Programme notes for concert five.
Last updated: 11 June 2009
Wade Kernot - New Zealand
Gremin's aria (Eugene Onegin) - Tchaikovsky
The elderly Prince Gremin has married Tatyana, and together they greet their guests at a St Petersburg ball. Eugene Onegin recognises Tatyana as the woman he had rejected some years before, and Gremin tells him how much he loves his wife, and that her love is the only noble thing he has ever known.
Leporello, Don Giovanni's servant, tells the distraught Donna Elvira that she is only one of his master's many conquests. He produces his catalogue of all the women Don Giovanni has seduced. Some are young, some are old, some pretty and some plain. In Spain alone, the total is no fewer than 1003 - 'mille e tre'.
A te l'estremo addio ... Il lacerato spirito (Simon Boccanegra) - Verdi
The pirate, Simon Boccanegra, has agreed to stand as Doge of Genoa in the hope that the nobleman Fiesco will allow his marriage to Maria, his daughter. Fiesco disapproves of Boccanegra and has imprisoned Maria in his palace to keep the lovers apart. But Maria has died after giving birth to Boccanegra's child, and Fiesco mourns his daughter's death.
Helen Kearns - Ireland
Kommt ein schlanker Bursch gegangen (Der Freischütz) - Weber
Agathe, the heroine, is worried by premonitions of doom and anxious about a picture which fell off the wall onto her. Her flighty young cousin, Ännchen, helps her re-hang it and tries to distract her by singing a charming little aria about what a girl should do when a handsome young man passes by.
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.
Chanson du Rossignol (Le Rossignol) - Stravinsky
The nightingale, singing in the forests of China, enchants everyone who hears her. The Emperor's courtiers persuade the nightingale to come to court to sing for the Emperor, and she sings to him about gardens in the moonlight. When the Emperor offers the bird the Order of the Golden Slipper, she refuses, saying the tear which her singing has brought to the Emperor's eye is reward enough.
Giordano Lucà - Italy
Questa o quella (Rigoletto) - Verdi
The Duke of Mantua introduces himself and explains his attitude to women. They are all the same to him, and he refuses to get involved with any of them. He will seduce one girl one day, and another the next, despising fidelity. His next victim is to be Gilda, the daughter of the Duke's jester, Rigoletto.
Che gelida manina (La bohème) - Puccini
On Christmas Eve, Mimì, a seamstress, has come upstairs to Rodolfo's garret, looking for a light for her candle. She drops her key in the dark; Rodolfo ﬁnds it and as their hands touch, he notices how icily cold her little hand is. They fall in love.
La mia letizia infondere (I lombardi) - Verdi
Oronte, a Muslim soldier, meets the captive Giselda, a Christian, and they fall in love. He sings ardently of his feelings, and agrees to convert to Christianity, to be with her. If Giselda believes in the Christian God, he reasons, He must be the True One.
Federico is heartbroken, because he loves a girl of ill-repute, and his family is making him marry another. In this lament, he wishes he could sleep like a shepherd boy: now he will never find peace. He will never forget his own true love.
Pourquoi me réveiller (Werther) - Massenet
Werther, a poet, was in love with Charlotte, but her late mother wanted her to be with Albert and they are now married. But Werther returns to Charlotte. They read together - the poems of Ossian, which Werther once translated for her. He sings one of them, asking why the breath of spring awakes him, when he cannot return to the glory of his youth. He realises that he and Charlotte will never be together.
Marc Canturri - Andorra
Roméo and his friend Mercutio have gatecrashed the Capulets' ball in disguise. Mercutio suggests they use the opportunity to create trouble at their enemy's house, but Romeo disagrees, saying that he had a premonition in a dream. In this aria, Mercutio makes light of Roméo's gloom with the tale of Mab, the queen of dreams.
Deh, vieni alla finestra (Don Giovanni) - Mozart
Don Giovanni, keen as ever to conquer the hearts of as many women as possible, disguises himself as his servant Leporello in order to seduce Donna Elvira's maid. He sings this serenade beneath Donna Elvira's balcony, strumming on his mandolin, calling the maid to come to the window, or he will die of sorrow.
Mein Sehnen, mein Wähnen (Die tote Stadt) - Korngold
Fritz, a pierrot, is an admirer of the heroine, Mariette, and he serenades her with Pierrot's Tanzlied (Dance Song). This is one of the best-known arias from the 1920 opera The Dead City. He sings with sad yearning of the magic of the dance, how he dreams of his lost love and how the extremes of intoxication and misery are a clown's lot.
In dura schiavitù - D'una tradita madre (Emilia di Liverpool) - Donizetti
Claudio, Emilia's father, has returned home after twenty years as a slave in Africa, where he was reported to have died. His troubles are not over, as he has discovered that his wife is dead, due, he believes, to their daughter Emilia's decision to elope with an unsuitable man. Claudio sings of his unhappy fate: as a slave, and now as a widower. At first, he seeks revenge against Emilia for her treachery, but then his attitude softens and he says he will forgive her if she is sorry and then they can shed tears together.
Dora Rodrigues - Portugal
Je voudrais bien savoir ... Ah! je ris (Faust) - Gounod
Marguérite has found a casket of jewels, which has been left on her doorstep by Méphistophélès to tempt her. Singing the Jewel Song, she tries them on and admires herself in the mirror - their beauty makes her as lovely as a princess.
Donde lieta uscì (La bohème) - Puccini
Rodolfo has told Mimì that they must part, as 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 her pink bonnet as a souvenir. She bids him farewell without ill-will.
Giuditta is a beautiful woman who, bored with her husband, has run away to live in North Africa with a handsome soldier, Octavio. When he is called away by his regiment, Giuditta becomes a dancer in a night club. Here, she sings of her irresistibility to men - it is because "My kisses are so hot."