Opera Daily 🎶 — The Cherry Duet
This week's Opera Daily features “Suzel, buon dì…Tutto tace,” from Act 2 of the Italian opera L’amico Fritz
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Today we’re 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.
Mirella Freni and Luciano Pavarotti are singing the roles of Suzel (soprano) and Fritz (tenor) here. Sweet, delicate, charming—these words come to mind when I hear this duet. If you listen closely, you can hear the cherries being plucked from the tree 🍒
🎧 Listen here (8 minute listen): Mirella Freni and Luciano Pavarotti singing “Suzel, buon dì…Tutto tace,” from Act 2 of the Italian opera L’amico Fritz by Pietro Mascagni
L’amico Fritz is a simple but beautiful love story, and this duet is the heart of the opera both musically and structurally.
You often hear this duet on the concert stage; the whole opera is rarely performed. You might attribute that to its simple storyline (viewed by some as lacking depth), 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 he will get married within a year. On Fritz’s birthday, Suzel, the daughter of Fritz’s tenant, arrives with 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 are married)
The singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright uses the melody from “The Cherry Duet” in his piece Greek Song. Can you hear it? 🍒
While Freni and Pavarotti's rendition remains iconic, other performances offer unique interpretations worth exploring, including Tito Schipa and Mafalda Favero, 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 Pavarotti and Freni are in amazing voice.
Mascagni was 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 also sweet—1 hour and 30 minutes).
Which “Cherry Duet” 🍒 is your favorite?
Grateful for your time and ears,
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