Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sunday Classics preview: Before they knew they were mortal enemies, "Forza"'s Alvaro and Carlo were battlefield besties


José Carreras (Don Alvaro) and Piero Cappuccilli (Don Carlo) sing "Solenne in quest'ora" at La Scala, 1978. (You'd think someone would have had the tact to edit out that ghastly "lasciate" with which Piero sends the Surgeon away at the start of the clip.)
ALVARO: You must swear to me, in this solemn hour,
to carry out a wish of mine.
CARLO [much moved]: I swear.
ALVARO: Look above
My heart.
CARLO [he does so and discovers a key]: A key!
ALVARO [pointing to the case]:
With it you will take out
A hidden packet. I entrust it to your honor.
Within is a secret which must die with me.
Burn it when I am dead.
CARLO: It shall be done, I swear.
ALVARO: Now I can die in peace. I press you to my heart.
CARLO [embracing him with great emotion]:
My friend, trust in heaven. Farewell.
ALVARO: Farewell.

by Ken

Many of us wish we had a mission in life, something to motivate us, to drive us on. Don Carlo di Vargas, whom we might call the "nemesis" of Verdi's La Forza del destino (the baritone, naturally), has a mission: to see his sister, Donna Leonora di Vargas, and her onetime would-be lover, Don Alvaro, dead, as revenge for what he believes if their responsibliity for his and Leonora's father, the Marquis of Calatrava.

But as I noted in last night's Forza preview, when they first actually meet (the events of the fateful night of the Marquis's death having happened our of range of Carlo), neither having any idea who the other is, they become the closest of comrades, in war, fighting for Spain. Shortly after they meet, in fact, Alvaro saves Carlo's life, but in the process is wounded himself, and his prospects for recovery don't appear great.

What ensues is, as I said last night, probably the finest duet written for tenor and baritone. And in tonight's preview, we're going to hear it, and hear it, and hear it . . .


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