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Opera Daily 🎶 — Opera can take some getting used to
This week's Opera Daily features Soprano Mirella Freni singing “Poveri fiori”, Adriana’s aria from Act IV of the Italian opera Adriana Lecouvreur
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Seeing so many new faces here this week, I thought it’d be cool to hit the rewind button and share a classic.
Here’s the thing about opera: even for those acquainted with its magic, it can sometimes be an acquired taste.
Think about your first sip of black coffee or that first bite of dark chocolate – strong, bitter, maybe a tad confusing. You’re not sure if you love it, but there’s something intriguing about it.
With more sips (or in our case, more listens), things change. You start catching the subtle flavors in coffee, the intricate notes in the opera. Slowly, what felt overwhelming becomes exhilarating. That high note? Gives you chills. The silence in a scene? Hits right in the feels.
Speaking of gems, today’s pick is pure gold.
If there’s a piece that showcases the deep emotions and intricate beauty of opera, this is it.
🎧 Listening Example: (5 minute listen): Soprano Mirella Freni singing “Poveri fiori”, Adriana’s aria from Act IV of the Italian opera Adriana Lecouvreur by Francesco Cilèa, La Scala, 1989.
“Poveri fiori” is a sad moment in the opera, and Cilèa writes that into the music. The (octave) jump of the vocal line creates a mood of deep despair. On her birthday, Adriana is sent a package which she thinks is from Maurizio. Already depressed and sad, her heart breaks when she opens the box and finds that it contains the flowers she gave Maurizio that are now dead. Adriana sings to the flowers of her pain. Little does she know that the package is from the Princesse de Bouillon, who has soaked the flowers in poison. 😳
Poor flowers, jewels of the meadows
Just yesterday born, today dying.
I often don't have words that describe how opera makes me feel.
Other than the other famous aria from this opera, “Io son l’umile ancella”, I am not sure if I’ve ever heard anything more beautiful. Mirella Freni, who left us in 2020, will forever be the voice that made me fall in love with opera.
Adriana Lecouvreur is an opera within an opera. While its narrative can be intricate, there's no disputing Cilèa’s gift for vocal composition. Drawing inspiration from a novel, it recounts the life of 18th-century actress Adrienne Lecouvreur. She's the heartthrob of many, including stage manager Michonnet. Yet her heart belongs to Maurizio, Count of Saxony. Amidst the ensuing love triangles and jealousies, the dramatic climax leaves Adriana poisoned by her rival, dying in Maurizio’s embrace.
Grateful for your time and ears,
PS. Missed our last edition? We said goodbye to Soprano Renata Scotto.
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