L'Opera Lirica Italiana
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Claudia's Italian Opera Jukebox  
Track 1.   O mio babbino caro. (Oh my dear daddy.)
This aria is from the short opera  called Gianni Schicchi.  It was composed by Giacomo Puccini and was first performed in New York on 14 December 1918.   The story is based on an episode in Dante's Inferno. 
(To read about the Italian writer Dante, click HERE.) 

The story of Gianni Schicchi takes place in Florence.

This aria is sung by a girl called Lauretta. 
She is in love with Rinuccio.  They want to get married.  Her father is Gianni Schicchi.  In this aria, she is pleading with her father to give his permission for them to get married.   She sings that if he does not give his permission then she will jump off the bridge called Il Ponte Vecchio and into the river that runs through the city of Florence -the River Arno.
(To read about this bridge, click HERE.)

To listen to Lauretta singing O mio babbino caro, click on the button below and go to TRACK 1.

(Sung by soprano, Angela Gheorghiu)
(A message from Claudia:  All you need is love.)

Track 2   La donna è mobile (Ladies are unreliable).
This aria is sung by tenor Luciano Pavarotti.  It is from the opera Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi.  It was first shown in Venice in 1850. 
To read about the composer Verdi click HERE.

Rigoletto is a court jester.  His job is to make everyone laugh.  He works for the selfish Duke of Mantua.  The selfish Duke thinks that he can do anything that he likes! 

The Duke sings this aria because he thinks that men are cleverer than ladies and that men should not take ladies very seriously!  In other words, he thinks that ladies are a bit silly and unreliable! 
To hear the Duke singing his aria about his opinion of ladies, click on the button below and listen to TRACK 2.

(A note from Claudia:- because I am a girl, this aria makes me feel rather angry and insulted!  How dare the Duke think that ladies are silly and unreliable!  Girls are great!)

Track 3  Recitar! Vesti la giubba. ( Perform!  Wear the costume.)
This aria is from the short opera Pagliacci and is sung by a circus clown called Canio.  The word pagliaccio means 'clown.'
Canio is sad because he has just discovered that his beautiful wife, Nedda, has fallen in love with another man. 
Even though he is crying with sadness, Canio decides that the show must go on.  So, he forces himself to get ready to perform in the circus and he puts on his clown costume.  As he gets ready, he sings this sad aria.

Pagliacci is an opera in two acts and was composed by Ruggero Leoncavallo. It was first performed in 1892.

To hear Canio the clown singing his sad aria click on the button below and listen to TRACK 3.

This aria is sung by Luciano Pavarotti. 
(A note from Claudia:- I feel very sorry for Canio the clown. The sound of this aria makes me feel very sad.)

Track 4   Ave Maria  (Hail Mary)
Although this is not opera, I thought I would include it on my jukebox because it is very peaceful.  It is the prayer Hail Mary, sung in Latin by the Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti
Modern Italian comes from Latin.

The music of Ave Maria was composed by Franz Schubert in 1825.
Click on the button and go to TRACK 4.

Track 5   Coro a bocca chiusa.  (The Humming Chorus.)
The opera Madama Butterfly was composed by Giacomo Puccini and was first performed in 1904 at Il Teatro alla Scala in Milan.  The story is based in Nagasaki, Japan and is probably based on a true story.
Madama Butterfly is the main character.  She is a Japanese lady.

The Coro a bocca chiusa  actually means 'chorus with mouths closed.'  A group of ladies are humming the music.  It is night time and the atmosphere is very tranquil.  Madama Butterfly's baby is rocked to sleep.   The music is like a lullaby and the ladies are like spirits of the night.

To listen to The Humming Chorus go to TRACK 5.

(A note from Claudia: - this tune makes me very relaxed and sleepy.  Buonanotte!)

Track 6  O soave fanciulla.  (O sweet maiden,)
This aria is from Puccini's opera La Bohème.  It was first performed in Turin in 1896.  The title of the opera means 'Bohemia.'  The story takes place in Paris.  It is a bitterly cold winter and the characters Rodolfo and Mimi are very poor.  They have not enough money to eat properly or to keep warm.   Rodolfo is a poet and Mimi lives next door.  She sews and makes cloth flowers.

Rodolfo is singing to Mimi because he has just realised that he has fallen in love with her.  Mimi also sings in this aria.  She too has realised that she loves Rodolfo.

To listen to this duet sung by Rodolfo and Mimi, click on the button and go to TRACK 6

(Sung by Giuseppe di Stefano and Maria Callas)
(A note from Claudia:  this aria makes me both happy and sad.  I'm happy that they love each other but I'm sad because they are so poor.)

Track 7.  Nessun dorma!  (Nobody go to sleep!)
This aria is from the opera Turandot, by Giacomo Puccini.  It was first performed at Il Teatro alla Scala in Milan in 1925.

Turandot is a beautiful princess.  She lives in Peking, China.

This aria is sung by Prince Calaf.  He wants to marry the princess.  Her father has agreed to the marriage but she is not happy.  She doesn't even know the Prince's name!

Prince Calaf gives the princess an opportunity to get out of the marriage!  If she discovers his name before dawn then he will agree to let her go free.
So, the princess Turandot declares that nobody should go to sleep that night because her servants must rush around the town, asking for everyone's help to find out the name of the mysterious prince.
If you want to hear the Prince singing an aria about how he is sure he will win because nobody will be able to find out his name, then click on the button below and go to TRACK 7.
If you would like to sing along click HERE for the words.

(Sung by Luciano Pavarotti.)
(A note from Claudia:  the prince sounds very strong and powerful.  He is so loud at the end of the aria that I even have to cover my ears.  I have a feeling that he
just might win.)

Track 8. Un bel di vedremo... (One beautiful day we will see...)
This aria is from Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly.
You are probably wondering what it is that "we will see."  Well, this aria is sung by Madama Butterfly.  She is Japanese.  Here is the story.... 

She married an American Navy Lieutenant who had sailed to Japan.  Madama Butterfly loves her new husband very much but he does not take their marriage very seriously.
He sails back to America, and Madama Butterfly is left sad and lonely in Japan.  Three years go by and still he has not returned.  During this time, Madama Butterfly gives birth to their baby son.
And here is the terrible thing:- she does not know that her husband is now engaged to an American lady and that he plans to marry her, abandoning Madama Butterfly!

When she sings this aria, she is looking at the sea and hoping that one beautiful day she will see her husband's ship on the horizon.  She does not know if he will ever return, but she lives in hope.
Click on the button below and go to Track 8 to hear Madama Butterfly singing whilst she looks out to the sea, hoping to spot her husband's ship.

(Sung by the greatest soprano of all time - Maria Callas.)

(A note from Claudia:   Poor Madama Butterfly!  I don't like her husband.  Who knows if he will ever return?  How dare he behave like that when she really loves him!  He makes me feel angry and Madama Butterfly makes me feel sad.)
Track 9.  E lucevan le stelle.  (And the stars were shining.)
This aria belongs to the opera Tosca, by Giacomo Puccini.  It was first performed in Rome in 1899. 
The story takes place in Rome.  'Tosca' is the name of the leading lady in the story.

This aria is sung by the character called Mario Cavaradossi.  He is an artist and in love with Tosca.  But, a powerful man called Baron Scarpia is also in love with Tosca, so he imprisons the artist in the prison called Castel Sant'Angelo
(To read a ghost story about Castel Sant'Angelo,
click HERE.)

The poor artist is told that he will be executed in the morning.  Whilst he is imprisoned on the top floor of the Castel Sant' Angelo, he looks up at the night sky.  He sees the shining stars and he sings this famous and powerful aria of farewell to the world and to Tosca, the woman he loves.
To hear the aria, click on Track 9.

(Claudia says:- I think that the music is slow and the artist sounds very serious when he sings.  I also think that his voice trembles as if he is scared and crying.  Poor artist!  You can tell that he thinks something terrible is going to happen.)
Track 10. Libiamo ne' lieti calici.  (Let's drink from the merry chalices.)
This famous aria is a duet sung by Violetta and Alfredo. 
It is from the opera La Traviata  by Giuseppe Verdi.  (To read about the Italian composer Verdi, click HERE.)

This aria sounds very happy because it is sung at a party and it is at a moment when everyone is raising their glass to drink a toast of wine. 
The two singers, Violetta and Alfredo are in love.

The very first performance of this opera was in Venice at
La Fenice
theatre in 1853.
To hear the aria sung by Alfredo and Violetta, click on the button and go to Track 10.

(The part of Alfredo is sung by tenor Mario Lanza)
(Claudia says: - you can tell that Violetta and Alfredo are happy and in love.  The music is very happy and uplifting.  The sound of this aria cheers me up.)

Track 11.

For Claudia's Opera Advice Page, click HERE.