Sunday, February 24, 2002

[2/24/2012] Preview: En route to our final operatic storms, we hear two famous tenor tunes sung by a very famous tenor (continued)


The young Luciano Pavarotti


They're from a December 1967 Turin Radio performance, and now we hear them in their proper order. I switched them for several reasons, not least that they will recur in the Storm Scene in the opposite order. But now we'll hear them in the order in which they actually appear in the opera: first, possibly the most famous of all tenor arias, the Duke of Mantua's "La donna è mobile"; then the shortly-ensuing quartet, led off by the Duke's "Bella figlia dell'amore," in which the Duke woos the young woman who has lured him to this remote dive of an inn, Maddalena, observed from outside by Rigoletto, who has hired her brother to murder the Duke, and Rigoletto's daughter, Gilda, still in love with the philanderer.

(The trick employed by Luciano in the second stanza of the aria, singing just the opening phrase softly and then quickly raising the volume back to a more comfortable level, was a career-long favorite of his. He thought it impressed audiences as interpretive subtlety -- as we see him impart -- in a video-recorded master class -- to a young baritone singing Germont's "Di Provenza" from La Traviata. Of course it could be too that he didn't have much else to say to a baritone.)

VERDI: Rigoletto, Act III:
Aria, Duke of Mantua, "La donna è mobile"
DUKE: Women are as fickle
as feathers in the wind,
simple in speech,
and simple in mind.
Always the lovable,
sweet, laughing face,
but laughing or crying,
the face is false for sure.

If you rely on her
you will regret it,
and if you trust her
you are undone!
Yet none can call himself
fully contented
who has not tasted
love in her arms!

Women are as fickle, etc.
Quartet, "Bella figlia dell'amore"
DUKE: Fairest daughter of love,
I am a slave to your charms;
with but a single word you could
relieve my every pain.
Come, touch my breast and feel
how my heart is racing.
MADDALENA: Ah! Ah! That really makes me laugh;
talk like that is cheap enough.
Believe me, I know exactly
what such play?acting is worth!
I, my fine sir, am quite accustomed
to foolish jokes like this.
GILDA: Ah, these are the loving words
the scoundrel spoke once to me!
O wretched heart betrayed
do not break for sorrow.
RIGOLETTO [to Gilda]: Hush, weeping can do no good...
You are now convinced he was lying.
Hush, and leave it up to me
to hasten our revenge.
It will be quick, it will be deadly,
I know how to deal with him.
Luciano Pavarotti (t), Duke of Mantua; plus in the Quartet: Adriana Lazzari (ms), Maddalena; Margherita Rinaldi (s), Gilda; Piero Cappuccilli (b), Rigoletto; RAI (Turin) Symphony Orchestra, Mario Rossi, cond. Performance broadcast on Dec. 26, 1967


The portion of the storm we heard before the click-through, by the way, was from my much-loved July 1964 DG Rigoletto conducted by Rafael Kubelik, with Ivo Vinco as Sparafucile, Fiorenza Cossotto as Maddalena, Renata Scotto as Gilda, and the chorus and orchestra of La Scala.

For the full scene, note that I chose the Gardelli-Eurodisc recording in good part because it's the most satisfactory CD version I found in my collection that has no internal track points, which in our format would have occasioned track-switching interruptions. The Toscanini performance, from his complete Act III (which we're going to hear on Sunday), was dubbed from LP.

Within this scene note the clarinet sounding the "Bella figlia dell'amore" tune at 1:02 of the Gardelli clip, when Maddalena arrives upstairs in the Duke's (open-air) room, and again at 1:47; then at 2:44 we hear him singing "La donna è mobile" to himself. (The timings are just a second or two or three later in the Toscanini.)

VERDI: Rigoletto: Act III, Storm Scene
RIGOLETTO has come to this remote, dilapidated inn to show GILDA what her dearly beloved is really like and to conclude his "contract" with the hired assassin SPARAFUCILE. Following the Quartet, he instructed GILDA to go home, dress as a man, and leave immediately for Verona.

Scena, Trio, and Storm

RIGOLETTO goes behind the house and returns with SPARAFUCILE, counting out his money for him.

RIGOLETTO: Twenty scudi, you said? Here are ten,
and the rest when the work is finished.
He is staying here?
RIGOLETTO: At midnight I shall return.
I can throw him in the river without help.
RIGOLETTO: No, no, I want to do it myself.
SPARAFUCILE: All right. His name?
RIGOLETTO: Do you want to know mine as well?
He is Crime; I am Punishment.
[He leaves; the sky darkens, it thunders.]
SPARAFUCILE: The storm is getting closer.
The night will be darker.
["Bella figlia dell'amore" tune sounded by clarinet]
DUKE: Maddalena? [Trying to embrace her]
MADDALENA [pushing him away]: Wait -- my brother is coming.
SPARAFUCILE [entering]: It's going to rain soon.
DUKE: So much the better.
You can sleep in the stable...
or in hell … wherever you like.
MADDALENA [softly to the Duke]: Ah no! You must leave.
DUKE [to Maddalena]: In this weather?
SPARAFUCILE [softly to MADDALENA]: It means twenty gold scudi.
[To the DUKE] I'll be glad
to offer you my room.
If you want to see it, let's go up now.
[Taking a lamp, he starts up the stairs.]
DUKE: Good; I’ll be with you in a moment.
[He whispers something to MADDALENA, then follows SPARAFUCILE. Again, "Bella figlia dell'amore" tune sounded by clarinet]
MADDALENA: (Poor lad! He's so handsome!
God! What a night this is!)
DUKE [upstairs, noticing that the loft is open on one side]: We sleep in the open, eh? Good enough!
Good night.
SPARAFUCILE: Sir, may God protect you.
DUKE: We'll sleep a little; I'm tired.
Oh, women are fickle, etc.
[He lays down his hat and sword and stretches out on the bed and falls asleep. MADDALENA, meanwhile, has sat down at the table below. SPARAFUCILE drinks from the bottle which the DUKE left unfinished. Both are silent for a moment, lost in their thoughts.]
MADDALENA: He is really most attractive, this young man.
SPARAFUCILE: Oh, yes . . . to the tune of twenty scudi.
MADDALENA: Only twenty! . . . That's not much! He was worth more.
SPARAFUCILE: His sword: if he's asleep, bring it down to me.
[MADDALENA goes upstairs and stands looking at the sleeping DUKE, then closes the balcony as best she can and comes down carrying the sword. GILDA, meanwhile, appears in the road wearing male attire, boots and spurs, and walks slowly towards the inn, where SPARAFUCILE is still drinking. Frequent thunder and lightning.]
GILDA: Ah, my reason has left me!
Love draws me back . . . Father, forgive me!
What a terrible night! Great God, what will happen?
MADDALENA [having put the DUKE's sword on the table]: Brother?
GILDA [peeping through a crack]: Who is speaking?
SPARAFUCILE [rummaging in a cupboard]: Go to the devil!
MADDALENA: He's an Apollo, that young man; I love him,
he loves me . . . let him be . . . let's spare him.
GILDA [listening]: Dear God!
SPARAFUCILE [throwing her a sack]: Mend this sack!
SPARAFUCILE: Because your Apollo, when I've cut his throat,
will wear it when I throw him in the river.
GILDA: I see hell itself!
MADDALENA: But I reckon I can save you the money
and save his life as well.
SPARAFUCILE: Difficult, I think.
MADDALENA: Listen -- my plan is simple.
You've had ten scudi from the hunchback;
he's coming later with the rest . . .
Kill him, and the twenty you've got;
so we lose nothing.
GILDA: What do I hear?. . . My father!
SPARAFUCILE: Kill the hunchback?
What the devil do you mean?
Am I a thief? Am I a bandit?
What client of mine has ever been cheated?
This man pays me, and I shall deliver.
MADDALENA: Ah, have mercy on him!
SPARAFUCILE: He must die.
MADDALENA: I'll see he escapes in time.
[She runs towards the stairs.]
GILDA: Oh, merciful girl!
SPARAFUCILE [holding her back]: We'd lose the money,
MADDALENA: That's true!
SPARAFUCILE: Don't interfere.
MADDALENA: We must save him.
SPARAFUCILE: If someone else comes here before midnight,
they shall die in his place.
MADDALENA: The night is dark, the weather too stormy;
no one will pass by here at this late hour.
GILDA: Oh, what a temptation! To die for the ingrate?
To die! And my father?… Oh, Heaven, have mercy!
[A distant clock chimes half past eleven.]
SPARAFUCILE: There's still half an hour.
MADDALENA [weeping]: Halt, brother . . .
GILDA: What! A woman like that weeps, and I do nothing to help him!
Ah, even if he betrayed my love
I shall save his life with my own!
[She knocks on the door.]
MADDALENA: A knock at the door?
SPARAFUCILE: It was the wind.
[GILDA knocks again.]
MADDALENA: Someone's knocking, I tell you.
SPARAFUCILE: How strange! Who's there?
GILDA: Have pity on a beggar;
grant him shelter for the night.
MADDALENA: A long night will it be!
SPARAFUCILE: Wait a moment. [Searching in the cupboard]
MADDALENA: Come on, get on with it, finish the job.
I am eager to save one life with another.
SPARAFUCILE: So, I'm ready; open the door;
all I want to save is the gold.
GILDA: (Ah, death is near, and I am so young!
Oh, Heaven, for these sinners I ask thy pardon.
Father, forgive your unhappy child!
May the man I am saving be happy.)
MADDALENA: Get on with it!
GILDA: (God! Forgive them!)
[Dagger in hand, SPARAFUCILE positions himself behind the door; MADDALENA opens it, then runs to close the big door under the archway while GILDA enters. SPARAFUCILE closes the door behind her and the rest is darkness and silence.]

Bernd Weikl (b), Rigoletto; Jan-Hendrik Rootering (bs), Sparafucile; Giacomo Aragall (t), Duke of Mantua; Klara Takács (ms), Maddalena; Lucia Popp (s), Gilda; Bavarian Radio Chorus, Munich Radio Orchestra, Lamberto Gardelli, cond. Eurodisc, recorded May 1984

Leonard Warren (b), Rigoletto; Nicola Moscona (bs), Sparafucile; Jan Peerce (t), Duke of Mantua; Nan Merriman (ms), Maddalena; Zinka Milanov (s), Gilda; Chorus, NBC Symphony Orchestra. RCA, recorded live in Madison Square Garden, May 25, 1944


Preview: Tonight's musical selections should give you a good idea of Sunday's subject (January 13)
The thunderstorm movement from Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony and Otello's "Esultate" from Verdi's Otello
Stormy weather, part 1 (January 15)
Verdi's Otello, Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, and Berlioz's Les Troyens, plus Lena Horne singing "Stormy Weather"
Preview: Given the resources at his disposal, Vivaldi's musical storms may be the most remarkable of all (January 27)
The three storm movements from Vivaldi's Four Seasons
With the full symphony orchestra you can create a heckuva storm (aka: Musical storms, part 2) (January 29)
Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony (again), Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique, Grofé's Grand Canyon Suite, Johann Strauss II's Amid Thunder and Lightning polka, Richard Strauss's Alpine Symphony, Grieg's Peer Gynt incidental music, Britten's Peter Grimes, and Rossini's Barber of Seville
Preview: En route to more of our musical storms, we encounter perhaps the most eerily wonderful music I know (February 3)
The Preludes to Acts I and II of Wagner's Siegfried
Storms that set three great operatic scenes in motion (aka: Musical storms, part 3) (February 5)
The openings of Wagner's Die Walküre Act I and Siegfried Act III and of Act III of Puccini's La Bohème
Preview: En route to our final operatic storms, we hear two famous tenor tunes sung by a very famous tenor (February 24)
"La donna è mobile," the Quartet, and the Storm Scene from Act III of Rigoletto
Musical storms, part 4: We come to our raging storms from Janáček's Kátya Kabanová and Verdi's Rigoletto (February 26)
The storms from Act III of both operas, with a close-up look at how Verdi created the Rigoletto one -- plus the whole of Act III


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