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Opera Daily 🎶 — Honoring Mothers
This week's Opera Daily features some of opera’s most devoted mothers
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For those around last year, on Mother’s Day, we honored mothers. And we’re making this an annual tradition!
I am not a mother, but I am a daughter.
I can’t speak firsthand about all the emotions mothers go through, but as a daughter, I think I have some idea of how hard it is to be a mother.
Today, I am grateful for mine.
Why are we so hard on mothers?
Sure, everyone loves a mom on Mother's Day, but people aren’t nearly as kind the rest of the year.
Unfortunately, moms have had it very hard in the opera world, often taking the role of the obligatory villain. I think it’s because being a mother is the most complex and most important job in the world.
Yes, she might look like a “villain” in the story, but I think she is just someone who cares and loves so much it drives her crazy.
Mothers are the quiet heroes of history.
As human beings, our lives begin in the shelter of our mother’s care and affection, without which we would not survive.
For most of us, our mother is our first teacher.
Celebrating Mother’s Day today, let's consider how moms have shaped our worlds.
Today we are listening to two of opera’s mothers — Mamma Lucia in Cavalleria Rusticana and Mother Superior in Dialogues of the Carmelites.
🎧 Listening Example: (4 minute listen): Renata Scotto (Santuzza) and Jean Kraft (Mamma Lucia) singing the duet “Dite, Mamma Lucia” from Act 1 of Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana
Tell me, mother Lucia …
You? What do you want?
Where is Turiddu?
Have you come here
To look for my son?
I beg you to forgive me.
I only want to know where I can find him.
I do not know.
Don't bother me!
Mother Lucia, I implore you,
Be merciful as Our Lord was to Magdalene
And tell me where Turiddu is …
He went to Francolonte
For the wine.
No! He was seen
In the village late last night.
What are you saying?
He's not returned home!
I cannot enter your house!
I have been damned!
What then do you know of my son?
Mamma Lucia is a central character in Pietro Mascagni's opera Cavalleria Rusticana. She is the devoted mother of Turiddu, the protagonist of the opera. Mamma Lucia is a widow who runs a tavern in a small Sicilian village. Despite her struggles, she remains strong and loving, providing both emotional support and a source of stability for her son. She embodies the essence of a nurturing and protective mother. In the opera, Mamma Lucia’s love for her son is tested as she becomes entangled in the dramatic conflicts between Turiddu, his former lover Santuzza, and her husband, Alfio. Her role showcases the depth of a mother's unconditional love and the sacrifices she is willing to make for her child.
🎧 Listening Example: (1 minute listen): Soprano Karita Mattila sings an excerpt from Madame de Croissy’s (Mother Superior) Act I death scene in the final dress rehearsal of Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites, The Metropolitan Opera, Production, John Dexter, Conductor, Yannick Nézet-Séguin. 2018–19 season.
In Francis Poulenc's opera Dialogues of the Carmelites, the character of Mother Superior plays a pivotal role. The opera focuses on the harrowing experiences of a group of Carmelite nuns during the French Revolution. Mother Superior is the spiritual leader of the convent and acts as a guiding force for the other nuns. She is portrayed as a wise, compassionate, and strong-willed woman who leads her fellow sisters with unwavering faith and determination, even in the face of impending danger. As the revolutionary turmoil escalates and the nuns face the threat of persecution, Mother Superior must make difficult decisions that test her resolve and commitment to her beliefs. Her character represents maternal strength, resilience, and devotion to one's faith.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers reading this post, especially to mine.
Thank you for reading (and listening),
PS. If you missed last week’s selection, we featured music from one of my favorite films ever made — "Big Night”.
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