Sunday Classics preview: Finally we hear two-minute samples from Nedda's encounters with the two baritones of "I Pagliacci"
Lawrence Tibbett sings the Pagliacci Prologue from the 1935 film Metropolitan.
LEONCAVALLO: I Pagliacci: Prologue: conclusion
And you, rather than our poor
actors' costumes, consider
our souls, because we are people,
of flesh and bone, and since in this orphan
world, just like you, we breathe the air!
I've told you the concept.
Now hear how it worked out.
Let's go -- begin!
Leonard Warren (b), Tonio; RCA Victor Orchestra, Renato Cellini, cond. RCA-EMI, recorded 1953
Tito Gobbi (b), Tonio; La Scala, Tullio Serafin, cond. EMI, recorded June 12-17, 1954
Giuseppe Taddei (b), Tonio; Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala, Herbert von Karajan, cond. DG, recorded October 1965
As best I can tell there doesn't appear to be much interest in my Pagliacci series beyond my computer. From which the obvious conclusion is that we must forge right ahead. The series began with the post "On our way to focusing on Nedda's scenes with the two baritones of Leoncavallo's Pagliacci," then continued with "Preview: 'He said, she said' in the opening scenes of I Pagliacci" and "Leoncavallo's Pagliacci and the woman who understood the birds' song."
When we left Nedda, half of her little itinerant theatrical troupe, meaning her husband, Canio, and their colleague Beppe, had gone off for a frinedly drink with some of the locals of the village where theye arrived as Act I opened, leaving her to ponder her situation. Tonight we're going to hear two-minute samples of the baritone characters with whom she's about to have dramatic encounters.
The first isn't new to us; it's Tonio, the troupe's hunchback clown, who stayed behind, he said, to groom the donkey. We've heard an odd, unpleasant line or two from him, but mostly we know his voice from the Prologue, as we've resampled above.
BONUS: 3 (OR 4) VERSIONS WE HAVEN'T HEARD
As currently planned (these things are of course always subject to change till they're actually done), we're going to be hearing the complete Prologue performances -- from 1917, 1958, and 1992, respectively -- from which these excerpts are drawn on Sunday. I wasn't going to identify the performers until then, but I'd already prepared that info, and I hate to just delete it. Note that the performance is different from the others in several ways, most obviously some of the notes sung. We'll talk about that on Sunday.
Riccardo Stracciari, bartone. American Columbia, recorded 1917
Cornell MacNeil (b), Tonio; Orchestra of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia (Rome), Francesco Molinari-Pradelli, cond. Decca, recorded 1958
Juan Pons (b), Tonio; Philadelphia Orchestra, Riccardo Muti, cond. Philips, recorded live, February 1992
In fairness (of a sort -- this performance isn't all that well conducted either) to Juan Pons (who's also nine years younger here), compare:
Juan Pons (b), Tonio; Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala, Georges Prêtre, cond. Philips, recorded 1983
LET'S HEAR A BIT OF THE TONIO-NEDDA SCENE
I Pagliacci: Act I: Scene, Tonio-Nedda, "È colpa del tuo canto" ("It's the fault of your singing")
When NEDDA finishes her Ballatella, she is startled to discover TONIO watching. She tells him sharply that she thought he had gone.
TONIO: It's the fault of your singing.
Fascinated, I reveled in it.
NEDDA [mockingly]: Ha! Ha! So much poetry!
TONIO: Don't laugh, Nedda!
NEDDA: Go! Go off to the inn!
TONIO: I know well that I am deformed,
I am contorted,
that I arouse only scorn and horror.
Yet my thoughts know dreams, desires,
a beating of the heart.
When so disdainfully you pass me by,
you don't know what tears
grief forces out of me!
Because, in spite of myself,
I've suffered enchantment,
I've been conquered by love!
[Moving closer to her]
Oh! let me tell you --
NEDDA [interrupting]: That you love me?
Ha ha ha ha!
Leonard Warren (b), Tonio; Victoria de los Angeles (s), Nedda; RCA Victor Orchestra, Renato Cellini, cond. RCA-EMI, recorded Jan. 10-29, 1953
Tito Gobbi (b), Tonio; Maria Callas (s), Nedda; Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala, Tullio Serafin, cond. EMI, recorded June 12-17, 1954
Giuseppe Taddei (b), Tonio; Joan Carlyle (s), Nedda; Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala, Herbert von Karajan, cond. DG, recorded October 1965
NOW LET'S HEAR A BIT OF THE FOLLOWING SCENE
The Nedda-Tonio scene deteriorates into pretty much total mayhem, but Nedda succeeds in warding Tonio off, at which point over the wall dashes the dashing Silvio, whom Nedda is startled to see at this hour. After some back and forth, Silvio asks Nedda whether she really means to live forever amid all this anxiety.
I Pagliacci: Act I, Scene, Silvio-Nedda, "E fra quest'ansie in eterno vivrai?" ("And amid this anxiety you'll live forever?")
I originally thought we'd hear only the earlier of Rolando Panerai's recordings, with Maria Callas as Nedda, but it's kind of a pokey affair, and I thought we should hear the later one as well, with Herbert von Karajan's gorgeous accompaniment (as in the Nedda-Tonio scene). So then I thought I would throw in the Lisitsian-Yakovenko recording (dubbed, I'm afraid, from my Soviet-pressed LP copy).
SILVIO [approaching NEDDA sadly and tenderly]:
And amid this anxiety you'll live forever?
[He takes her hand and leads her downstage.]
Decide my fate, Nedda! Nedda, stay!
You know that the festival comes
to an end and everyone will leave tomorrow.
And when you say that you will be gone from here,
what will become of me, of my life?
NEDDA [moved]: Silvio!
SILVIO: Nedda, Nedda, answer me!
If it's true that you never loved Canio,
if it's true that you hate this wandering,
and the profession you ply,
if your immense love isn't just a fancy,
this night let's leave!
Fly, fly with me!
Robert Merrill (b), Silvio; Victoria de los Angeles (s), Nedda; RCA Victor Orchestra, Renato Cellini, cond. RCA-EMI, recorded Jan. 10-29, 1953
Rolando Panerai (b), Silvio; Maria Callas (s), Nedda; Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala, Tullio Serafin, cond. EMI, recorded June 12-17, 1954
Rolando Panerai (b), Silvio; Joan Carlyle (s), Nedda; Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala, Herbert von Karajan, cond. DG, recorded October 1965
[in Russian] Pavel Lisitsian (b), Silvio; Alexandra Yakovenko (s), Nedda; Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, Samuel Samosud, cond. Melodiya, recorded c1956
IN THIS WEEK'S SUNDAY CLASSICS POST
We work our way through the Nedda-Tonio scene, and perhaps the Nedda-Silvio scene as well.