Image by Olena Sergienko

Opera Under the Stars
 

June 6th, 2022

Water Works Pavilion

Program Order

O Sole Mio

Selections from La Boheme

  • Che gelida manina

  • Mi chiamano Mimi

  • O soave fanciulla

Selections from West Side Story

  • Tonight

  • I Feel Pretty

Frye Duo Feature

  • La Donna è mobile

  • Meditation

Selections from Carmen

  • Habanera

  • Parle-moi de ma mère

  • Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante

Selections from Disney

  • I see the Light

  • A Whole New World

Brindisi from La Traviata

Program Notes

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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 broke, young bachelors the story centers around. There is Rodolfo the poet, Marcello the artist, Colline the philosopher, and Schaunard the musician, all sharing one tiny apartment. It is Christmas Eve, and they decide to head out to the local Café Momus to spend the little money they have celebrating the holiday. Rodolfo however, wants to stay behind to finish his writing, promising to join them later. Suddenly, there is a knock on the door. It is the beautiful neighbor Mimì asking for help to light her candle as she has run out of matches. On her way out, she realizes that she lost her key (possibly on purpose to continue the conversation with this cute bachelor). As they 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 touched for the first time. Rodolfo takes her hand and sings “Che gelida manina” (what a frozen little hand), as he tells her about his dreams in life. Mimì then replies with the aria “Si, mi chiamano Mimì” (Yes, they call me Mimì) as she tells him of her life alone embroidering flowers. In full opera magic, they instantly fall in love, and sing the famous duet “O soave fanciulla” (O, sweet girl) as they leave for Café Momus together, arm in arm. This is perhaps the most famous love at first sight scene in the operatic repertoire.

 

West Side Story, Leonard Bernstein

This is one of the most famous opera/musical theatre crossovers, and it is equally well known by its film version. Perhaps the most famous scene is the love duet, “Tonight”. Tony had just met Maria and it was love at first sight (again). So, later in the night, he finds the fire escape outside of Maria’s apartment and calls for her. She appears in the window and they profess their love together. The duet ends with them agreeing to meet at the bridal shop the next day where Maria works.

Skipping forward into Act 2, Maria is completely in love, and she sings “I feel pretty” to her friends. However, she does not yet know that Tony had killed her brother Bernardo in a duel, and act that sets this love story on the road to tragedy.

Frye Music Duo Feature

We would like to take a moment to feature our guest artists, the Frye Music Duo. We know them from grad school at the University of Minnesota, and Wesley Frye joined us as guest artist last season. We are so happy to bring Wesley back this season along with his wife, Marissa Frye!

“La Donna è mobile” (Women are fickle) from Rigoletto is one of the most famous tenor arias. The Duke of Mantua, a womanizer sings this aria in the opera. The irony is that he is the fickle one, not the women he sings about.

"Meditation" is from the opera Thaïs. This was written as an instrumental intermezzo in the opera for a solo violin and orchestra. It has been excerpted out from the opera and is a standard repertoire for violinists. This intermezzo precedes the final tragedy of the opera – the death of Thaïs.

Carmen, Georges Bizét

This opera opens in Seville, Spain outside a cigarette factory. When the factory bell rings to indicate a break time for the factory girls, the townsmen gathered outside the factory to catch a glimpse of the girls, particularly Carmen. As Carmen sings the famous "Habanera", about how fleeting and fickle love is. During her song, she captures everyone’s attention except a corporal by the name of Don José. Well, for Carmen, that just won’t do! So, she throws a flower at him before disappearing back into the factory. Meanwhile, Don José’s hometown sweetheart, Micaëla arrives bringing him a letter from his mom. She delivers the letter (and a kiss from his mother) as they sing the duet "Parle-moi de ma mère!" (Tell me about my mother). It’s a lovely, yet awkward duet, as Micaëla is in love with Don Jose, but already distracted by thoughts of Carmen, he seems more focused on the letter’s contents than Micaëla’s kiss.

Skipping forward to Act 3, Don José has now completely fallen for Carmen. He has left the army and joined Carmen and her friends smuggling for a living. Micaëla comes looking for him in the mountains to tell him that his mother is now dying. She is terrified of the smugglers, Carmen, and the dangers of the mountain. She sings the aria “Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante” (I say nothing that frightens me) as a prayer to give herself the courage she needs to persevere.

 

La Traviata, Giuseppe Verdi

Now we have come to the closing number of the night, and we ask you to raise your drinks and toast with us to the "Brindisi"! From the opera La Traviata, this is the most frequently programmed music in operatic concerts. Alfredo, the shy, awkward tenor is asked to make a toast. So, he raises his glass and toasts to true love. Violetta the soprano, is slightly more cynical about love and responds to him with a toast to free love instead. If you are familiar with the tune, we ask that you join in and hum along with us!

With this, we want to thank all of you for joining us this evening. We hope you had an enjoyable evening with us. Cheers!

If you enjoyed this concert, we have other Opera Under the Stars coming up this season. Check out our website for more information! The concept will be the same, but we will be featuring different guest artists at different Minneapolis parks.

 

While this concert is free, we do take donations and tips. It is with your support that we can continue on our mission - to make opera accessible to everyone. We thank you for your support.

Overdressed is a 501c3 non-profit organization.