American soprano Renée Fleming and Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky concert in Moscow, 2006. It was the first concert of the “Hvorostovsky and Friends” concert series. State Chamber Orchestra of Russia conducted by Constantine Orbelian.

Fleming and Hvorostovsky in Moscow: Renée Fleming and Dmitri Hvorostovsky concert in Moscow, 2006

Fleming and Hvorostovsky in Moscow, Programme

  1. Georges Bizet – Overture to the opera “Carmen
  2. Georges Bizet – Escamillo Couplets (Toreador Song) from the opera “Carmen”
  3. Giuseppe Verdi – Violetta and Germont duet from the opera “La Traviata”
  4. Giuseppe Verdi – Aria Count di Luna from the opera “Il Trovatore”
  5. Jules Massenet – Herod’s aria from the opera “Hérodiade”
  6. Richard Strauss – “Cäcilie” from the cycle of four songs for voice and piano
  7. Erich Wolfgang Korngold – Marietta Aria from the opera “The Dead City”
  8. Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky – Shaklovity aria from the opera “Khovanshchina”
  9. Alexander Borodin – Prince Igor‘s aria from the opera “Prince Igor”
  10. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – The final scene from the opera “Eugene Onegin”
  11. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Duet from the opera “Don Giovanni”
  12. George Gershwin – Lullaby (Summertime) from “Porgy and Bess”
  13. Franz Lehár – Duet from the operetta “The Merry Widow”

Lyrics (Texts)

Georges Bizet: Escamillo Couplets (Toreador Song) from the opera “Carmen”

Carmen was first performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris, on 3 March 1875. The libretto was written by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy. At first, it was not particularly successful. Unfortunately, the French composer Georges Bizet died just three months later, on 3 June 1875, and couldn’t see the opera’s later celebrity.

Carmen initially gained its reputation through a series of productions outside France, and was not revived in Paris until 1883; thereafter it rapidly acquired celebrity at home and abroad, and continues to be one of the most frequently performed operas; the “Habanera” from act 1 and the “Toreador Song” from act 2 are among the best known of all operatic arias.

The Toreador Song is the popular name for the aria “Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre” from the opera Carmen, composed by Georges Bizet to a libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy. It is sung by the bullfighter Escamillo as he enters in act 2 (toréador is an old Spanish term for “bullfighter”) and describes various situations in the bullring, the cheering of the crowds, and the fame that comes with victory.

French

Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre,
Señors, señors car avec les soldats
oui, les toréros, peuvent s’entendre;
Pour plaisirs, pour plaisirs,
ils ont les combats!

Le cirque est plein, c’est jour de fête!
Le cirque est plein du haut en bas;
Les spectateurs, perdent la tête,
Les spectateurs s’interpellent
À grand fracas!

Apostrophes, cris et tapage
Poussés jusques à la fureur!
Car c’est la fête du courage!
C’est la fête des gens de cœur!
Allons! en garde!
Allons! allons! Ah!

(Refrain x2)
Toréador, en garde! Toréador!
Toréador!
Et songe bien, oui,
songe en combattant
Qu’un œil noir te regarde,
Et que l’amour t’attend,
Toréador, l’amour, l’amour t’attend!

Tout d’un coup, on fait silence,
On fait silence… ah! que se passe-t-il ?
Plus de cris, c’est l’instant!
Plus de cris, c’est l’instant!

Le taureau s’élance
en bondissant hors du toril!
Il s’élance! Il entre, il frappe!…
un cheval roule,
entraînant un picador,
“Ah! Bravo! Toro!” hurle la foule,
le taureau va… il vient…
il vient et frappe encore!

En secouant ses banderilles,
plein de fureur, il court!
Le cirque est plein de sang!
On se sauve… on franchit les grilles!
C’est ton tour maintenant!
Allons! en garde! allons! allons! Ah!

(Refrain x2)
Toréador, en garde! Toréador!
Toréador!
Et songe bien, oui, songe en combattant
Qu’un œil noir te regarde,
Et que l’amour t’attend,
Toréador, l’amour, l’amour t’attend!

L’amour! L’amour! L’amour!
Toréador, Toréador, Toreador!

English translation

Your toast, I can give it back to you,
Señores, Señores,because with soldiers
yes, toreros can get along;
For the pleasures, for the pleasure
they fight!

The circus is full, it is a celebrating day!
The circus is full from top to the ground;
The crowd goes mad,
the crowd is arguing
with a great deal!

Apostrophes, shouts, and noises
Push to the breaking point!
Because it is the celebration of courage!
It is the celebration of the braves of heart!
Let’s go! On guard! Let’s go!
Let’s go!Ah!

(Chorus x2)
Toreador, on guard! Toreador!
Toreador!
And think well, yes think
as you are fighting
that a dark eye is watching you,
and that love is waiting for you,
Toreador, love, love is waiting for you!

All at once, we are silent,
we are silent,… Oh, what is happening?
No more shouts, this is it!
No more shouts, this is it!

The bull is rushing
while jumping out of its fence!
He is rushing in! He’s entering, hitting!
A horse is falling,
Dragging down a picador.
“Ah! Bravo! Toro!” the crowd is calling,
The bull goes on… he comes…
he comes, hitting once more!

While shaking his banderillas,
full of rage, he runs!…
the circus is full of blood!
We flee… we pass the gates!
It’s your turn now!
Let’s go! On guard! Let’s go! Let’s go! Ah!

(Chorus x2)
Toreador, on guard! Toreador!
Toreador!
And think well, yes think as you are fighting
that a dark eye is watching you,
and that love is waiting for you,
Toreador, love, love is waiting for you!

Love! Love! Love!
Toreador, Toreador, Toreador!

Giuseppe Verdi: Violetta and Germont duet from the opera “La Traviata”

La Traviata is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi set to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. It is based on La dame aux Camélias (1852), a play adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas. The opera was originally entitled Violetta, after the main character. It was first performed on 6 March 1853 at the La Fenice opera house in Venice.

Madamigella Valéry? (Atto II duetto, Violetta/Germont)

GERMONT
Madamigella Valéry?

VIOLETTA
Son io.

GERMONT
D’Alfredo il padre in me vedete!

VIOLETTA
(sorpresa, l’invita a sedersi)
Voi!

GERMONT
Sì, dell’incauto, che a ruina corre,
ammaliato da voi.

VIOLETTA (risentita, alzandosi)
Donna son io, signore, ed in mia casa;
ch’io vi lasci assentite
più per voi che per me.
(Sta per uscire.)

GERMONT
(Quai modi!) Pure –

VIOLETTA
Tratto in error voi foste.

GERMONT
De’ suoi beni egli dono vuol farvi.

VIOLETTA
Non l’osò finora – rifiuterei.

GERMONT
(guardando intorno)
Pur tanto lusso –

VIOLETTA
A tutti è mistero quest’atto.
A voi nol sia.
(Gli dà una carta.)

GERMONT
(Germont scorre le carte.)
Ciel! Che discopro!
D’ogni vostro avere
or volete spogliarvi?
Ah, il passato, perché v’accusa?

VIOLETTA
Più non esiste – or amo Alfredo, e Dio
lo cancellò col pentimento mio.

GERMONT
Nobili sensi invero!

VIOLETTA
Oh, come dolce mi suona il vostro accento!

GERMONT
Ed a tai sensi
un sacrifizio chieggo –

VIOLETTA
(alzandosi)
Ah, no, tacete –
terribil cosa chiedereste certo.
Il previdi – v’attesi – era
felice troppo.

GERMONT
D’Alfredo il padre
la sorte, l’avvenir domanda or qui
de’ suoi due figli.

VIOLETTA
Di due figli!

GERMONT
Sì!
Pura siccome un angelo
Iddio mi diè una figlia;
se Alfredo nega riedere
in seno alla famiglia,
l’amato e amante giovine
cui sposa andar dovea,
or si ricusa al vincolo
che lieti ne rendeva.
Deh, non mutate in triboli
le rose dell’amor.
A’ prieghi miei resistere no, no
non voglia il vostro cor.

VIOLETTA
Ah, comprendo – dovrò per alcun tempo
da Alfredo allontanarmi – doloroso
fora per me – pur –

GERMONT
Non è ciò che chiedo.

VIOLETTA
Cielo, che più cercate?
Offersi assai!

GERMONT
Pur non basta.

VIOLETTA
Volete che per sempre a lui rinunzi?

GERMONT
È d’uopo!

VIOLETTA
Ah no! – giammai! No, no!
Non sapete quale affetto
vivo, immenso m’arda in petto?
Che né amici, né parenti
io non conto tra’ viventi?
E che Alfredo m’ha giurato
che in lui tutto troverò?
Non sapete che colpita
d’atro morbo è la mia vita?
Che già presso il fine vedo?
Ch’io mi separi da Alfredo!

Ah, il supplizio è sì spietato,
che a morir preferirò.

GERMONT
È grave il sacrifizio,
ma pur tranquilla uditemi,
bella voi siete e giovine –
col tempo –

VIOLETTA
Ah, più non dite –
v’intendo – m’è impossibile.
Lui solo amar vogl’io.

GERMONT
Sia pure – ma volubile sovente è l’uom –

VIOLETTA
Gran Dio!

GERMONT
Un dì, quando le veneri
il tempo avrà fugate,
fia presto il tedio a sorgere –
che sarà allor? Pensate –
per voi non avran balsamo
i più soavi affetti,
poiché dal ciel non furono
tai nodi benedetti.

VIOLETTA
È vero! È vero!

GERMONT
Ah, dunque sperdasi tal sogno seduttore.

VIOLETTA
È vero! È vero!

GERMONT
Siate di mia famiglia
l’angel consolatore
Violetta, deh, pensateci,
ne siete in tempo ancor.
È Dio che ispira, o giovine,
tai detti a un genitor.

VIOLETTA
Così alla misera ch’è un dì caduta,
di più risorgere speranza è muta!
Se pur benefico le indulga Iddio,
l’uomo implacabil per lei sarà.

GERMONT
Siate di mia famiglia l’angiol consolator.

VIOLETTA
(poi, piangendo, a Germont)
Ah! dite alla giovine sì bella e pura
ch’avvi una vittima della sventura,
cui resta un unico raggio di bene –
che a lei il sacrifica e che morrà!

GERMONT
Piangi, piangi, o misera, supremo, il veggo,
è il sacrifizio che ora ti chieggo.
Sento nell’anima già le tue pene;
coraggio e il nobile tuo cor vincerà!

VIOLETTA
Dite alla giovine sì bella e pura
ch’avvi una vittima della sventura,
cui resta un unico raggio di bene
che a lei il sacrifica e che morrà!

GERMONT
Ah supremo, il veggo,
è il sacrificio ch’ora ti chieggo.
Sento nell’anima già le tue pene;
coraggio e il nobile cor vincerà!
Piangi, o misera!

VIOLETTA
Imponete.

GERMONT
Non amarlo ditegli.

VIOLETTA
Nol crederà.

GERMONT
Partite.

VIOLETTA
Seguirammi.

GERMONT
Allor –

VIOLETTA
Qual figlia m’abbracciate,
forte così sarò.
(S’abbracciano.)

Tra breve ei vi fia reso.
Ma afflitto oltre ogni dire.
(indicandogli il giardino)
A suo conforto
di colà volerete.
(Violetta va a scrivere.)

GERMONT
Che pensate?

VIOLETTA
Sapendo, v’opporreste al pensier mio.

GERMONT
Generosa! E per voi che far poss’io?
O generosa!

VIOLETTA
(tornando a lui)
Morrò! La mia memoria
non fia ch’ei maledica,
se le mie pene orribili
vi sia chi almen gli dica.

GERMONT
No, generosa, vivere,
e lieta voi dovrete;
mercè di queste lagrime
dal cielo un giorno avrete.

VIOLETTA
Conosca il sacrifizio
ch’io consumai d’amore –
che sarà suo fin l’ultimo
sospiro del mio cor.

GERMONT
Premiato il sacrifizio
sarà del vostro core;
d’un’opra così nobile
sarete fiera allor. Sì, sì –

VIOLETTA
Conosca il sacrifizio
ch’io consumai d’amore –
che sarà suo fin l’ultimo
sospiro del mio cor.

GERMONT
Sarete fiera allor.
D’un’opra così nobile
sarete fiera allor.
Premiato il sacrifizio
sarà del vostro cor;
d’un’opra così nobil
sarete fiera allor.

VIOLETTA
Qui giunge alcun! Partite!

GERMONT
Oh, grato v’è il cor mio!

VIOLETTA
Partite! Non ci vedrem più forse –
(S’abbracciano.)

VIOLETTA, GERMONT
Siate felice!

VIOLETTA
Addio!

GERMONT
Addio!

VIOLETTA
Conosca il sacrifizio…

GERMONT
Sì!

VIOLETTA
…ch’io consumai d’amore –
che sarà suo fin l’ultimo…
Addio!

GERMONT
Addio!

VIOLETTA
che sarà suo fin l’ultimo…
Addio!

VIOLETTA, GERMONT
Felice siate, addio!
(Germont esce per la porta del giardino.)

VIOLETTA
Dammi tu forza, o cielo!
(Siede e scrive.)

Mademoiselle Valéry? (Act II Duet, Violetta/Germont)

GERMONT
Mademoiselle Valéry?

VIOLETTA
You seek to find me?

GERMONT
You see here Alfredo’s father!

VIOLETTA
(surprised, she invites him to sit down)
You!

GERMONT
Yes, he of the imprudent youngster, who runs to ruin,
captivated by you.

Violetta
(resentful, getting up)
I am a lady, sir, and you are in my house;
that I leave, please accept
that it’s more for your sake than mine.
(Starts to leave.)

GERMONT
(What ways!) The matter is –

VIOLETTA
I think you were getting things a little wrong.

GERMONT
He would endow you with all his worldly goods.

VIOLETTA
He has not so far ventured – I’d refuse.

GERMONT
(looking around)
Despite all this luxury –

VIOLETTA
No one knows the content of this.
To you, it will be no secret.
(Gives him a card.)

GERMONT
(Germont skims through the document.)
Heaven! What a revelation!
You want to sell off
all your possessions.
Ah, the past, why does it always catch up with you?

VIOLETTA
It no longer exists – now I love Alfredo, and God
erased it with my repentance.

GERMONT
Noble sentiments indeed!

VIOLETTA
Oh, how sweet you make it sound!

GERMONT
And it’s of such sentiment
that I ask a sacrifice –

Violetta
(getting up)
Ah, no, please don’t ask it –
it’s for sure something terrible.
I foresaw it – I’ve been expecting you – I was
too happy.

GERMONT
The father of Alfredo
now asks regarding the fate, the future,
of his two children.

VIOLETTA
Of two children!

GERMONT
Yes!
Pure as an angel,
God gave me a daughter;
if Alfredo declines to return
to the bosom of his family,
the loved and loving young man,
whose bride she was to be,
will now revoke his proposal
that made her so happy.
Oh, please do not turn to affliction
the roses of love.
May your heart not desire
to turn aside my prayers.

VIOLETTA
Oh, so what you ask – I’m to stay away
from Alfredo for a while – a great sad void
for me – just –

GERMONT
That is not what I am asking.

VIOLETTA
God, what more can you be asking?
I’m already offering a lot!

GERMONT
Only, it’s not enough.

VIOLETTA
You want me to part from him for good?

GERMONT
That is what is necessary!

VIOLETTA
Ah, no! – never! No, no!
You don’t know what an immense, burning
affection lives within my soul?
That neither friends, nor relatives,
can I now count on?
And that Alfredo has sworn to me
that I will find everything in him?
You don’t know how my life
is struck by a dark disease?
That already I see myself near my end?
That I should leave Alfredo!

Ah, faced with such lack of mercy,
I’d rather die.

GERMONT
It’s a very great sacrifice,
but please hear me out calmly,
you are beautiful and young –
with time –

VIOLETTA
Ah, stop there –
I understand – but I can’t.
I want to love him and him alone.

GERMONT
As that may be – but man is often fickle –

VIOLETTA
Oh, dear God!

GERMONT
One day, when your looks
time will have withered,
tedium will soon set in –
what will be then? Think –
for you, they will have no balm,
those sweetest affections,
for they were not from heaven,
those blessed knots.

VIOLETTA
It’s true! It’s true!

GERMONT
Ah, then such a seductive dream is lost.

VIOLETTA
It’s true! It’s true!

GERMONT
Be of my family
the consoling angel,
Violetta, prithee, think about it,
you still have time.
It is God who prompts, Mademoiselle,
a parent to say such things.

VIOLETTA
So it is then, that for the wretch who falls one day,
all hope of re-arising is suppressed!
If God indulges her with beneficence,
man, however, will be implacable towards her.

GERMONT
Be of my family the consoling angel.

VIOLETTA
(then, crying, to Germont)
Ah! tell the young girl, so beautiful and pure,
that she sends on her way a victim of misfortune,
for whom remains but one strand of good –
who will sacrifice it for her and who is going to die!

GERMONT
Weep, weep, oh wretched one, supreme, I see,
is the sacrifice that I’m now asking of you.
In my heart, I can already feel your pain;
courage and your noble heart will find victory!

VIOLETTA
Tell the young girl, so beautiful and pure,
that she sends on her way a victim of misfortune,
for whom remains but one strand of good –
who will sacrifice it for her and who is going to die!

GERMONT
Ah supreme, I see,
is the sacrifice that I’m now asking of you.
In my heart, I can already feel your pain;
courage and your noble heart will win!
Weep, oh wretched one!

VIOLETTA
What am I to do?

GERMONT
Tell him you don’t love him.

VIOLETTA
He won’t believe it.

GERMONT
Leave.

VIOLETTA
He’ll come after me.

GERMONT
Well –

VIOLETTA
Embrace me as a daughter,
so that I may be strong.
(They embrace.)

He will be returned to you shortly.
But afflicted beyond words.
(pointing to the garden)
For your comfort,
he will fly from there.
(Violetta starts to write.)

GERMONT
What are you thinking of?

VIOLETTA
If you knew my thoughts, you would oppose me.

GERMONT
Generous woman! And what can I do for you?
Oh, one so generous!

VIOLETTA
(returning to him)
I’m going to die! It will not be
that he curses my memory
if of my terrible pains
there is one who at least tells him.

GERMONT
No, dear generous lady, you must
live and be happy;
Mercy from these tears
will one day be granted you by heaven.

VIOLETTA
That he knows the sacrifice
that I made of the love –
that which I had for him, will be his to the last
sigh of my heart.

GERMONT
Your heart will recognize
the sacrifice you are making;
of such a noble act,
you will be proud. Yes, yes –

VIOLETTA
That he knows the sacrifice
that I made of the love –
that which I had for him, will be his to the last
sigh of my heart.

GERMONT
You will be proud.
Of such a noble act,
you will be proud.
Your heart will recognize
the sacrifice you are making;
of such a noble act,
you will be proud.

VIOLETTA
No one is to see us here! Go!

GERMONT
Oh, my heart is grateful to you!

VIOLETTA
Go! We may never see each other again –
(They embrace.)

VIOLETTA, GERMONT
Be happy!

VIOLETTA
Goodbye!

GERMONT
Goodbye!

VIOLETTA
That he knows the sacrifice…

GERMONT
Indeed!

VIOLETTA
…that I made of the love –
that which I had for him, will be his to the last…
Goodbye!

GERMONT
Goodbye!

VIOLETTA
that which I had for him, will be his to the last…
Goodbye!

VIOLETTA, GERMONT
Be happy, goodbye!
(Germont goes out through the garden door.)

VIOLETTA
Give me strength, oh Lord!
(Sits and writes.)

Giuseppe Verdi: Aria Count di Luna from the opera “Il Trovatore”

Il trovatore (The Troubadour) is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto largely written by Salvadore Cammarano, based on the play El trovador (1836) by Antonio García Gutiérrez.

Jules Massenet: Herod’s aria from the opera “Hérodiade”

Hérodiade is an opera in four acts by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Paul Milliet and Henri Grémont, based on the novella Hérodias (1877) by Gustave Flaubert. It was first performed at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels on 19 December 1881. The libretto is a retelling of the story of John the Baptist, Salome, Herod Antipas, and Herodias (a princess of the Herodian Dynasty of Judaea during the time of the Roman Empire).

Richard Strauss: “Cäcilie” from the cycle of four songs for voice and piano

Cäcilie, Op. 27 No. 2, is the second in a set of four songs composed by Richard Strauss in 1894. The words are from a love poem “Cäcilie” written by Heinrich Hart (1855-1906), a German dramatic critic and journalist who also wrote poetry. It was written for the poet’s wife Cäcilie.

Cäcilie

Wenn du es wüßtest,
Was träumen heißt von brennenden Küssen,
Von Wandern und Ruhen mit der Geliebten,
Aug in Auge,
Und kosend und plaudernd,
Wenn du es wüßtest,
Du neigtest dein Herz !

Wenn du es wüßtest,
Was bangen heißt in einsamen Nächten,
Um schauert vom Sturm, da niemand tröstet
Milden Mundes die kampfmüde Seele,
Wenn du es wüßtest,
Du kämest zu mir.

Wenn du es wüßtest,
Was leben heißt, umhaucht von der Gottheit
Weltschaffendem Atem,
Zu schweben empor, lichtgetragen,
Zu seligen Höhn,
Wenn du es wüßtest, wenn du es wüßtest,
Du lebtest mit mir.

Cecilia

If you but knew, sweet,
what ’tis to dream of fond, burning kisses,
of wandering and resting with the belov’d one;
gazing fondly
caressing and chatting,
could I but tell you,
your heart would assent.

If you but knew, sweet,
the anguish of waking thro’ nights long and lonely
and rocked by the storm when no one is near
to soothe and comfort the strife-weary spirit.
Could I but tell you,
you’d come, sweet, to me.

If you but knew, sweet,
what living is, in the creative breath of
God, Lord, and Maker
to hover, upborne on dove-like pinions
to regions of light,
if you but knew it, could I but tell you,
you’d dwell, sweet, with me.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Marietta Aria from the opera “The Dead City”

Die tote Stadt (German for The Dead City) is an opera in three acts by Erich Wolfgang Korngold to a libretto by Paul Schott, a collective pseudonym for the composer and his father, Julius Korngold; it is based on the 1892 novel Bruges-la-Morte by Georges Rodenbach.

Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky: Shaklovity aria from the opera “Khovanshchina”

Khovanshchina (Russian: Хованщина, Hovánščina, sometimes rendered The Khovansky Affair; since the ending -ščina is pejorative) is an opera (subtitled a ‘national music drama’) in five acts by Modest Mussorgsky. Khovanskygate, the name given to a 2014 production in Birmingham, UK, is a modern equivalent.

The work was written between 1872 and 1880 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The composer wrote the libretto based on historical sources. The opera was unfinished and unperformed when the composer died in 1881. Like Mussorgsky’s earlier Boris Godunov, Khovanshchina deals with an episode in Russian history, first brought to the composer’s attention by his friend Vladimir Stasov. It concerns the rebellion of Prince Ivan Khovansky, the Old Believers, and the Streltsy against Peter the Great, who was attempting to institute Westernizing reforms in Russia.

Peter succeeded, the rebellion was crushed, and (in the opera, at least) the Old Believers committed mass suicide. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov completed, revised, and scored Khovanshchina in 1881-1882. Because of his extensive cuts and “recomposition”, Dmitri Shostakovich revised the opera in 1959 based on Mussorgsky’s vocal score, and it is the Shostakovich version that is usually performed.

In 1913 Igor Stravinsky and Maurice Ravel made their own arrangement at Sergei Diaghilev’s request. When Feodor Chaliapin refused to sing the part of Dosifei in any other orchestration than Rimsky-Korsakov’s, Diaghilev’s company employed a mixture of orchestrations that did not prove successful.

The Stravinsky-Ravel orchestration was forgotten, except for Stravinsky’s finale, which is still used. Although the setting of the opera is the Moscow Uprising of 1682, its main themes are the struggle between progressive and reactionary political factions during the minority of Tsar Peter the Great and the passing of old Muscovy before Peter’s westernizing reforms. It received its first performance in the Rimsky-Korsakov edition in 1886.

Alexander Borodin: Prince Igor’s aria from the opera “Prince Igor”

Prince Igor is an opera in four acts with a prologue, written and composed by Alexander Borodin. The composer adapted the libretto from the Ancient Russian epic The Lay of Igor’s Host, which recounts the campaign of Rus prince Igor Svyatoslavich against the invading Cuman (“Polovtsian”) tribes in 1185.

He also incorporated material drawn from two medieval Kievan chronicles. The opera was left unfinished upon the composer’s death in 1887 and was edited and completed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Glazunov. It was first performed in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1890.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: The final scene from the opera “Eugene Onegin”

Eugene Onegin, Op. 24 is an opera (“lyrical scenes”) in 3 acts (7 scenes), composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The libretto, organized by the composer and Konstantin Shilovsky, very closely follows certain passages in Alexander Pushkin’s novel in verse, retaining much of his poetry.

Shilovsky contributed M. Triquet’s verses in Act 2, Scene 1, while Tchaikovsky wrote the words for Lensky’s arioso in Act 1, Scene 1, and almost all of Prince Gremin’s aria in Act 3, Scene 1. Eugene Onegin is a well-known example of lyric opera, to which Tchaikovsky added music of a dramatic nature.

The story concerns a selfish hero who lives to regret his blasé rejection of a young woman’s love and his careless incitement of a fatal duel with his best friend. The opera was first performed in Moscow in 1879.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Duet from the opera “Don Giovanni”

Don Giovanni (K. 527; complete title: Il dissoluto punito, ossia il Don Giovanni, literally The Rake Punished, or Don Giovanni) is an opera in two acts with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and an Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. It is based on the legends of Don Juan, a fictional libertine and seducer.

The opera was premiered by the Prague Italian opera at the Teatro di Praga (now called the Estates Theatre) on October 29, 1787. Da Ponte’s libretto was billed, like many of its time, as dramma giocoso, a term that denotes a mixing of serious and comic action. Mozart entered the work into his catalog as an opera buffa (a genre of opera. It was first used as an informal description of Italian comic operas). Although sometimes classified as comic, it blends comedy, melodrama, and supernatural elements.

George Gershwin: Lullaby (Summertime) from “Porgy and Bess”

“Summertime” is an aria composed by George Gershwin for the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess. The lyrics are by DuBose Heyward, the author of the novel Porgy on which the opera was based, although the song is also co-credited to Ira Gershwin by ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers).

Summertime lyrics (Gershwin)

Summertime,
And the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’
And the cotton is high

Your daddy’s rich
And your mamma’s good lookin’
So hush little baby
Don’t you cry

One of these mornings
You’re going to rise up singing
Then you’ll spread your wings
And you’ll take to the sky

But till that morning
There’s a’nothing can harm you
With daddy and mamma standing by

Franz Lehár: Duet from the operetta “The Merry Widow”

The Merry Widow (German: Die lustige Witwe) is an operetta by the Austro-Hungarian composer Franz Lehár. The librettists, Viktor Léon and Leo Stein, based the story – concerning a rich widow, and her countrymen’s attempt to keep her money in the principality by finding her the right husband – on an 1861 comedy play, L’attaché d’ambassade (The Embassy Attaché) by Henri Meilhac.

Moscow, 2006 - Fleming and Hvorostovsky
Moscow, 2006 – Fleming and Hvorostovsky. It was the first concert of the “Hvorostovsky and Friends” concert series. State Chamber Orchestra of Russia conducted by Constantine Orbelian.

Sources

M. Özgür Nevres

Published by M. Özgür Nevres

I am Özgür Nevres, a software engineer, an ex-road racing cyclist, and also an amateur musician. I opened andantemoderato.com to share my favorite music. I also take care of stray cats & dogs. Please consider supporting me on Patreon.

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