Opera Daily 🎶 — On the shores of Lake Como

This week's Opera Daily features Lake Como, Giuditta Pasta, and composer's Vincenzo Bellini and Gaetano Donizetti

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Villa Roccabruna (Villa Pasta) before being converted to The Mandarin Oriental

Lake Como, a narrow, 30-mile-long lake, has always been a retreat for artists and writers.

The Mandarin Oriental, in the town of Blevio on Lake Como, in Northern Italy’s Lombardy region, stands today in the former home of the famous opera singer Giuditta Pasta, who purchased the property and turned it into a meeting place for artists, composers, and singers.

Portrait of Giuditta Pasta, artist unknown.

At Villa Roccabruna (formerly known as Villa Pasta), it is reported that in 1829 Gaetano Donizetti spent a month there while composing Anna Bolena. The story is that composer Bellini heard Pasta singing and searched around the lake to find her voice.

Bellini soon became a regular at the villa, and his friendship with Giuditta Pasta became legendary. He wrote La Sonnambula and Norma with the singer in mind.

While there are very few available recordings of Giuditta Pasta, let’s imagine we are on a boat in Lake Como listening to Pasta and others singing Bellini and Donizetti.

(I took the video at the top of this email when I visited Lake Como. Every time I watch it, I am transported to another world. I hope you will be too.)


🎧 Listening Example (8 minute listen): Soprano Anna Moffo singing “Ah! non credea mirarti” from the Italian opera La Sonnambula by Vincenzo Bellini (recording from “La Bellissima”, Anna Moffo: The Debut Recordings, EMI Studio), 1956-1959

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🎧 Listening Example (3 minute listen) Soprano Leyla Gencer singing “Deh! non volerli vittime” from the Italian opera Norma by Vincenzo Bellini, Live 1965

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🎧 Listening Example (8 minute listen): Soprano Maria Callas singing the Judgement Scene from Donizetti’s Anna Bolena

“When I begin to speak of that divine woman, my mind doesn’t give me terms to express what I feel.” This is how Bellini described Giuditta Pasta

Thank you for reading (and listening), and feel free to hit reply with feedback. I would love to hear from you.

Michele

PS. If you missed last week’s selection, we featured The Love Duet from Puccini’s Tosca and The Cherry Duet 🍒 from L’amico Fritz

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