Sunday, May 1, 2011

THE FIRST SOPRANO SUNDAY IN MAY - "In questa reggia" from Puccini's Turandot.

An interesting poster of Turandot: the drowsy opium eyes are typical of orientalist typecasting at the turn of the century.

This is my favorite version of this aria. Sung by the powerful Maria Callas. There is partly a sentimental reason for that. It was my first introduction to both Turandot and Maria Callas at the Lakewood Public Library. The picture on the cover was love at first sight!

This is a very interesting version of Turandot. The princess almost looks doll-like in appearance. The background is incredibly surreal. Gwyneth Jones gives a spectacular performance here!

Some people say that the Wagnerian soprano Birgit Nilsson was the best Turandot ever. Well, I just may agree, even though the Maria Callas version will always be close to my heart for sentimental reasons. Birgit Nilsson gives a stunning performance here with Franco Corelli.

Other people assert that there is no greater Turandot than Dame Eva Turner. So many opinions! I dare say, that I might be convinced. Her voice is perfect for that role, icy, yet vulnerable. That high C she hits chills me to the bone as much as the Prince of Persia facing the block!

Turandot's Aria in Italian
Visit the Metropolitan Opera Site for an analysis of Turandot's problem as expressed in this aria. She does not come into the opera until this pivotal scene.

In questa reggia, or son mill'anni e mille
Un grido disperato risonò.
E quel grido, traverso stirpe e stirpe,
Qui nell’anima mia si rifugiò!
Principessa Lo-u-Ling

Ava dolce e serena che regnavi
Nel tuo cupo silenzio in gioia pura,
E sfidasti inflessibile e sicura,
(L’aspro dominio,
Oggi rivivi in me!)
Fu quando il Re dei Tartari

Le sette sue bandiere dispiegò.
Pure nel tempo che ciascun ricorda,
Fu sgomento e terrore e rombo d’armi.
Il regno vinto! Il regno vinto!
E Lo-u-Ling, la mia ava, trascinata
Da un uom come te, come te,
Straniero, là nella notte atroce
Dove si spense la sua fresca voce!
(Da secoli ella dorme
Nella sua tomba enorme.)
O Principi, che a lunghe carovane
D’ogni parte del mondo
Qui venite a gettar la vostra sorte,
Io vendico su voi, su voi
Quella purezza, quel grido e quella morte!
Mai nessun m’avrà!
L’orror di chi l’uccise vivo nel cuor mi sta.
No, no! Mai nessun m’avrà!
Ah, rinasce in me l’orgoglio
Di tanta purità! Straniero!
Non tentar la fortuna!

Gli enigmi sono tre, la morte una!


In this palace, thousands of years ago,
A desperate cry rang out.
And that cry, passing down the generations
Found refuge here in my soul!
Princess Lo-u-Ling,
Sweet and serene ancestress, you who reigned
In your deep silence in pure joy
And defied, unyielding and confident,
The harsh domination (of men),
Today you live again in me!
(It was when the King of the Tartars
Unfurled his seven banners)
And yet in the time that everyone remembers,
There was dismay and terror and the roar of arms.
The kingdom was conquered!
And Lo-u-Ling, my ancestress, dragged away
By a man like you, like you,
Stranger, there in the terrible night
Where her young voice was stifled!
(For ages she has slept in her vast tomb.)
O Princes, who in long caravans
From every part of the world
Come here to try your fortune,
I avenge upon you, upon you
That purity, that cry and that death!
No man will ever possess me!
Horror of the man who killed her
Remains alive in my heart.
No, no!
No man will ever possess me!
Ah, in me is reborn the pride
Of such great chastity!
Do not tempt fortune!
The riddles are three, death is one.

This concludes our Soprano Sunday.


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