Friday, October 29, 2010

Sunday Classics preview: Poor Santuzza is a prisoner of her village's "family values"


Poor Santuzza actually accepts all the religious "values" of her poor Sicilian village, and is a prisoner of them. We have a lovely performance of Santa's great scene with her ex-boyfriend Turiddu's mother, Mamma Lucia, "Voi lo sapete, o Mamma," by the fine American mezzo Tatiana Troyanos, in Franco Zeffirelli's Metropolitan Opera production, with Jean Kraft as Mamma Lucia and James Levine conducting, April 5, 1978.
SANTUZZA: As you know, Mamma,
before going off to be a soldier
Turiddu had sworn
eternal faith to Lola.
He returned, found her married,
and with a new love
wanted to quench the fire
that burned in his heart.
He loved me. I loved him.

She, that envier of any joy of mine,
forgetting her husband,
burning with jealousy,
snatched him from me.
Here I am stripped of my honor.
Lola and Turiddu are lovers.
I weep. I weep.

MAMMA LUCIA: Mercy on us, what on earth
have you just told me,
on this blessed day?
SANTUZZA: I'm damned. I'm damned.
Go, Mamma, to implore God,
and pray for me.
Turiddu will be coming.
I want to plead with him
yet one more time.
MAMMA LUCIA [going toward the church]: Help her, Blessed Mary.

by Ken

Okay, we're back to Cavalleria rusticana and its wretched heroine, Santuzza, whom we heard (a number of times over, in our first Cav preview and in the following main post) singing her deeply felt Easter rejoicing at our Lord's rising ("Ineggiamo, il Signor non è morto") -- significantly, with the group of villagers outside the church. All the others are on their way into the church, however, leaving only Santuzza outside -- Santuzza and Mamma Lucia, that is. Which is where we just came in.

I've skipped over some pretty important information, though. After the pre-curtain Prelude and "Siciliana," in which we've heard (in our second Cav preview) an unseen tenor serenading an unseen Lola, the curtain rises on this sleepy Sicilian village as its inhabitants make their way toward the church on Easter Sunday. And then the forlorn figure of Santuzza is seen approaching the woman who operates the tavern on the village square opposite the church. We're going to hear this entire exchange, which even with the extensive orchestral lead-in lasts a mere five minutes, when the women are interrupted (happily for Mamma Lucia) by the rousing entrance of the teamster Alfio (which we've already heard).

MASCAGNI: Cavalleria rusticana:
Santuzza, "Dite, Mamma Lucia"

SANTUZZA: Tell me, Mamma Lucia . . .
MAMMA LUCIA [surprised]: It's you? What do you want?
SANTUZZA: Where is Turiddu?
MAMMA LUCIA: So you come here to look
for my son?
SANTUZZA: I just want to know,
forgive me, where to find him.
MAMMA LUCIA: I don't know, I don't know. I don't want trouble.
[2:25] SANTUZZA: Mamma Lucia, I beg you, weeping,
act as our Lord did toward Mary Magdalen.
Tell me for pity's sake, where is Turiddu?

Tell me for pity's sake, where is Turiddu?
MAMMA LUCIA: He went for wine to Francofonte.
SANTUZZA: No! He was seen in the village late last night.
What are you saying? If he didn't come home . . .
[Going toward her house] Enter.
[3:33] SANTUZZA: I can't enter your house. I can't enter.
[3:43] I'm excommunicated. I'm excommunicated.

MAMMA LUCIA: And what do would you know about my dear son?
SANTUZZA: What a thorn I have in my heart!
Maria Callas (s), Santuzza; Ebe Ticozzi (ms), Mamma Lucia; Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala, Tullio Serafin, cond. EMI, recorded June 16-25 and Aug. 3-4, 1953

Now the sequence that grabs most people's attention, quite understandably, begins at 3:31 in our clip, when Mamma Lucia tells Santuzza to enter her place. At 3:33 Santuzza tells her she can't come in her house, because [3:43] she's excommunicated. Now this is heart-rending. If it doesn't rend your heart, I really have to wonder.

But the bit that haunts me comes earlier, the roughly 25-second sequence when Mamma Lucia is trying to brush Santzza off, and [at 2:25] the poor girl begs for the kindness that our Lord vouchsafed another sinner, "Maddalena." I've edited (crudely, of course, the way I edit) performances by four lovely singers of markedly different voice types and temperaments down to just this highlighted bit.

MASCAGNI: Cavalleria rusticana:
Santuzza, "Mamma Lucia, vi supplico piangendo,
fate come il Signore a Maddalena.
Ditemi per pietà, dov'è Turiddu? . . .

Mamma Lucia, I beg you, weeping,
act as our Lord did toward Mary Magdalen.
Tell me for pity's sake, where is Turiddu? . . .
Giulietta Simionato (ms), Santuzza; NHK Symphony Orchestra, Giuseppe Morelli, cond. Television performance, Oct. 21, 1961
Renata Tebaldi (s), Santuzza; Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Alberto Erede, cond. RCA/Decca, recorded Sept. 1-7, 1957
Victoria de los Angeles (s), Santuzza; Rome Opera Orchestra, Gabriele Santini, cond. EMI, recorded 1962
Zinka Milanov (s), Santuzza; RCA Victor Orchestra, Renato Cellini, cond. RCA/BMG, recorded January 1953

Here's the whole little scene again -- with the orchestral lead-in and the vocal exchange on separate tracks -- in the later La Scala recording conducted by Herbert von Karajan from which we've also heard a number of excerpts. "Mamma Lucia, vi supplico piangendo" is at 0:33 of the second track; Mamma Lucia tells Santuzza to enter at 1:33, and Santa's "Sono scommunicata" comes at 1:45.

MASCAGNI: Cavalleria rusticana:
Santuzza, "Dite, Mamma Lucia"

Fiorenza Cossotto (ms), Santuzza; Mariagrazia Allegri (ms), Mamma Lucia; Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala, Herbert von Karajan, cond. DG, recorded Sept.-Oct. 1965


I think we're going to take a look at, or rather a listen to, the "bad boys" of Cav and Pag.

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