Friday, August 27, 2010

Giulietta! son io!

I feel that I ought to add a category similar to Really Shameful Confessions in cataloging my opera obsession: Really Exciting Discoveries.  This week I made another one!  Und zwar, a tenor aria previously unknown to me, the impassioned "Giulietta! son io!" from Riccardo Zandonai's Giulietta e Romeo.  The NYPL has no circulating copies of this opera, I can't find its libretto online, and so I am left with only this tantalizing excerpt.  This itself seems to be fairly rarely recorded, although Alagna has a rendition on a recital album, and it's set to be on the forthcoming verismo album of everyone's favorite German tenor.. A comparative proliferation of YouTube videos tempts me to the inference that it may have been a favored show piece of Mario del Monaco.  Thanks to operabathosa, here is a 1956 rendition (embedding disabled).  And I am addicted to it.  (As if there were any doubt as to my sentimental susceptibility...)

Mario del Monaco himself was one of the Really Exciting Discoveries to which I was guided in the earliest stages of my exploring opera.  Somewhere in Lucca, there is a potter's shop with the complete text of La Divina Commedia in tiny print on a large wall, and a huge collection of Puccini LPs in the back room.  And five years ago in this shop, while my mother admired dishes, I asked, in my halting Italian, who the tenor was on the recording which the proprietor was playing at splendid volume.  "Ah!" said he, putting down his paintbrush.  "Guess!"  My failed attempts were greeted with tongue-clucking disapproval, but the enthusiast eventually took pity on my floundering and enlightened me, in both our languages, as to who Mario del Monaco was ("uno dei più grandi!")  This explanation went on so long that I asked nervously if I was keeping my interlocutor from his work.  This suggestion was greeted with an expansively dismissive hand gesture.  "This," said the potter, "may be my work, but Puccini is my mission."  Someday I hope to return to that shop, and buy one of those beautiful dishes, and more importantly, sit down and thank that man, and have a really good conversation about Puccini.

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