👋🏼 Hello there, and welcome to our Sunday edition. On Tuesday, we asked the Opera Daily community, “what opera, singer, aria, or art song are you listening to today, to get your mind in the right place? What pieces bring you joy?”
Today we’re sharing Part 2 of the selections we received. Thank you again for sharing and for being so generous with your time. I appreciate every one of you! 🙏🏼
You can find Part 1 from Wednesday here. Looking forward to seeing you again on Wednesday when we will be dedicating the week to opera’s obsession with hand-written letters. ✍🏼
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🎧 Listen here:
Ruslan and Lyudmila is an opera in five acts by Russian composer Mikhail Glinka. The opera premiered in 1842 at the Bolshoi Theatre in St Petersburg, Russia, and is based on the 1820 poem Ruslan and Lyudmila by Aleksandr Pushkin. We are listening to the overture here.
“Ride of the Valkyries” opens the beginning of Act III of Die Walküre, the second of the four operas that make up Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring Cycle) by Richard Wagner. The piece centers around Brünnhilde and her sisters, Valkyries and daughters of Wotan, who ride through the sky and guide the souls (of dead heroes!) to Valhalla. Valkyries were elevated in literature to supernatural warriors who decided who was to live and who was to die. During this piece, they are gathered on a mountaintop, collecting slain heroes 😮
Another Wagner selection that came in this week was “Winterstürme” — Siegmund’s famous aria from Act I, Scene 3 of the German opera, Die Walküre. Jon Vickers is singing here. The aria describes how a brother finds his sister. It’s impossible to do Wagner or Die Walküre any justice in this short post, so please know that we will be revisiting these pieces in the future!
“Patria oppressa!” (“Oppressed homeland!”) is a choir scene from Macbeth by Giuseppi Verdi. In this piece, the Scots mourn their exile and the fate of their country that has been terrorized by Macbeth. We are listening to the Orchestra & Chorus of La Scala Opera House conducted by Claudio Abbado.
Kathleen Ferrier was an English contralto. Contraltos are the lowest of the female voices — but not always female. The composer Benjamin Britten wrote his second opera, The Rape of Lucretia, with Kathleen Ferrier in mind for the title role. Despite an early death at forty-one years old, she accomplished more than most singers do in an entire lifetime. We are listening to her sing a live performance of Orfeo ed Euridice by the composer Willibald Gluck.
“In quelle trine morbide”, a soprano aria from Manon Lescaut by Puccini. We agree that this piece sung here by Mirella Freni is magical. We featured it in a previous Opera Daily, and you can read more here.
Jan Peerce was an American tenor and a favorite singer of the great Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini. We are listening to him singing here in a 1943 broadcast of “Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise” from the 1928 operetta The New Moon.
Juan Diego Flórez, the Peruvian tenor, is singing “Cucurrucucú Paloma”, a Mexican huapango-style song written by Tomás Méndez in 1954. Huapango is a Mexican folk dance and music style. “Cucurrucucú Paloma” tells the story of a man whose lover died. He’s so devastated, and the only thing that calms him down is when a dove 🕊 (“la Paloma”) comes to his window sill and coos (making him think that it’s the spirit of his lover who passed).
“Ah! Je vais mourir...Adieu, fiere cite” (“Ah, I will die…Farewell proud city”), the final scene from Les Troyens by Hector Berlioz. We are listening to Shirley Verrett sing the role of Didon here. If you want to hear more Les Troyens we profiled the opera during French week last month.
“Au fond du temple saint” (popularly known as “The Pearl Fishers Duet”) from the French opera Les pêcheurs de perles was shared with us many times, and it’s no surprise why! We featured this friendship duet when we first started, and you can find that here. There is nothing quite like Jussi Björling and Robert Merrill singing this piece.
Angela Gheorghiu is a Romanian opera singer. We are listening to her singing “Vissi d'arte” from “Tosca” live here at the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors program, which honored American soprano Grace Bumbry.
If these selections inspire you to share more of your favorites with us, please leave a comment on the post so others can find and enjoy it. 🙏🏼
Thank you for listening (and sharing),
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