Good afternoon, dilettantes! I hope all of you had a fun and safe Halloween and are looking forward to this month of November, as we prepare for the holidays, eat lots of tasty foods, and give thanks for the wonderful things in our life.
To kick things off, we’re saying adieu to opera-comique with a nod to a French opera composed by an Italian guy- Donizetti’s La fille du regiment. Unlike Carmen and Manon, this work actually ends happily, as lovers are reunited, families tied together, and nobody ends up dead. Though predictably the leading lady (Marie) is a soprano, what I find interesting about La fille du regiment is that it actually features a principal role for a contralto- the Marquise. Without giving too much away, I’ll say that I rather like her- she is a dynamic character with a secret that only gets revealed when she takes Marie under her wing. But that’s not the only interesting thing about the characters of this opera.
Perhaps the work is most widely known for an aria belonging to the lead tenor- “Ah, mes amis, quel jour de fete!” Why, you ask? Because it requires the performer to hit nine high Cs. That’s right, NINE. Therefore, it only makes sense that the piece was a staple of the late great “King of the High Cs,” Luciano Pavarotti. Hearing Pavarotti sing the last section of this aria was one of my first exposures to a great tenor; I marveled at that spectacular capability of the human voice.
And now it’s time to move onto the theme for the month of November…MGM musical films! The classic movie musicals of MGM are so timeless that they are still aired and watched by scores of people today. They featured big stars, jaw-dropping dance sequences, and music that has become part of the Great American Songbook. Some of the movies have even found a life onstage through adaptation. Also- if you haven’t already noticed, there is a new link on our site to The Fanciullas- our own awards ballot for classical music. It will mainly serve as a way for me to get feedback on what’s most popular on Puccini’s Chronicles, so I encourage you to fill out the survey.
Thank you in advance, and with that, I leave you with Pavarotti’s performance of the tenor showstopper from La fille du regiment.