Opera Under the Stars
August 13, 2022
Linden Hills Park
With Guest Artists
Benjamin Dutcher and Justin Anthony Spenner
Selections from La Bohème
Quando m'en vo'
O Mimì, tu più non torni
Che gelida manina
Si, mi chiamano Mimì
O soave fanciulla
Selections from Phantom of the Opera
Think of Me
The Phantom of the Opera
Music of the Night
Selections from Carmen
Kuda, Kuda - Tchaikovsky
Come un'ape ne giorni d'aprile- Rossini
Tu, che di gel sei cinta- Puccini
Selections from Disney's The Lion King
Circle of Life
Can You Feel the Love Tonight
Selections from La Traviata
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 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 jump to Act 4 where Marcello and Rodolfo have found themselves both single. They sing “O Mimì, tu più non torni” (O Mimì, you no longer return) as they try unsuccessfully to work while lamenting the loss of their sweethearts, Musetta and Mimì, who were their artistic muses.
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!
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.
"Come un'ape ne giorni d'aprile" (Like a bee in the days of April) is from the operatic version of Cinderella! In Rossini's interpretation, the prince meets Cinderella and her stepsisters disguised as his valet, Dandini, so that he can get a real impression of the women. Dandini, disguised as the prince, is the one who sings this aria, floridly describing his search for the fairest maiden in the land. He plays his role well and the two stepsisters are completely smitten. Rossini is known for his coloratura (rapid fast notes). See if you can keep track of how many notes are sung in this song!
"Tu che di gel sei cinta" (You who are encircled by ice) from Puccini's Turandot is the perfect example of dramatic Italian opera. Liù has been captured and tortured by a princess in order to find information about the prince Liù serves (and loves). Liù boldly stands up to the princess and makes the choice to take this precious information to the grave. Full of passion and anger, this aria allows the singer to open the throttle and sing fully from the heart.
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, 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.
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).
In Act 2, Violetta is happily living with Alfredo in his country home. She has sold most of her possessions to provide a happy and comfortable home for the pair. Germont, Alfredo's father arrives to convince Violetta to leave Alfredo as he believes this union looks bad for the family. After much debate, including Violetta revealing that she is the one paying for everything, Germont 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.
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.
With this, we want to thank all of you for joining us this evening. We hope you had an enjoyable evening with us. Cheers!
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