Opera Daily 🎶 — Bergonzi and Cappuccilli
This week's Opera Daily features a throwback — the duet from Act I of the 19th-century opera Don Carlo by Giuseppe Verdi
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Today we’re listening to…
“Dio, che nell’alma infondere,” a duet from Act I of the 19th-century opera Don Carlo, composed by Giuseppe Verdi.
Carlo Bergonzi (tenor) and Piero Cappuccilli (baritone) are singing a live performance here. Like the famous duet from The Pearl Fishers we’ve featured in past, this duet follows in the 19th-century tradition of operatic “friendship” duets, which feature tenor and baritone singing complementary musical lines.
🎧 Listen here (6 minute listen): Carlo Bergonzi and Piero Cappuccilli singing “Dio, che nell’alma infondere,” a duet from Act I of the 19th-century opera Don Carlo, composed by Giuseppe Verdi, Live in NYC
Don Carlo is Verdi’s most ambitious and complex work. The story of Don Carlo is fictional, but the characters are historical. The plot centers around the conflicts in the life of the heir to the Spanish throne (Don Carlo, son of the King of Spain) after the woman he is supposed to marry (Elizabeth de Valois, Princess of France), is married to his father instead.
In Act I of the opera, Don Carlo (tenor) is reunited with his friend, Rodrigo (baritone), who has recently returned from a mission. They sing the duet “Dio, che nell’alma infondere”, in which they pledge themselves to the cause of liberty and swear life-long friendship.
Oh God, who wished to instill love and hope in our souls,
Thou must kindle within our hearts a desire for liberty.
Verdi is a genius and leaves Easter eggs for us everywhere in his music. When the baritone line comes up to the tenor range, and the singers meet on one note, you can feel the unity and friendship that Verdi was trying to convey. It is pure gold.
I also love this performance of the duet with Placido Domingo and Sherrill Milnes.
Don Carlo has no definitive version or standard performing edition. In its original form, first presented in Paris in 1867, Don Carlos was a five-act opera containing more than four hours of music sung in French. In October 1867, the text was translated into Italian for production in Bologna. Verdi left the opera in Italian and French, but the opera today is most often performed in the Italian translation, usually under the title Don Carlo (Don Carlos in French).
There was a revival of Don Carlo at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in November 1950, and the opera was picketed by protestors who objected to its anti-Catholic tone.
Thank you for reading (and listening), and feel free to reply with feedback or leave a comment.
PS. If you missed last week’s selection, we featured the overture from Wagner's opera Tannhäuser.
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