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Opera Daily 🎶 — Semiramide
This week's Opera Daily features “Bel raggio lusingier,” a soprano aria from Act I of the Italian opera Semiramide
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Today we’re listening to…
“Bel raggio lusingier,” a soprano aria from Act I of the Italian opera Semiramide by Gioachino Rossini.
🌟 Spotlight on Joan Sutherland: Joan Sutherland never fails to deliver what is required by the composer, Rossini. This is bel canto at its finest. Often hailed as “La Stupenda,” Joan Sutherland is synonymous with the bel canto style. Originating from the Italian for "beautiful singing," bel canto emphasizes the beauty of pure vocal skill, focusing on breath control, agility, and pitch perfection. Sutherland's voice, with its incredible range and clarity, made her one of the foremost interpreters of this style.
When it comes to Rossini, her performances are nothing short of mesmerizing. In “Bel raggio lusinghier,” she not only captures the technical demands but also the emotional depth, embodying the essence of bel canto. Her voice, a blend of power and brilliance, moves with the agility that Rossini envisioned.
I promise you, this aria is incredibly difficult to sing, but she makes it sound effortless.
🎧 Treat Your Ears: (6 minute listen): Soprano Joan Sutherland singing “Bel raggio lusinghier” from Gioachino Rossini’s Semiramide, 1960
A Glimpse into Semiramide:
Premiere: Venice, February 3, 1823.
Rossini's Prowess: In just a decade (1812-1822), Rossini crafted 30 operas, showcasing his unparalleled genius.
Inspiration: The opera’s tale is adapted from Voltaire’s tragedy, Semiramis (1748).
Before the Spotlight Shines: For 15 years, Semiramide has ruled Babylon. With a dark secret of regicide (the action of killing a king) and a missing heir, she's on the brink of announcing her successor. As the curtains rise, emotions run high with love, deception, and a shocking revelation. While there are other obvious candidates for the throne, Semiramide falls for Arsace, a military leader who is summoned back to Babylon. In this Act I aria, Semiramide expresses joy that Arsace has returned to her side. Although she does not realize he is in love with another and that he is actually her son, and she is in love with him!
The Great Debate: The opera world once buzzed with debates over Joan Sutherland vs. Maria Callas. While both are iconic, there's a unique charm in Sutherland's voice that resonates with many. As a wise opera enthusiast once remarked, "Callas transformed opera. But Sutherland? She was the voice."
🎼 Craving More? Dive into the full opera with Marilyn Horne. The overture is a must-listen!
Grateful for your time and ears,
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