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Image by Olena Sergienko

Opera Under the Stars
 

July 15th, 2023

Water Works Pavilion

With Guest Artists
Alexis Reed and Benjamin Dutcher

Program Order

Champagne Trio from Die Fledermaus

Selections from La Bohème

  • Mi chiamano Mimì

  • Quando me'n vo

  • O soave fanciulla

  • Act 3 Quartet

Aria Off!

  • Chaqun le sait

  • Vissi D’arte

  • Stay in My Arms

Selections from She Loves Me

  • I Don’t Know His Name

  • Will He Like Me?

  • Grand Knowing You

  • Where is My Shoe

  • Vanilla Ice Cream

Intermission

Selections from La Traviata

  • Libiamo

  • Ah forsè lui...sempre libera

  • Deh miei bolleti spriti

  • O mio rimorso

  • Parigi o cara

A Quartet of Duets!

  • Belle nuit

  • Flower duet

  • Suddenly Seymore

  • What is this feeling?

Selections from Les Misérables

  • I Dreamed a Dream

  • Bring Him Home

  • A Little Fall of Rain

  • Do You Hear the People Sing?

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 young bachelors sharing a small apartment unit. There is Rodolfo the poet, Marcello the artist, Colline the philosopher, and Schaunard the musician.

 

​Act 1 takes place on 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. 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.

 Act 2 is all about Musetta. The whole act builds to her entrance and her aria, Musetta’s Waltz, officially titled “Quando me’n vo’” (When I go along). Marcello is out at the Café Momus with his friends when his ex-girlfriend, Musetta, walks in. 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.

Act 3 spells tough times for our lovers. Musetta and Marcello are fighting again. Rodolfo and Mimì have broken up, but they plan to rekindle things at least until spring. The issue in their relationship is that Mimì is dying of tuberculosis and Rudolfo is having a hard time witnessing her decline. In the Act 3 Quartet, Rodolfo and Mimì sing about staying together at least until the spring. Their heartbreaking duet together is interrupted by Musetta and Marcello having another one of their screaming matches. In our version, since we only have the trio, listen for Marcello’s taunts in the piano line.

 

Aria Off

Chacun le sais- From the opera Le fille du regiment (Daughter of the regiment), this aria is classic Donizetti bel canto singing. Marie is the canteen girl of the 21st regiment in the French army. She has grown up in the regiment and is seen as one of the family. Upon capturing a prisoner, Tonio (later a love interest, because opera), the regiment urges Marie to sing their regiment’s song, Chacun le sais (Everyone knows it) in celebration. You can hear the bugle call in Marie’s opening notes.

Vissi d’arte- From Puccini’s opera, Tosca. Tosca herself, a very pious singer, in love with the artist Caveradossi has found herself kidnapped and blackmailed by Scarpia, the chief of police. It turns out that Caveradossi had a visit from his friend who was a political fugitive and Caveradossi helped him escape. Tosca has now found herself embroiled in this drama with her interrogation with Scarpia possibly having a direct impact of whether Caveradossi lives or dies. Tosca reflects wondering how she landed in this situation and questions God, how could he do this to her? She has only ever served him faithfully!

Stay in my arms- A love ballad written by Marc Blitzstein. He wrote it for his wife, who was struggling with anorexia. She later died from the disease. The song pleads with her to stay with him so they can continue through life together. And extra twist to this song was that Marc Blitzstein was a gay man, but his dedication and love for his wide shines through in this song reminding us that love can encompass family, friends, lovers, pets, and anyone who is with us on this journey through life.

She Love Me – Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick

She Loves Me is a musical with the same plot as the 1998 film, You’ve Got Mail. So if you are familiar with that movie, you already know the plot!

Georg and Amalia are two convenience store clerk who do not get along at work. But what they don’t know is that they are each other’s anonymous pen pal, and both are falling in love with their respective letter writers!

We are jumping into this musical deep into act 1. Drama has been occurring at the shop and tensions are high among the coworkers. Outside work, Amalia is telling her friend, Ilona, about her “dear friend” pen pal. Ilona is shocked to learn that Amalia could be falling in love with someone and she doesn’t even know his name (I Don’t Know His Name). Soon after, Amalia is getting ready to meet her “dear friend” for the first time. She leaves the house with a copy of Anna Karenina and a red rose so that her “dear friend” can identify her. She sings Will He Like Me?, ponder that exact question. Georg walks in and is shocked to find that Amalia is his date! But instead of going along with the date, Georg goes over to taunt her with a story about a woman who was murdered on a blind date. Amalia is not a fan of this and they fight. Eventually Georg leaves and Amalia is left sitting alone until the restaurant closes, hoping her ‘dear friend’ will still come.

The next day, Amalia calls in sick to work. Worried about her, Georg goes to visit her. Amalia is worried Georg will tell everyone at work she is faking and desperately tries to get ready. Georg sees that Amalia is actually sick and forces her back into bed, (Where is My Shoe?). He presents her with a gift, vanilla ice cream. Amalia is surprised at how well the conversation went and that she actually enjoyed talking to Georg. She writes a letter telling her “dear friend” about the interaction and to smooth over what ever had happened the previous night, but keeps getting derailed reliving the details of her interaction with Georg and the vanilla ice cream gift (Vanilla Ice Cream).

Kodaly, another employee at the store, has been causing all sort of problems in the background. Seducing Ilona, having an affair with their boss’s wife, etc. He is finally caught and fired. He sings Grand Knowing You as his not so sorry apology and smooth departure. No one seems too sad to watch him go.

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 begins "Libiamo" (Let's be free) where he toasts to true love.  This 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 and declaring his love for her. 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).

Act 2 opens with Violetta and Alfredo living happily together in the countryside. Alfredo sings De miei bolleti spiriti (My passionate spirit) about how happy he is. But it all falls apart when Alfredo’s father, Germont, appears. He tells Violetta that she must leave Alfredo because it looks bad for the family having Alfredo and Violetta living together (Violetta is seen more as a mistress than wife material). Germont finally convinces Violetta that leaving is the right thing. She leaves Alfredo a note and disappears. When Alfredo finds the note, he is heart broken and angry and follows Violetta. They meet at a party later that night where Alfredo takes out his anger and insults her. Things are awkward as it was pretty dramatic and in public. Alfredo sings O mio rimorso (Oh my remorse) about his regrets.

We then move to Act 3. Violetta is dying and her only wish is to see Alfredo one more time. At the last moment, Alfredo rushes in and Violetta is overjoyed. They sing Parigi, o cara (Paris, my dear) about how they will start a new life together in Paris and once again be happy. Both know that this is just a dream as Violetta is quickly fading and dies at the end of the act.

 

Duets

Its not often we have two fabulous sopranos on the roster. To make the most of it, Carole and Alexis are singing some great female duets! And we let Ben have one too, especially since Little Shop of Horrors is currently playing at the Guthrie!

Belle nuit- The famous duet, also known as Barcarolle, from Tales of Hoffman by Offenbach. In this opera, each act is about a different one of Hoffman’s loves. This duet opens Act 3, the story about Giulietta, which is a tale of unrequited love. The other voice in the duet is Nicklausse, Hoffman’s poetic muse portrayed as his young male companion. This is an example of a ‘pants role’ where in opera, young men are played by mezzo sopranos to give their voices the characteristics of an unchanged voice.

The Flower Duet- Another beautiful duet for two women. This duet is from the rarely performed opera, Lakmé by Delibes. While you have probably never seen this opera, most of you have probably heard this song. It is one of the most widely excerpted duets from all of opera, often providing the soundtrack for commercials, movie scenes, and more!

Suddenly Seymour- A fun duet from Alan Menken’s Little Shop of Horrors. The two main characters, Audrey and Seymour, admit their feelings for each other. In the background, the is an alien, human-eating plant named Audrey II who ate human Audrey’s previous bad boy friend. It’s a fun show.

What is this feeling?­- From the show Wicked. Set in the land of Oz before Dorthey arrived, this is a duet between Glinda the Good Witch and Elphaba (aka the Wicked Witch of the West) before either of them earned those titles. They have just arrived at school and were assigned to be roommates. They are not thrilled with this. Anyone who has received a random roommate assignment at college might related to this song.

 

 Les Miserables- Claude-Michel Schönberg

We are closing today’s show with a few selections from the musical that holds the title of Longest-Running Musical in London’s West End theater district. Thank you so much for coming and enjoy these favorites from our final set!

Thank you!!

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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