Opera Daily 🎶 — Rossini’s Biblical opera
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We’ve made it to another Easter and Passover holiday at Opera Daily.
For those around last year, we covered one of my favorite pieces — The Easter Hymn from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana. You can check out that full post here and the Callas’ interpretation below.
“Dal tuo stellato soglio”, Rossini’s Mosè in Egitto
Today we are listening to Mosè in Egitto by Gioachino Rossini.
The opera premiered in 1818 at Teatro San Carlo in Naples. Set in ancient Egypt, it is considered Rossini’s Biblical opera.
It was commissioned during Lent and is loosely based on the Exodus from Egypt of the Israelites, led by Moses.
Rossini revised the opera in 1819, introducing “Dal tuo stellato soglio”— the famous prayer of Moses and the Israelites at the banks of the Red Sea. This aria later became the most famous piece in the opera and was the inspiration for a set of variations for violin and piano by Niccolò Paganini.
It’s not hard to hear traces of Verdi (and a little Mozart) in this piece.
🎧 Listening Example: (5 minute listen): “Dal tuo stellato soglio” (“Upon your starry throne”) from Rossini’s Mosè in Egitto, Mirella Freni, Luciana D’Intino, Vincenzo La Scola, Samuel Ramey, Teatro alla Scala, Riccardo Muti, Milano, 1996
Mosè in Egitto
In return for Moses restoring light to Egypt, the Pharaoh agrees to free the Israelites. However, the Pharaoh’s son Amenophis wants to block the Israelites from leaving since he loves the Israelite Anaïs. After the Pharaoh tries to break his promise, Moses engineers a plague of hail and fire. The Pharaoh then attempts to appease his son by arranging a marriage with an Armenian princess. Meanwhile, Amenophis plans to elope with Anaïs. Moses calls for the death of the first-born, and the Pharaoh, making his son joint ruler, tells him to have Moses executed. When Amenophis condemns Moses to death, the latter strikes him dead. In the end, Moses parts the Red Sea leading the Israelites to safety. Meanwhile, the Pharaoh’s troops are drowned with their master.
Mosè in Egitto went through two revisions: a minor one in 1819 (it was in this revision that the aria “Dal tuo stellato soglio” would be added to the opera); and a bigger retooling in 1827 (Moïse et Pharaon, or Le passage de la Mer Rouge) with a new selection of music and a ballet added to the work.
Happy Easter and Passover.
Thank you for reading (and listening),
PS. If you missed last week’s selection, we listened to “Baïlèro” from Chants d'Auvergne (Songs of the Auvergne) — a collection of folk songs by Joseph Canteloube.
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During my season at LaScala we did a new production of Rossini's MOSE in Italain with Luciano Damiani. There are 3 different versions and several recordings of all of them.
Julia Hamari, Yvegeni Nesterenko, and Jesus Luis Corboz---Damiani designed it and was director. We joked about DeMille and 10 Commandments movie as prototype. The chilling final scene when the water receded and the stage was full of dead Egyptian mannequins and the postlude.