Sunday, August 30, 2009

Topsy-Turvy, a GENIAL rehearsal scene (Japanese No! Japanese Yes!)

1885. The Mikado is in rehearsals when Gilbert (Jim Broadbent) invites four Japanese guests from a traveling exhibit to watch the proceedings and help this cast to master the Japanese dance. The chaos ensues on the rehearsal stage...

A brilliant, amazingly funny chaos... Japanese, No? Japanese, Yes! here:

Topsy-Turvy (making of The Mikado) -- brilliant dialogue!!

"...but unfortunately your avocation as an actor compels you on occasion to endure the most ignominious indignities, as Grossmith will doubtless testify"

"...without question sir..."

Brilliant cast: Allan Corduner, William Neenan, Martin Savage, Jim Broadbent, Kevin McKidd Lesley Manville

Topsy-Turvy IMDB page

Wikipedia entry on this brilliant movie.

The Mikado - Three Little Maids from School

Another clip from Topsy-Turvy, enjoy:

Topsy-Turvy is the story of the creation of the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, "The Mikado." It contains not just the story of the musical's creation but many scenes from Mikado and other G&S musicals. Long-time "G&S" (Gilbert & Sullivan) fans probably found this movie a long time ago. I am one of them, so first I'll say that I found the performance of the G&S material in this movie absolutely superb. I've never seen a Mikado as genuinely funning and eccentric as Tim Sprall's, or a Yum-Yum as winsomely self-centered as Shirley Hendersen's Leonora Branham.

ARTIST: Gilbert and Sullivan
TITLE: Three Little Maids from School


Three little maids from school are we
Pert as a school-girl well can be
Filled to the brim with girlish glee
Three little maids from school

Everything is a source of fun
Nobody's safe, for we care for none
Life is a joke that's just begun
Three little maids from school 

Three little maids who, all unwary
Come from a ladies' seminary
Freed from its genial tutelary
Three little maids from school
Three little maids from school

One little maid is a bride, Yum-Yum
Two little maids in attendance come
Three little maids is the total sum
Three little maids from school
Three little maids from school

From three little maids take one away
Two little maids remain, and they
Won't have to wait very long, they say
Three little maids from school
Three little maids from school

Three little maids who, all unwary
Come from a ladies' seminary
Freed from its genius tutelary
Three little maids from school
Three little maids from school

The Mikado, a clip from the movie Topsy-Turvy (The Criminal Cried as He Dropped Him Down song)

Yes, Opera Lady loves Topsy-Turvy movie. Check Martin Savage in this clip, awesome:

The Moon Song from "Mikado"

The Mikado or, The Town of Titipu is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert, their ninth of fourteen operatic collaborations.

beautiful rendition of the MOON SONG from the Mikado by Shirley Henderson came from Topsy-Turvy , a highly recommended 1999 movie about the creation of The Mikado in 1884 and 1885. It was written and directed by Mike Leigh and stars Allan Corduner as Sir Arthur Sullivan and Jim Broadbent as W. S. Gilbert, along with Timothy Spall and Lesley Manville. The film focuses on the creative conflict between playwright and composer, and the momentous decision that the two men made to continue their partnership, which led to the creation of several more famous Savoy Operas between them.

The Mikado opened on March 14, 1885, in London, where it ran at the Savoy Theatre for 672 performances, which was the second longest run for any work of musical theatre and one of the longest runs of any theatre piece up to that time. Before the end of 1885, it was estimated that, in Europe and America, at least 150 companies were producing the opera. The Mikado remains the most frequently performed Savoy Opera, and it is especially popular with amateur and school productions. The work has been translated into numerous languages and is one of the most frequently played musical theatre pieces in history.

Shirley Henderson stars as Leonora Braham  & Yum-Yum

Groucho Marx in the Mikado or Topsy-Turvy by the great Mike Leigh are a must have!!

Topsy-Turvy is the story of the creation of the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, "The Mikado." It contains not just the story of the musical's creation but many scenes from Mikado and other G&S musicals. Long-time "G&S" (Gilbert & Sullivan) fans probably found this movie a long time ago. I am one of them, so first I'll say that I found the performance of the G&S material in this movie absolutely superb. I've never seen a Mikado as genuinely funning and eccentric as Tim Sprall's, or a Yum-Yum as winsomely self-centered as Shirley Hendersen's Leonora Branham.

Viewers who find musicals simplistic or shallow or generally silly should make an exception in the case of Topsy-Turvy. It is none of those things. In true Mike Leigh fashion, the actors inhabit their characters like second skin. No one is simple or shallow. Nor does Leigh avoid the seamier side of London theatrical life. I particularly liked Jim Broadbent's bitterly comic and misanthropic Gilbert, Martin Savage as the opium-addicted George Grossmith (the 'patter baritone' who rips through Gilbert's rapidfire lyrics like a rap song), and Lucy Manville as Gilbert's long-suffering wife.

Renata Tebaldi signs "Ave Maria" by Bach / Gounod

Written by French Romantic composer Charles Gounod in 1859, his Ave Maria consists of a melody superimposed over the Prelude No. 1 in C major from Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier (BWV 846), composed by J. S. Bach some 137 years earlier. (Gounod adds one bar so as to smooth out a rough change in harmony in the prelude.) Ave Maria Gounod's Ave Maria arranged for piano and cello.

There are many different instrumental arrangements of the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria, including for violin and guitar, string quartet, piano solo, cello, and even trombones. It is often performed in Christian wedding ceremonies. Many pop and opera singers like Renata Tebaldi in have recorded it during the twentieth century.

Great Ms. Tebaldi

Luciano Pavarotti sings Schubert's Ave Maria

"Ave Maria" was originally composed as a setting of a song from Walter Scott's popular epic poem The Lady of the Lake, in the German translation by Adam Storck, and thus forms part of Schubert's "Liederzyklus vom Fräulein vom See". In Scott's poem the character Ellen Douglas, the "Lady" of "the Lake" (Loch Katrine in the Scottish Highlands) has gone with her father to hide in the "Goblin's cave" nearby to avoid drawing the vengeance of the King on their host, the Clan-Alpine chieftain Roderick Dhu, who has been affording them shelter since the King had exiled them. She sings a prayer addressed to the Virgin Mary, calling upon her for help. Ellen is overheard by Roderick Dhu who is higher on the mountain, raising the clan for war.

Luciano Pavarotti:

The opening words and refrain of Ellen's song, namely "Ave Maria" (Latin, "Hail Mary"), may have led to the idea of adapting Schubert's melody as a setting for the full text of the traditional Roman Catholic prayer Ave Maria. The Latin version of the Ave Maria is now so frequently used with Schubert's melody, that it has led to the misconception that he originally wrote the melody as a setting for the Ave Maria.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Symphony No. 25 in G minor

Remember the opening music in Miloš Forman's brilliant biopic movie "Amadeus"?

That's the Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K. 183/173dB that Mozart wrote only two days (!!) after the completion of his Symphony No. 24 (not real historical confirmation source available but this certainly sounds like something Mozart was capable of doing).

Enjoy his divine piece of music:

A great Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart biography could be find if you click here.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dmitri Hvorostovsky: Votre Toast (Toreador Song)

A gorgeous and super talented Croatian - Italian soprano, Vedrana Zerav told me to watch and enjoy Dmitri Hvorostovsky's version of the Toreador Song. Zerav says this is the technique one must admire, so here he is, Dmitri Hvorostovsky:


Sunday, August 9, 2009

ENRICO CARUSO - O Sole Mio and La donna e mobile)

A voice of the century - ENRICO CARUSO!!

Enrico Caruso sang at most of the world's foremost opera houses, including La Scala in Milan, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in London and the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, he is best known for being the leading tenor of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City for 17 consecutive years. His total Met appearances exceeded 800.

Both Caruso's vocal technique and his virile style of singing were without precedent. They combined like no other the best aspects of the 19th-century tradition of elegant bel canto vocalism with the ardent delivery and big, exciting tenor sound demanded by 20th century composers of verismo opera such as Puccini, Leoncavallo, Mascagni and Giordano. Regarded as a good and attentive musician by his colleagues, he was able to invest his interpretations with an exceptional degree of emotional force without becoming lachrymose or 'hammy'. Judging by contemporary reviews of his Met performances he was an enthusiastic and sincere actor, too, if not always a subtle one.

Enrico Caruso sings O sole mio:

In the book "Caruso's Method of Voice Production" by Dr. P. Mario Marafioti wrote: "Caruso was not a tenor, not a baritone, not a basso; he was a singer who had the vocal characteristics of all three combined. He had a voice which did not recognize scholastic, conventional classifications of registers, and ignored all limitations in its range. He sang the words for themselves for their significance feeling and meaning them. Hence the pathos of his voice, and his superb enunciation, which made the audience understand and feel every word he was singing."

Enrico Caruso sings La donna e mobile:

Excerpts from Wikipedia entry on the great Enrico Caruso:

Life and career

Enrico Caruso came from a poor background. He was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church of San Giovanni e Paolo, Naples, on February 26, 1873, having been born in his mother and father's adjoining flat one day earlier. He was called "Errico" in accordance with the Neapolitan dialect and was known affectionately as "Erri" by his family and friends; but he would adopt the more formal Italian version of his given name, "Enrico", for theatrical purposes.

Caruso was the third of seven children born to the same parents and one of only three to survive infancy. There is an often repeated story of Caruso having had 17 or 18 siblings who died in infancy. The biographers Francis Robinson and Pierre Key both included the story but genealogical research conducted by family friend Guido D'Onofrio has suggested it is false. According to Caruso's son Enrico, Jr., Caruso himself and his brother Giovanni may have been the source of the exaggerated number.[5] Caruso's widow Dorothy also included the story in her book about her late husband. She quotes the tenor as follows about his mother, Anna Caruso (nee Baldini): "She had twenty-one children. Twenty boys and one girl -- too many. I am number nineteen boy."

His father, Marcellino Caruso, was a mechanic, and initially his family thought he should follow the same trade. At the age of 11 he was apprenticed to an engineer named Palmieri, who made fountains. (Whenever visiting Naples in future years, he liked to point out a public fountain that he had helped to install when young.) Caruso also worked alongside his father at the Meuricoffre factory. Under the tutelage of a penmanship teacher from his public school, he learned to write in clear, beautiful script and became a skilled draftsman.[7] During this time, he was also singing in church choirs and planned an alternative career in music, which his mother encouraged.

He took singing lessons with Guglielmo Vergine and Vincenzo Lombardi, and performed in cafes and as a street singer to earn much-needed cash. (When he was 18, Caruso used the fees he earned by singing at an Italian resort to buy his first pair of non-secondhand shoes, while his first publicity photograph, taken during this period, depicts him wearing a bedsheet draped like a toga, because his only dress shirt was in the laundry.)

Caruso made his professional debut in serious music on March 15, 1895, at the Teatro Nuovo, Naples, in a now forgotten opera by Domenico Morelli. At an early performance in Naples he was booed by the audience because he ignored the custom of hiring a claque to cheer for him. This incident hurt Caruso's pride. He never appeared again on stage in his native city, stating later that he would return "only to eat spaghetti".

The young tenor worked assiduously to improve his voice production, eliminating a tendency to crack on high notes. He performed in a succession of provincial venues during the second half of the 1890s before graduating to La Scala in December 1900. Non-Italian audiences in Monte Carlo, Warsaw and Buenos Aires also had an opportunity to hear him sing during this youthful phase of his career and, in 1899-1900, he performed in Russia at the Mariinsky theatre in Saint Petersburg and the Bolshoi theatre in Moscow with a visiting troupe of top-class Italian singers.

The first major role that Caruso created was Loris in Giordano's Fedora, at the Teatro Lirico in Milan, on November 17, 1898. At that same theater, on November 6, 1902, he created the role of Maurizio in Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur. (He had also hoped to create the part of Cavaradossi in Puccini's Tosca at the Rome Opera in 1900 but the composer, after deliberating hard, chose an older and more experienced tenor instead.)

Caruso remained at La Scala until 1902. He had yet to turn 30 and his voice was still maturing when, in April of that year, he was engaged by the Gramophone & Typewriter Company to make his first recordings, in a Milan hotel room, for a fee of 100 pounds sterling. These discs helped to spread his fame in the English-speaking world (they would also give a significant commercial boost to the fledgling record industry), and he was able to make a highly successful British debut at London's Royal Opera House on May 14 that same year. He then travelled to New York City to take up a contract with the Metropolitan Opera. (His London operatic season had been followed, incidentally, by a sequence of engagements in Italy, Portugal and South America.)

Caruso's Metropolitan Opera contract was negotiated by his agent, the banker/impresario Pasquale Simonelli. On November 23, 1903, Caruso debuted at the Met as the Duke of Mantua in a new production of Verdi's Rigoletto. A few months later, he began a lifelong association with the Victor Talking-Machine Company. He made his first American discs on February 1, 1904, having signed a lucrative contract with Victor. Thenceforth, his stellar recording career would run in tandem with his equally stellar Met career, the one bolstering the other, until death intervened in 1921.

Caruso purchased the Villa Bellosguardo, a palatial country house near Florence, in 1904. The villa became his retreat away from the pressures of the operatic stage and the grind of travel. Caruso's preferred address in New York City was a suite at Manhattan's Knickerbocker Hotel. (The Knickerbocker was erected in 1906 on the corner of Broadway and 42nd Street.) New York came to mean so much to Caruso, he at one stage commissioned the city's best jewellers, Tiffany & Co., to strike a commemorative medal made out of 24-carat gold. He presented the medal, which was adorned with the tenor's profile, to Simonelli as a souvenir of his many acclaimed performances at the Met.

By no means, however, was Caruso's post-1903 career confined exclusively to New York. He performed often in other American cities and continued to sing widely in Europe, appearing again at Covent Garden in 1904-07 and 1913-14 and also thrilling audiences in France, Belgium, Monaco, Austria and Germany prior to the outbreak of World War One. In 1917 he toured South America and, two years later, gave performances in Mexico City.

In 1906, Caruso and other prominent Met artists came to San Francisco to participate in a series of performances at the Tivoli Opera House. Following his appearance as Don Jose in Carmen, he was awakened at 5:13 a.m. on April 18 in his Palace Hotel suite by a strong jolt. San Francisco had been hit by a major earthquake, which led to a series of fires that destroyed most of the city. The Met lost all of the sets and costumes that it had brought on tour. Clutching an autographed photo of President Theodore Roosevelt as a talisman, Caruso made an effort to flee the city, first by boat and then by train. He vowed never to return to San Francisco; he kept his word.

Caruso became embroiled in a scandal in November 1906, when he was charged with an indecent act committed in the monkey house of New York's Central Park Zoo. Police accused him of pinching the bottom of a woman described by press reporters as being "pretty and plump". Caruso claimed that a monkey did the bottom-pinching. He was found guilty as charged, however, and fined 10 dollars although suspicions linger that he may have been entrapped by the alleged victim and the arresting officer. Members of New York's opera-going high society were outraged initially by the incident, but they soon forgave Caruso and continued to patronise his Met performances.

On December 10, 1910, Caruso starred at the Met as Dick Johnson in the world premiere of Puccini's La fanciulla del West. Puccini had written the music for the principal tenor's role in the opera with Caruso's voice specifically in mind. (He sang opposite two of the Met's other star singers at Fanciulla's premiere: the dramatic soprano Emmy Destinn and the Neapolitan baritone Pasquale Amato.) In 1917, Caruso was elected an honorary member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the national fraternity for men involved in music, by the fraternity's Alpha chapter at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. That same year, America entered World War One. Caruso did useful charity work during the conflict, raising money for war-related patriotic causes by giving concerts and participating in Liberty Bond drives.

Caruso wed in 1918. His 25-year-old bride, Dorothy Park Benjamin, was the product of a respected New York family. They had one daughter, Gloria Caruso (born 1919). Dorothy published two books about Caruso, one in 1928, the other in 1945, which include many of his touching letters to her. Prior to his marriage to Dorothy Benjamin, Caruso had been romantically tied to an Italian soprano, Ada Giachetti, a few years older than he. Though already married, Giachetti bore Caruso four sons during their liaison, which lasted from 1897 to 1908. Two of these offspring survived infancy: Rodolfo Caruso (born 1898) and singer/actor Enrico Caruso, Jr. (1904). Ada had left her husband and an existing son to cohabit with the tenor. Giachetti's relationship with Caruso broke down after 11 years and her subsequent attempts to sue him for damages were dismissed by the courts.

Privately, Caruso was a jovial if somewhat sensitive person who put a lot of hard work into perfecting his art and mastering new roles. He dressed fastidiously, took two baths a day, and liked good food and convivial company. He sketched for relaxation and the quality of his numerous surviving caricatures suggest that he could have made an alternative living as a professional cartoonist. Dorothy Caruso said that by the time she knew him, her husband's favorite hobby was compiling scrapbooks. He also collected postage stamps, coins, antiques and small art objects, taking pleasure in their beauty. Caruso was a heavy smoker of strong Egyptian cigarettes. This deleterious habit, along with a lack of healthy exercise and the punishing schedule of performances that Caruso willingly undertook each season at the Met, may have contributed to his fatal final illness.

Premature death

During September 1920, Caruso recorded several discs for Victor at Camden's Trinity Church, including sacred music by Rossini; these recordings were to be his last. According to Caruso's wife Dorothy, his state of health began a distinct downward spiral in late 1920 while on a lengthy North American tour. He manifested the symptoms of what appeared to be a heavy dose of bronchitis but his condition worsened just before Christmas, and he began experiencing persistent pain in his left side. Caruso's doctor, Philip Horowitz, who usually treated him for migraine headaches using a kind of primitive TENS unit, diagnosed "intercostal neuralgia" and pronounced him fit to appear on stage, although the pain continued to impede his singing.

On December 11, 1920, during a performance of L'elisir d'amore by Donizetti at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, he had suffered a throat haemorrhage and the audience was dismissed at the end of Act 1. Following this incident, a clearly unwell Caruso gave only three more performances at the Met, the final one being in the role of Eléazar in Halévy's La Juive, on Christmas Eve 1920. (Appearing in the cast that night was the Australian-born coloratura soprano, Evelyn Scotney, who had sung with Caruso a number of times before.

Caruso's health deteriorated further during the new year due to what was now diagnosed as purulent pleurisy and empyema. He experienced episodes of intense pain and underwent seven surgical procedures to drain fluid from his chest and lungs.

He returned to Naples to recuperate from the most serious of his operations, during which part of a rib had been removed. According to Mrs Caruso, he seemed to be recovering, but he allowed himself to be examined by an unhygenic local doctor and his condition worsened dramatically after that. [17][18] The Bastianelli brothers, eminent doctors with a clinic in Rome, recommended that his left kidney be removed. He was on his way to Rome when he stopped over and died in the Vesuvio Hotel in Naples, a few minutes after 9:00 a.m. local time, on August 2, 1921. The Bastianellis attributed the most likely cause of death to peritonitis arising from a burst subrenal abscess.

The King of Italy opened the Royal Basilica of the Church of San Francisco di Paola for the funeral, which was attended by thousands of people. His embalmed body was preserved in a glass sarcophagus at Del Pianto Cemetery in Naples for his fans to view. [21] A few years later, however, Mrs. Caruso had his remains sealed permanently in an ornate stone tomb.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Enrico Caruso sings Una furtiva lagrima by Donizetti

Una furtiva lagrima - Romanza, from Act II, Scene 2 of the Italian opera, L'Elisir d'Amore by Gaetano Donizetti

Role : Nemorino, a young peasant in love with Adina
Voice Part : tenor
Fach : tenor leggiero
Setting : The interior of Adina's house in an Italian village, 19th century
Range : F3 to G#/Ab4.
Tessitura : A#/Bb4 to G#/Ab4
Synopsis : Nemorino has just taken a second dose of love potion. Unbeknownst to him, he has just inherited a fortune and when he enters the room, he is flocked by the women in the room. Confident because of his dose of "love potion" (which is really just wine), he ignores them as well as his love Adina. Adina is hurt by this and leaves. Nemorino notices her unhappiness and realizes that she does care for him. He sings of his joy at finding that he is loved by her.

Listen to this digitally remastered version of a recording from the 1st of February 1904 (room 826, Carnegie Hall, NY) by Enrico Caruso:

English Translation:

A sullen and secretive tear
That started there in her eye...
Those socialising bright young things
Seemed to provoke its envy...
What more searching need I do?
She loves me, that I see.
For just one moment the beating
Of her hot pulse could be felt!..
CWith her sighing confounding
Momentarily my sighs!...
Oh God, I shall expire;
I can't ask for more.

Un bel dì, vedremo (translation) by Maria Callas and Renta Tebaldi

Giacomo Puccini and His Madame Butterfly rendered by both Divas!!!, Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi: Un Bel dì Vedremo

Role : Madame Butterfly, a Japanese girl alson known as Cio-Cio-San
Voice Part : soprano
Fach : lyric soprano|spinto
Setting : Butterfly's house
Synopsis : Three years have passed since Butterfly's American husband left her. Her servant Suzuki, tries to convince her that he isn't coming back, but Butterfly is convinced that he will. She sings of the day that he will return. She dreams of him sailing into the harbour and climbing up the hill to meet her

Renata Tebaldi:

Maria Callas:

Un bel dì, vedremo English Translation

One good day, we will see
Arising a strand of smoke
Over the far horizon on the sea
And then the ship appears
And then the ship is white
It enters into the port, it rumbles its salute
Do you see it? He is coming!
I don't go down to meet him, not I.
I stay upon the edge of the hill
And I wait a long time
but I do not grow weary of the long wait
A man, a little speck
Climbing the hill.
Who is it? Who is it?
And as he arrives
What will he say? What will he say?
He will call Butterfly from the distance
I without answering
Stay hidden
A little to tease him,
A little as to not die.
At the first meeting,
And then a little troubled
He will call, he will call
"Little one, dear wife
Blossom of orange"
The names he called me at his last coming.
All this will happen,
I promise you this
Hold back your fears -
I with secure faith wait for him.