Opera Under the Stars
June 5th, 2023
Water Works Pavillion
With Guest Artists
Benjamin Dutcher, Justin Anthony Spenner, and Alexis Reed
Selections from La Bohème
Act III Quartet
Quando m'en vo'
O soave fanciulla
Selections from Les Miserables
I Dreamed A Dream
Bring Him Home
A Heart Full of Love
A Quartet of Duets
Un di, felice
Selections from Phantom of the Opera
The Phantom of the Opera
Think of Me
All I Ask of You
Selections from Rigoletto
Parmi, veder le lagrime
Act III Quartet
La Bohème - Giacomo Puccini
Set in Paris in the 1830s, this is probably the most well-known Puccini opera. The opera opens by introducing the four young bachelors sharing a small apartment unit. There is Rodolfo the poet, Marcello the artist, Colline the philosopher, and Schaunard the musician.
Our first excerpt is the Quartet from Act 3 of the opera. The two couples of the show: Mimi and Rodolfo, and Musetta and Marcello, are both on the rocks relationship-wise. Mimi is very sick with tuberculosis and Rodolfo, struggling as he watches her health fade, has left her. In their sweet duet, they come back together and promise to make it till spring, cherishing the little time they have left. Marcello and Musetta’s fight is much more heated. The two have a very on again/ off again relationship and seem to almost enjoy pushing each other’s buttons. Their barbed insults cut through the heartbreaking sweetness of Rodolfo and Mimi’s music making this an incredibly deep and emotional quartet.
We then head back to Act 2, with Musetta’s Waltz, officially titled “Quando me’n vo’” (When I go along). Musetta and Marcello are currently in one of their off phases when she stumbles upon him at Café Momus. Even though she is there with her date, the wealthy Alcindoro, and Marcello is pointedly trying to avoid her, Musetta is determined to win him back. So in true Musetta fashion, she makes a scene to make him jealous, hopping up on the tables and singing her waltz about how all the men look at her when she goes out looking as fabulous as she does. Her plan works and the act finishes with her back in Marcello’s arms.
Now back to Act 1. It is Christmas Eve, and the men decide to head out to the local Café Momus to celebrate the evening. Rodolfo, however wants to stay behind to finish his writing, promising to join later. Suddenly, there is a knock on the door. It is his beautiful neighbor, Mimì, asking for help to light her candle. On her way out, she realizes that she lost her key. As they both search for her key, both their candles blow out. Rodolfo finds her key in the darkness and slips it in his pocket. A beautiful sliver of moonlight shines in through his window as their hands touch for the first time. In a desire to keep the conversation going, Rodolfo sings an aria, introducing himself to Mimì. She replies with an aria of her own. Suddenly head over heels in love, they sing the famous duet “O soave fanciulla” (O, sweet girl) as they leave for Café Momus together, arm in arm.
Les Misérables - Claude-Michel Schönberg
An adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel, this is one of the most famous Broadway musicals of all time. It follows the life of Jean Valjean, a man imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread, as he is released from prison on parole. He can’t find work on parole so he changes his identity and strives to be an example of goodness for the community. He becomes mayor and owns a factory where many women, including Fantine, can earn a living. Fantine, a single mother, works at a factory to support herself and her daughter, Cosette. As she sings “I Dreamed a Dream”, she reminisces on her dreams and about Cosette’s father who abandoned them both. In a state of desperation for money, she sells all her remaining possessions including her hair and must resort to prostitution. Javert, a police inspector, is about to arrest Fantine when Valjean walks past and demands that Javert release her.
Valjean adopts Cosette and raises her as his own child. Javert on the other hand comes close to capturing Valjean but fails again. He sings “Stars” as he makes a vow that he will find Valjean, who broke his parole, and will capture him one day, upholding his rigid morality based in lawfulness.
This whole musical is set against the backdrop of the beginning of the French Revolution. At the barricade preparing for the first surprise attack, Valjean sings “Bring Him Home” as he prays to God, asking Him to protect Marius, who has joined the fight, because he knows how much Marius and Cosette are in love.
Marius and Cosette meet in the street one day and it is love at first sight. Marius follows Cosette and they meet secretly in the garden outside her home and sing “A Heart Full of Love”, Explaining how both their worlds have been turned upside down by this chance encounter.
A Quartet of Duets!
“Pa..pa..pa..” from The Magic Flute by Mozart is a cute duet about finding your perfect match. Papageno, the bumbling bird-catcher, has spent the opera dreaming of finding a partner. Finally, at the end of the opera, who should walk on stage but Papagena! As their names suggest, they are perfect for each other, and immediately begin planning their large family together.
“For Good” comes from the musical Wicked, which details the origin story of Oz and the Wicked Witch of the West. Glinda the Good Witch and Elphaba, the future Wicked Witch had become best friends in school, but their dreams and goals are pulling them in opposite directions. This is a beautiful song where both reflect how much their friendship meant to them and how their lives are forever changed by knowing each other. The friends then depart on their separate adventures.
“Agony” is an old favorite from Sondheim’s musical, Into the Woods. The two princes lament the physical obstacles that keep them from their respective beloveds, Rapunzel and Cinderella.
“Un di, felice” from Verdi’s La Traviata is Alfredo’s attempt to convince Violetta, a courtesan whom he is in love with, that true love is real and she can have it and be happy. Violetta, scared by her life lessons, is skeptical of true love and reluctant to allow Alfredo in and truly be happy.
Phantom of the Opera - Andrew Lloyd Webber
Set in the Paris Opera House in 1881, Phantom tells a story of secrecy and intrigue loosely based on historical events.
The cast of a new production is rehearsing in the theater. Carlotta, the resident soprano prima donna is performing her aria when the heavy backdrop mysteriously falls, crashing to the ground. Rumors fly that an elusive Phantom is behind the incident and Carlotta refuses to continue performing. The new owners, Firmin and André, decide that a chorus girl named Christine Daaé would be capable of taking Carlotta’s place and move her into the lead role.
While performing the main character’s aria “Think of Me”, one of the opera’s benefactor’s, Raoul, recognizes Christine as one of his childhood friends. He visits her dressing room and asks her to dinner. As Raoul departs, the jealous Phantom reveals himself for the first time. He draws Christine through her dressing room mirror into the sewers beneath the opera house singing “The Phantom of the Opera”.
Christine escapes with Raoul to the rooftop and tells him about her encounter with the Phantom. Raoul is skeptical but promises to love and protect her in the duet, “All I Ask of You”. The Phantom, who overheard their conversation, is heartbroken and swears revenge on them both. In the auditorium, the chandelier crashes onto the stage during the curtain call.
Back at the opera house, the Phantom has sent a note demanding that Christine take the place of Carlotta in the new opera they are working on, or bad things will happen. Firmin and André sing “Prima Donna”, assuring the angry diva that she will remain the star. The opera goes up with Carlotta singing the lead. But during one of her arias, the Phantom enchants her voice, turning it into a frog-like croak. And that’s just the end of Act 1! To find out the end of the story, check out the 2004 film adaptation!
Rigoletto - Verdi
Set in sixteenth century Spain, Rigoletto tells the story of a philandering Duke, his bitter court jester (Rigoletto), a curse, and its consequences.
The Duke of Mantua loves women of all kinds. Though, recently, he has his eyes set on a pretty girl he’s seen in church. This girl is Gilda and she happens to be Rigoletto’s daughter. Rigoletto, in his job as court jester, took a joke a bit to far with a man on the court who curses Rigoletto in his anger. The Duke has found where Gilda lives and disguised as a humble student, has introduced himself to her. She is young and naïve and instantly falls for this man who speaks to her of true love. After he leaves, she whispers his name, “Gualtier Malde” to herself in the garden and bubbles with excitement at this new love in the aria “Caro Nome” (Dear Name).
We are now in Act 2. In a case of mistaken identity, the courtiers who Rigoletto angered in Act 1 have abducted Gilda as punishment. Rigoletto rushes to the palace to rescue her, raging at the palace to give her back, “Cortigianni! vil razza dannata” (Courtiers, vile, damnable gang). The guards don’t listen and Rigoletto resorts to pleading. The Duke is also upset at Gilda's disappearance, though he doesn't yet know she is Rigoletto's daughter. He sings "Parmi, veder la lagrime" (I seem to see tears). It is a surprisingly genuine moment for the Duke. Suddenly, Gilda escapes her prison and rushes into her father’s arms. She admits what happened with the Duke and Rigoletto swears revenge while Gilda begs him to have mercy, “Si vendetta” (Yes revenge!)
We end our show today with the Act 3 quartet. The Duke, dressed as a soldier, is hanging out at the local bar trying to seduce his next lady. Maddelena, the current target of the Duke, flirtatiously laughs off his advances. Outside the bar, peering through the window is Gilda. Brought by her father to expose the Duke as a philanderer, Gilda’s heart breaks as she watches her lover betray her while Rigoletto once again swears his revenge.
We want to thank all of you for joining us this evening. We hope you had an enjoyable evening with us. Cheers!
While this concert is free, we do take donations. It is with your support that we can continue our mission - to make opera accessible to everyone. If you would like to donate, you can place cash in the jars on the tables near the stage. We also accept payment via Vemno @overdressedduo. For a check donation or if you would like a receipt for your donation, please speak with one of our volunteers wearing the pink volunteer lanyards. We thank you for your support.
Overdressed is a 501c3 non-profit organization.
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