Opera Under the Stars
July 3rd, 2023
Water Works Pavilion
With Guest Artists
David Walton and Justin Staebell
O Sole Mio
Selections from La Bohème
O Mimi, tu più non torni
Che gelida manina
Si, mi chiamano Mimì
O soave fanciulla
Selections from West Side Story
One Hand, One Heart
I Feel Pretty
Selections from Americana
At the River
Never Walk Alone
Selections from Rigoletto
È il sol dell'anima
Parmi veder le lagrime
Cortigiani, vil razza dannata
Selections from La Traviata
Parigi, o cara
Di Provenza il mar, il suol
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.
We begin with a scene from Act 4. Rodolfo and Marcello are trying to work on their art. It is an unsuccessful attempt and they both sing of their preoccupation with their lost loves. The duet, “O Mimì, tu più torni” (O Mimì, please return), Shows the men realizing that their lovers were also their muses and without them, they are too preoccupied with longing to work.
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 “Che gelida manina” (What cold hands!) introducing himself to Mimì. He tells her that he is a poet, a man of many words. She replies with an aria of her own, “Si, mi chiamano Mimì”, (Yes, my name is Mimì.) Mimì talks about the simple joys in her life, like her embroidery work and the beautiful sunrises that stream through her window. 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.
West Side Story – Leonard Bernstein
This is one of the most famous opera/musical theatre crossovers, and it is equally well known as a film. We start our excerpt with “One Hand, One Heart”. Maria and Tony are getting married! In this song, one their wedding night, they dream of their life together. The songs in our excerpt are a bit out of order, so unfortunately, things don’t end happily ever after for your two main characters.
The next morning Maria is completely in love, and she sings “I Feel Pretty” to her friends. Expressing her blissful feelings, she is very excited for their wedding. However, she does not yet know that a gang rumble had taken place the night before and Tony had killed her brother.
Back in Act 1, Tony has just met Maria at a dance challenge, and it was love at first sight. He finds her building and serenades her with “Maria”. The pair then professes their love for each other in the famous duet “Tonight”.
**Fun Fact: It may seem strange to program an Act 2 consisting of all Verdi on our Independence weekend show, but Verdi and his music were instrumental in Italy's own unification. Just like America's own hymns, anthems, and war time songs, Verdi and his music reached the Italian people and brought them together. Italians' even today treat Verdi's "Va pensiero" chorus from Nabucco with much the same feeling as we have for "America the Beautiful. With us being opera lovers, this felt like the perfect show to highlight a patriotic composer from the country who first brought us opera.
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. There serenade and Gilda’s giddy response take place in the duet “È il sol dell’anima”, (The sun of my soul). 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. The Duke returned to Gilda’s house to find her gone. He imagines her in tears and wants to comfort here in “Parmi veder le lagrime” (I seem to see her tears). Rigoletto also notices his daughter’s absence and rushes to the palace to rescue her, raging at the palace to give her back in the aria “Cortigianni! vil razza dannata” (Courtiers, vile, damnable gang). The guards don’t listen and Rigoletto resorts to pleading. 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!)
La Traviata - Verdi
Set in Paris, this opera opens with a lavish party scene in the beautiful home of the Baron to welcome back the famous courtesan, Violetta after her long illness. The guests ask the Baron to give a toast but he refuses, coercing the shy Alfredo into doing it instead. Alfredo agrees to a Brindisi, which has become one of the most famous scenes to excerpt from the operatic cannon. We will feature this scene at the end to close our program tonight.
We are performing this set in reverse order, starting at the finale and working our way backward!
It is Act 3 and Violetta is dying of tuberculosis. She and Alfredo had parted ways and she dreams of having him return one last time. Suddenly, he bursts through the door and the pair is briefly reunited. They sing “Parigi, o cara”, (In Paris, my dear), and dream of moving to Paris together, though at this point, Violetta is essentially bed-ridden. These dreams are short lived as Violetta dies from her illness at the opera’s conclusion.
Back in Act 2, we see what pulls Violetta and Alfredo apart. Alfredo came from a wealthy family who sees Violetta as an unworthy partner for their son. Germont, Alfredo’s father arrives to try and convince Violetta to leave him. After much debate, including Violetta revealing that she is the one paying for everything, Germont finally convinces her to leave by talking about the scandal this would cause for Alfredo's younger sister who wants to marry. Alfredo enters to find his father present, but Violetta gone. Germont sings "Di Provenza il mar, il suol" (The sea and soil of Provence), attempting to soothe the distraught Alfredo by reminding him of his childhood home. It doesn't work and a heart broken Alfredo leaves to track down Violetta.
Now for how the two met in the first place. At the party in Act 1, Violetta has just recovered from her first stint of illness. She tries to be the life of the party, but her continuing symptoms are difficult to hide. She asks her guests to proceed on to the next room to dance while she herself stays back to rest. However, Alfredo stays behind, expressing his concerns about her health. Revealing he visited her regularly in the hospital while she was ill. After the party, Violetta reflects on her life and wonders if she could be happy with Alfredo. However, she still decides that freedom is her way of life as she sings the famous scene and aria “Ah, forsè lui … Sempre libera” (Ah, Perhaps he is the one... Always free).
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.
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