Opera Daily 🎶 — Love Duets 🍒
This week's Opera Daily features an OD throwback featuring The Love Duet from Puccini’s Tosca and The Cherry Duet 🍒 from L’amico Fritz
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For the summer season, I’ll be publishing some popular Opera Daily throwbacks from time to time.
Today’s throwback features two of my favorite duets— and if you’re new here, you may have missed it.
Let’s get to it.
The Cherry Duet from L’amico Fritz
Today we are listening to “Suzel, buon dì…Tutto tace,” (popularly known as “The Cherry Duet” ) from Act 2 of the Italian opera L’amico Fritz by Pietro Mascagni.
It’s probably the most charming and wholesome love duet ever written. It’s hypnotizing. If you listen closely, you can hear the cherries being plucked from the tree.
🎧 Listening Example (8 minutes of bliss): Soprano Mirella Freni (Suzel) and Tenor Luciano Pavarotti (Fritz) sing “Suzel, buon dì…Tutto tace,”from Act 2 of the Italian opera L’amico Fritz by Pietro Mascagni, Orchestra of the Royal Opera Opera
L’amico Fritz is a simple but beautiful love story, and this duet is the heart of the opera both musically and structurally. You will often hear this duet on the concert stage; the full opera is rarely performed. You might attribute that to its simple storyline (some say weak), but I think the light-hearted nature makes it charming.
Fritz Kobus is an affluent landowner who has vowed to remain a bachelor. However, Fritz’s friend, David, bets him his vineyard that within a year, he will get married. On Fritz’s birthday, Suzel, the daughter of Fritz’s tenant, arrives with a gift of flowers.
Suzel is out picking cherries one day, and Fritz joins her, and they sing this duet, which marks the beginning of the love (or at least the awareness of love) between Suzel and Fritz. (Eventually, with the help of David, Fritz and Suzel get married.)
The singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright uses the melody from “The Cherry Duet” in his piece Greek Song. Can you hear it?
Tito Schipa and Mafalda Favero are also worth a listen, and if you are curious, mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli recorded this duet with Pavarotti in 1997.
If you are looking for a full version of the opera, the EMI recording with Pavarotti, Freni, and Vincenzo Sardinero as David with the Covent Garden Orchestra is fantastic. It was recorded in 1968, and both Pavarotti and Freni are in amazing voice.
Pietro Mascagni is an Italian composer who died in 1945. In 1890, he wrote the one-act opera, Cavalleria Rusticana (often paired with Leoncavallo's Pagliacci). In 1891, L’amico Fritz premiered in Rome (the opera is short and sweet—1 hour and 30 minutes).
The Love Duet from Puccini’s Tosca
Tosca is convinced she overheard Cavaradossi talking to another woman in this scene. Then she sees Cavaradossi’s new painting of a woman (that is not her!) and turns super jealous. Cavaradossi attempts to calm her down with “Qual’occhio al mondo”, telling her, “what eyes in the world could compare to yours!” She leaves, still demanding that he change the eyes in the painting. 🤪
We are featuring Tenor Luciano Pavarotti and Soprano Shirley Verrett in this scene from the 1978 Metropolitan Opera production of Tosca.
🎧 Listening Example (5 minute listen): Tenor Luciano Pavarotti (Mario Cavaradossi) and Soprano Shirley Verrett (Tosca) singing The Love Duet from Puccini’s Tosca, James Conlon, conductor, Tito Gobbi, director, Metropolitan Opera Production, 1978
TOSCA (insisting) Ah, those eyes...
CAVARADOSSI What eyes in the world can compare
with your black and glowing eyes?
It is in them that my whole being fastens,
eyes soft with love and rich with anger...
Where in the whole world are eyes
to compare with your black eyes?
TOSCA (won over)
Oh, how well you know the art
of capturing women's hearts!
(still persisting in her idea)
But let her eyes be black ones!
Here are some other interpretations of the piece:
Giuseppe di Stefano, Maria Callas [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
Placido Domingo, Mirella Freni
Jonas Kaufmann, Angela Gheorghiu
Here’s a link to the full Tosca production with Callas/Di Stefano/Gobbi from 1953.
Thank you for reading (and listening), and feel free to hit reply with feedback. I would love to hear from you.
PS. If you missed last week’s selection, we featured a recording of Giuseppe Verdi’s Falstaff w/ Giulietta Simionato, Rosalind Elias, Robert Merrill, Mirella Freni, and Alfredo Kraus.
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Did Fritz ever meet Floria ?