Concert one: 7.30pm, Sunday 7 June 2009

St David's Hall, Cardiff. Photo © Brian Tarr

Programme notes for concert one.

Last updated: 08 June 2009

View a photo gallery from concert one.

Etienne Dupuis - Canada

À quoi bon l'économie (Manon) - Massenet

Lescaut, Manon's brother, is a soldier in the Royal Guard and an inveterate gambler. Enjoying himself at a fete in the Cours la Reine in Paris, he sings of his cavalier attitude to life - "What's the point in living cheaply?"

Papagena (Die Zauberflöte) - Mozart

Papageno, the bird catcher, is miserable because, the moment he found his Papagena, she was whisked away by the priests of the temple. He calls to her, using his pipes, but to no avail. He becomes suicidal, desperate at the thought that he may never see the love of his life again, and says goodbye to the world.

L'orage s'est calmé (Les pêcheurs de perles) - Bizet

Zurga is king of the fishermen and best friend of Nadir. In the past, they were rivals for the hand of Leila, but both gave her up in the name of friendship. When Nadir and Leila meet again, they fall in love, and when Zurga finds out, he condemns them to death. But he is unsure of his decision and contrasts his troubled state of mind with the calm weather following the recent storm.

Largo al factotum (Il barbiere di Siviglia) - Rossini

Figaro introduces himself in this famous 'patter' aria. Not only is he the barber of Seville, with his well-stocked shop, but he is also the general factotum of the city. He is happy to run errands, arrange meetings and perform all kinds of services - as long as he gets paid for it.

Dana Bramane - Latvia

Donde lieta uscì (La bohème) - Puccini

Rodolfo has told Mimì that they must part because she has been flirting with other men, but in reality, it is because he cannot bear to watch her die of consumption. Mimì tells Rodolfo to wrap up her few belongings - a ring and a prayer-book - for the concierge to collect. But, she says, he can keep the pink bonnet as a souvenir. She bids him farewell without ill-will.

C'est des contrebandiers ... Je dis que rien ne m'epouvante (Carmen) - Bizet

Carmen has persuaded Don José to come with her and join the band of smugglers in the mountains. Micaëla, Don José's former sweetheart, is as innocent as her rival is worldly and she has come to try and release him from Carmen's spell. She tells herself that she is not afraid in this savage place and prays for courage.

Signore, ascolta! (Turandot) - Puccini

Calaf is one of many men to fall in love with the beautiful princess, Turandot. Suitors for her hand must correctly answer three riddles, or be put to death. The slave girl, Liù, is in love with Calaf, and begs him not to put his life at risk.

In quali eccessi - Mi tradì quell' alma ingrate (Don Giovanni) - Mozart

Donna Elvira's outpouring of rage against Don Giovanni did not exist when the opera was first performed, but was inserted in the Vienna version, so that Katharina Cavalieri would have something to give her voice full rein. She sings of the Don's betrayal of her and her unhappiness at his hands and yet she continues to have feelings of love for him.

Fernando Javier Radó - Argentina

Ella giammai m'amò! ... Dormirò sol nel manto mio regal (Don Carlo) - Verdi

King Philip II of Spain's new queen is the Frenchwoman Elisabeth de Valois, a political match to forge peace between the two countries. Elisabeth was once engaged to Philip's son, Carlo, and although she resigns herself to do her duty to her people, she remains in love with him. As dawn breaks, Philip sings of his failure to win her heart, and reflects sadly that he is destined to sleep alone.

Non più andrai (Le nozze di Figaro) - Mozart

Figaro teases the young, amorous teenager, Cherubino, who has been told to leave Seville and join the army. He tells Cherubino about the realities of warfare: there will be no more dancing with the ladies but instead he will be wading through the mud of the battlefield.

O patria - O tu, Palermo (I vespri siciliani) - Verdi

Procida, exiled leader of the Sicilian patriots, has returned to his homeland in secret to drum up resistance against the French occupying forces. Here, he sings of his travels throughout the world and his love for his native country.

Emiliya Ivanova - Bulgaria

Regnava nel silenzio (Lucia di Lammermoor) - Donizetti

Lucia is waiting by the fountain to meet her lover, Edgardo. She sings to her nurse about the ghost of a girl, murdered by one of Edgardo's ancestors, which appeared to her beside the fountain. The spirit beckoned to her before disappearing into the waters, which turned red around her.

Ach, ich fühl's (Die Zauberflöte) - Mozart

Pamina, unaware that her lover Tamino has been placed under a vow of silence as part of an ordeal, thinks his silence means he no longer loves her. Heartbroken, she sings this plaintive aria, saying she does not want to go on living if he will not speak to her.

Je veux vivre (Roméo et Juliette) - Gounod

Juliette is at a masked ball at her family home and her beauty has been much admired. In this graceful aria, often known as Juliette's Waltz Song, the young, high-spirited girl declares herself uninterested in marriage, saying she wants to live in a world of dreams.

Eri Nakamura - Japan

Quel guardo il cavaliere ... So anch'io la virtù magica (Don Pasquale) - Donizetti

Norina, a young widow, is engrossed in a novel about love. In the recitative, she reads aloud from the book and in the flirtatious aria which follows, she explains that she knows just what to do to ensnare a man.

Allons! Il le faut! ... Adieu, notre petite table (Manon) - Massenet

Manon is giving up her lover, des Grieux, having been persuaded by her opportunistic brother that she will be better off with the rich nobleman, de Brétigny. She sings a poignant farewell to the little table, which symbolised the life she shared with des Grieux in their apartment.

Dieu! quel frisson ... Amour, ranime mon courage (Roméo et Juliette) - Gounod

Juliette asks for love to give her courage before she drinks the potion which will make her appear to be dead. She toasts her lover Roméo, but is frightened in case she wakes up in the tomb before he reaches her, or in case she should find herself placed close to the body of Tybalt, with his bloody wounds.

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