Image by Olena Sergienko

Opera Under the Stars
 

August 1, 2022

Water Work Pavilion

With Guest Artists
Benjamin Dutcher and Rodolfo Nieto

Program Order

Santa Lucia

Selections from La Bohème

  • Quando m'en vo'

  • Vecchia zimarra senti

  • Che gelida manina

  • Si, mi chiamano Mimì

  • O soave fanciulla

Selections from Phantom of the Opera 

  • Music of the Night

  • The Phantom of the Opera

  • Think of Me

  • Prima Donna

Selections from Carousel

  • If I Loved You

  • You'll Never Walk Alone

Intermission

Aria World Tour

  • Poor Wandr'ing One- England

  • Se vuol ballare- Italy

  • Kuda, Kuda - Russia

Selections from West Side Story

  • Something's Coming

  • Tonight

  • I Feel Pretty

Artsong Sampler

  • Danse Macabre

  • Ideale 

  • Ave Maria

Selections from La Traviata

  • Un di felice

  • Sempre libera

  • Brindisi

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 with 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 two numbers from Bohème are taken from later in the opera. We open our set with Musetta’s Waltz, officially titled “Quando me’n vo’” (When I go along). Musetta has had a fiery, on and off, relationship with Marcello for some time. They 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.

We now find ourselves in Act 4. Mimì is deathly ill and the Bohemians are scrambling to pull together enough money to buy her medicine to help save her. Musetta gives Marcello her earrings to pawn as Colline sings “Vecchia zimarra” (Old overcoat). It may seem strange for Colline to sing such a sad song about an inanimate object, but the coat is a running joke throughout the original story Boheme was adapted from. It is by far the nicest garment any of the Bohemians own and the other three are constantly trying to trick Colline into loaning it to them for various parties, to impress girls, and other social functions. His willingness to sell this coveted object that they all use for warmth as well as status, shows just how far these friends are willing to go to help Mimì.

Now back to Act 1. It is Christmas Eve, and they decided to head out to the local Café Momus to celebrate the evening. Rodolfo however wanted to stay behind to finish his writing, and he promised he will join them later. Suddenly, there is a knock on the door. It was the 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 blew out. Rodolfo found her key in the darkness and slipped it in his pockets. 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. Happily in love, they 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 when their hands touched for the first time in the moonlight.

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”. Upon arriving in the Phantom’s lair, he explains to Christine that he has hand picked her to sing his composition. She faints due to the shock of everything and the Phantom cares for her singing “The Music of the Night.”

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. Disaster ensues, Christine escapes to the roof with Raoul and tells him of what happened in the Phantom’s lair. The Phantom overhears them and swears his revenge while Raoul begins to plot how to end the Phantom’s reign of terror at the opera house. And that’s just the end of Act 1! To find out the end of the story, check out the 2004 film adaptation!

 

Carousel, Rodgers and Hammerstein

The story begins in 1873 with two young female millworkers visiting the town’s carousel after work. During the ride, one of the girls, Julie, lets a man named Billy Bigelow put his arm around her. Billy invites Julie for a drink where they talk about what life might be like if they were in love (If I Loved You).

In the next scene a month later, the town is getting ready for a clambake. Julie and Billy are married, but things have not been perfect. Billy is jobless and stressed and tempted into a robbery with a friend of his. He initially refuses, but then Julie tells him she is pregnant. While Billy is overjoyed, he is nervous about being a good father and providing for the family. He agrees to the robbery.

The robbery goes poorly, and Billy ends up mortally wounded. Julie arrives just in time to hear his final words before he dies. Her friends appear and they sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, promising to keep going despite the despair.

*With this last song, we would like to acknowledge An Opera Theater where we first heard this ensemble version of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. AOT is a local opera company with a mission to produce socially relevant works. Their social justice and advocacy work through art is highly impactful and we are so lucky to have a company like them in our city! If you are ready to dive deeper into opera, we highly recommend checking them out. www.anoperatheater.org

 

Aria World Tour

In this section we wanted to feature the different sounds from various operatic styles across the world.

We open with a jaunty operetta number from England. In Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirate’s of Penzance, the young pirate Fredrick has been wandering through the woods lamenting his lack of a girlfriend. Conveniently, a rather large troop of sisters is hiking nearby. When Fredrick stumbles into their path and makes his request, most of the sisters seems uninterested, almost afraid! But the eldest, Mable, is up for the task and replies that she will happily be his girlfriend (Poor Wandering One).

Next we will feature an Italian aria written by an Austrian child prodigy. Mozart's operas live in a world of their own due to their clever plots and exquisite music. In The Marriage of Figaro, schemes are afoot! Figaro, sings Se vuol ballare (If you want to dance) as he plots his revenge on the Count, who is trying to steal Figaro’s bride-to-be for a night of fun before the wedding. Little does Figaro realize; he is probably the last one to catch on to the Count’s plot. His bride-to-be, Susannah, is also scheming. As is the music teacher Basilio, the pageboy Cherubino, Figaro’s long-lost parents, and the Countess herself! (Though some of these characters have other goals they are trying to accomplish).

Lensky’s Aria (Kuda, Kuda) from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin is the pinnacle of Russian operatic style, this aria is bleak yet hauntingly beautiful. The soulful poet, Lensky has challenged his best friend, Eugene Onegin, to a duel that is set to take place the next morning. Lensky realizes he will probably not survive the duel and reflects on life and what it could been with his love, Olga.

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 “Something’s Coming”, Tony’s first solo of the show. He has yet to meet Maria, but he can feel it in the air that something good is going to happen soon.

Perhaps the most famous scene is the love duet, “Tonight”. Tony had just met Maria and was struck by Cupid’s arrow. Later in the night, he finds the fire escape outside of Maria’s apartment and calls for her. As she appears in the window, 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. Expressing her blissful feelings, she is very excited for their wedding. However, she does not yet know that Tony had killed her brother Bernardo.

 

Art Song Sampler

Art Song is considered the highest form of vocal musical art by classical music purists. It combines high poetry with intricate music to create something small but very complex. Art song is a shorter musical format that allowed composers to hone their techniques and occasionally flex their compositional prowess. Originally performed in small salons, this was the ultimate genre for showing off through nuance. Again, we are taking samples from different countries and stylistic periods in musical history. Please sit back and enjoy the nuanced performances of Danse Macabre, Ideale, and Gounod’s Ave Maria.

Art song is a space where the pianist and vocalist are most equal in importance. They must work together to execute this delicate duet. Listen for how the pianist and the singers are able to communicate and work together in these pieces and watch the real magic of live classical music come to life before your eyes.

La Traviata by Giuseppe 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, coerrcing 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.


Not fully recovered from her illness, Violetta tries to be the life of the party but her continuing symptoms reappear as a coughing fit. 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. As Alfredo declares his love for her, they sing the famous duet "Un dì, felice, eterea"; (One day, happy and ethereal). 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).


This opera ends with Violetta dying of her sickness in the arms of Alfredo. A very typical tragic love scene of a 19th Century romantic opera.

Thank you!!

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 one last Opera Under the Stars coming up this season at Linden Hills Park. Check out our events page for more information!

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.