Notes

Deutche Grammaphon | Double CD Liner notes

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CD I

Track 1. At the Metropolitan Opera, Domingo was the first of many to sing Calaf in Franco Zeffirelli's famously spectacular production of Puccini's Turandot. When Calaf sings "Nessun dorma (No One Sleeps)" at the beginning of Act III, he has already won the chilly hand of Turandot—unless she is able to discover his true identity by the morrow. He resolves to relieve the anguish of Turandot's subjects, and be victorious. Incidentally, this is the aria that made of the "old" cult of the Tenor a "new" phenomenon for the '90's . . .

Track 2. "Largo al factotum," the barber's self-introduction in Rossini's Barbiere di Siviglia, is
one of the most famous arias in the operatic literature—for baritone! Domingo's distinctive tenor voice is plush with dark sonorities 
 . . .

A Playbill program note for New York City Opera

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A GOOD MAD SCENE makes the gut flutter, fixes the gaze—we can’t turn away from it. The afflicted one becomes oblivious, and that sad oblivion distances us, protecting everyone. Lunacy becomes an invisible "fourth wall," that allows us to take in our voyeuristic fill, as we do in the darkened theater. It allows us access to veiled and dangerous regions—regions of emotion and behavior, strange and yet piercingly familiar. Access which we indulge unapologetically, never quite feeling that our fixed stare desecrates a private suffering. We witness it, whether it’s shock-talk TV, a stranger’s public meltdown, or a lunatic scena set to sky-high coloratura (the fast, florid, sometimes improvisational singing executed by skilled singers of every vocal range). We are riveted by madness. Despite all we know, by instinct or experience, about its terrible human toll, one fact persists: Madness makes great theater.

          The Romantics of the nineteenth century understood this. In the bel canto style of Italian opera, the mad scene (along with scenes of murder and suicide) was common currency. . .

A Program Note for New York City Opera

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EVEN AGAINST the brilliant constellation of philosophers who lit up the French Enlightenment, Voltaire’s audacity dazzled, and Candide is his masterpiece.

          . . .Though skinny and sickly, Voltaire’s disposition was ebullient. His tastes were expensive, the company he kept, royal—though his ticket into society’s upper tier was only himself, for in an age of patronage, an artist without pedigree was technically a servant. . . Voltaire was over sixty by the time he wrote Candide, wherein he gaily decries medieval superstition, and challenges the institutions that exploit superstition to tyrannize the undefended. Voltaire called his satire, Candide; ou L'optimisme, traduit de l'Allemand, de M. le Docteur Ralph (Candide; or the Optimist, translated from the German by Herr Doktor Ralph). The subtitle is the key . . .

A Playbill program note for La Fanciulla del Ouest, by Giaccomo Puccini

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IS  PUCCINI'S La fanciulla del Ouest the ultimate Spaghetti Western? Is its heroine Minnie Falcon the American frontier Valkyrie? No less an observer than composer Igor Stravinsky called Fanciulla "...a horse opera, extraordinarily right for television, with a Marshall Dillon and professional Indians . . .

          . . . By any measure, Puccini's opera nails more truths about 1849 California than do many certified legends of the West. And no wonder. Puccini's source was David Belasco—California son of a sometime gold miner, child actor on the mining camp theater circuit. What's more . . .

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