate will look after her child like her own son.

32. Suzuki! Suzuki! ("Suzuki! Suzuki!"). From offstage, Butterfly calls for Suzuki and then enters the room. As she enters, Kate retreats to the garden, so that she will not be seen. She asks Suzuki why she is crying, and then she sees Sharpless and the woman in the garden. She tells Suzuki, "Suzuki, you are so kind. Do not cry. You love me so much. Tell me softly, just 'yes' or 'no' … Is he alive?" When Suzuki answers, "yes", Butterfly understands that Pinkerton is not coming for her and that Kate is his new wife. Butterfly realizes that she must give up her son, and Kate asks her forgiveness. Finally, Butterfly tells Kate, "I will give my child to her only if he comes himself. In half an hour, come up the hill again." Suzuki escorts Kate and Sharpless out, and Butterfly falls weeping.

33. Come una mosca ("Like a little fly"). Butterfly stands, sees Suzuki and tells her to close up the house, because it is too light and spring-like. Then she orders her to go to the other room where the child is playing. Butterfly then kneels before the statue of Buddha and prays to her ancestral gods. She rises, takes down her father's knife, kisses the blade, and reads the inscription.

34. Con onor muore ("To die with honor"). Butterfly reads the inscription on her father's knife: "Who cannot live with honor must die with honor." Butterfly's child enters, but Suzuki does not. Butterfly tells her child not to feel sorrow for his mother's desertion but to keep a faint memory of his mother's face. She bids him farewell, seats him on the floor and blindfolds him gently. She gives him a miniature American flag to wave in greeting to his father, which he does, blindfolded, throughout the following action. Butterfly takes the knife and walks behind the screen. The knife clatters to the floor as Butterfly staggers from behind the screen with a scarf around her neck. She kisses her child and collapses. From outside, Pinkerton cries, "Butterfly!" and rushes in – but it is too late: Butterfly is dead.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
 
 
Madame Butterfly - Puccini
 
 
 
 
 
 
Madama Butterfly - Puccini - Arena di Verona 2004
 
 
 
 
 
 
María Callas | Un bel dì vedremo - Madame Butterfly (Puccini)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Maria Callas Death of Madama Butterfly
 
Describing all her emotions and grief. Recorded in 1957. Conducting Herbert Von Karajan. Tenor - Nicolai Gedda
 
 
 
 
 
 
Maria Callas, "O mio babbino caro" (Puccini)
 
Georges Prêtre, Orchestre National de France, 1965
--
O mio babbino caro
Mi piace è bello, bello
Vo' andare in Porta Rossa
a comperar l'anello
Sì, sì, ci voglio andare
e se l'amassi indarno,
andrei sul Ponte Vecchio,
ma per buttarmi in Arno
Mi struggo e mi tormento
O Dio, vorrei morir!
Babbo, pietà, pietà!
Babbo, pietà di me!
 
 
 
 
 
 
Giacomo Puccini - Madama Butterfly
 
Madama Butterfly, Act II, Part 1: Un bel di vedremo (Butterfly)" by Angela Gheorghiu, Orchestra dell' Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Roma & Antonio Pappano
 
 
 
 
 
 
Montserrat Caballé - O mio babbino caro
 
Montserrat Caballé in concert singing the famous aria from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi. Munich, 1990
 
 
 
 
 
 
Anna Netrebko - Un Bel Di Vedremo (Berlin, 2011)
 
Sommernachtsmusik Concert
Anna Netrebko, Jonas Kaufmann, Erwin Schrott
Berlin, 16.8.2011

Kammerchor Potsdam
Prague Philharmonic
Conductor: Marco Armiliato

 
 
 
 
 
 
Anna Netrebko - O mio babbino caro
 
The Berlin Concert - Live from the Waldbuhne (2006)
Performers: Anna Netrebko, Plácido Domingo, Rolando Villazón

Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Conductor: Marco Armiliato

 
 
 
 
 
 
Kiri te Kanawa - "Un bel di vedremo" - Madama Butterfly
 
Kiri te Kanawa - soprano
Sir John Pritchard - conductor
London Philharmonic Orchestra
 
 
 
 
 
 
Kiri te Kanawa - O mio babbino caro - Puccini
 
Kiri te Kanawa sings O mio babbino caro from Gianni Schicchi composed by Giacomo Puccini.

London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir john Pritchard.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Katherine Jenkins - O mio babbino caro
 
Katherine Jenkins in Concert - Live at Llangollen (2006)
With National Symphony Orchestra, Conductor: Anthony Inglis
 
 
 
 
 
Angela GHEORGHIU - Un bel di vedremo - M Butterfly - Puccini
 
Angela Gheorghiu sings the aria "Un bel dì vedremo", from Puccini's opera 'Madama Butterfly'
(Concert from the Lincoln Center, December 31th, 2005)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sarah Brightman - O Mio Babbino Caro. Puccini - live
 
 
 
 
 
 
     
  Classical Music Timeline

Instruments Through the Ages

Classical Music History - Composers and Masterworks
     
 
 
 

 
 
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