Opera Daily 🎶 — Zürich Opera House, Bartoli and Thermal Baths
This week's Opera Daily features Zürich Opera House, Handel and Vals Thermal Baths by Peter Zumthor
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In 2016, I went to Zürich with a close friend to visit the Vals Thermal Baths in the Swiss village of Vals.
We had heard so much about the baths, designed by the famous architect Peter Zumthor. The hotel is known for their beautiful natural surroundings and therapeutic and relaxing properties. The hotel is fed by natural thermal springs that have been used for their health benefits for centuries. We were intrigued!
When we arrived in Vals, we were immediately struck by the beauty of the baths. They are built entirely out of local Valser quartzite stone and are designed to blend seamlessly into the surrounding landscape, using natural materials such as stone and wood.
After several days at the baths, we headed back to Zürich to catch our flight which was scheduled for the next day. Walking around the city, I realized that we walked past The Zürich Opera House.
We decided to check if any last-minute tickets were available for that night’s performance. To our amazement, some tickets were left, and we quickly snatched them up: Alcina by George Frideric Handel with Cecilia Bartoli!
I couldn’t get ahold of The Zürich performance of Alcina for today, so I am sharing Bartoli singing another incredible Handel piece: “Lascia ch'io pianga”, originally “Lascia la spina, cogli la rosa”.
🎧 Listen here (6 minute listen): Cecilia Bartoli singing “Lascia ch'io pianga”, originally “Lascia la spina, cogli la rosa”, Live in Italy, Teatro Olimpico, Vicenza, 1998
“Lascia ch'io pianga” (“Let me weep”) is from the opera Rinaldo by George Frideric Handel. Handel had already composed it (the aria) in 1705 and transformed it into a piece for Rinaldo. The aria is sung by the character Almirena, who pleads with the gods to release her from her sorrows and allow her to weep. She sings of the pain and suffering she has endured and begs for the release of tears to cleanse her soul and bring her peace.
The aria is beautiful and haunting with a rich melody that conveys the depth of Almirena’s emotions. The lyrics, originally written in Italian as “Lascia la spina, cogli la rosa” (“Leave the thorn, pick the rose”), speak to the idea of letting go of one’s troubles and hardships in order to find joy and beauty in life. The aria is a powerful and moving expression of Almirena’s pain.
Overall, it was an incredible trip to Zürich.
The fact that we could get tickets at the last minute made it all the more special. I will never forget that trip to Zurich, mainly because it was finished with an amazing (unexpected!) opera experience.
Would love to hear about any amazing opera experiences you’ve had — bonus points for anything unexpected or last minute!
Thank you for reading (and listening), and feel free to reply with feedback or leave a comment.
PS. If you missed last week’s selection, we featured the final trio from Rossini’s Le Comte Ory
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There was a woebegone production of ALCINA at NYC Opera in the 1980's.
Am happy it was well done in Zurich with Bartoli who never came back to The Met. Our profound loss, helas.
Cecilia Bartoli singing “Lascia ch'io pianga” was exquisite - so beautiful