Even people who don’t know much about opera — in other words, most of us — likely will recognize the ”Largo al factotum” aria from Gioacchino Antonio Rossini’s ”The Barber of Seville.” Here is the start of the opera’s Wikipedia entry:
The Barber of Seville, or The Futile Precaution (Italian: Il barbiere di Siviglia, ossia L’inutile precauzione) is an opera buffa in two acts by Gioachino Rossini with an Italian libretto by Cesare Sterbini. The libretto was based on Pierre Beaumarchais’s French comedy Le Barbier de Séville (1775). The première of Rossini’s opera (under the title Almaviva, o sia L’inutile precauzione) took place on 20 February 1816 at the Teatro Argentina, Rome. (Continue Reading…)
Here is the synopsis and the paragraph of NNDB’s profile of Rossini that touches on the opera. the whole profile is worth reading.
In Almaviva, produced in the beginning of the next year in Rome, the libretto, a version of Pierre Beaumarchais‘ Barbier de Seville by Sterbini, was the same as that already used by Paisiello in his Barbiere, an opera which had enjoyed European popularity for more than a quarter of a century. The indignation of Paisiello’s admirers expressed itself strongly on the production of the new setting, but in the thirteen days devoted to the composition of his Almaviva, Rossini had created such a masterpiece of musical comedy that the fame of Paisiello’s opera was transferred to his, to which the title of Il Barbiere di Siviglia passed as an inalienable heritage. (Continue Reading…)
Above, Kent Nagano conducts The SummerFest Chamber Orchestra in the opera’s overture last year. The video originally was offered by The University of California’s UCSD-TV. Below is “Largo al factotum,” which translates to “make way for the factorum.” Most people will recognize the melody and the line “Figaro! Figaro! Figaro!” Gino Quillico sung it at the Schwetzingen Festival, though the link is unclear on the year of the performance. I may have some of these details wrong about these two videos.
James Gandolfini is not the only soprano with a reputation. At least Kathleen Battle’s website likes her:
Soprano Kathleen Battle’s luminous voice has been called “…without qualification, one of the very few most beautiful in the world” (The Washington Post). Yet beyond the glory of her singing, in a career filled with countless accolades, honors and major milestones, what has perhaps distinguished her most is her almost magical ability to create an unwavering emotional bond between herself, her music and her audience. (Continue Reading…)
The Encyclopedia Britannica provides the facts:
As a child and young adult Battle was both a good student and a good singer. She was awarded a scholarship to the University of Cincinnati College–Conservatory of Music in Ohio, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education. While teaching, she continued to study voice privately; when Thomas Schippers (then conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra) heard her sing, he hired her to perform at the 1972 Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. (Continue Reading…)
Above is Swing Low, Sweet Chariot and below is Vilja-Lied, which is from The Merry Widow by Franz Lehár.
Here is Verdi’s bio:
Giuseppe Verdi was to opera in the Italian tradition what Beethoven was to the symphony. When he arrived on the scene some had suggested that effective opera after Rossini was not possible. Verdi, however, took the form to new heights of drama and musical expression. Partisans see him as at least the equal of Wagner, even though his style and musical persona were of an entirely different cast. In the end, both Verdi’s popular vein—as heard in the operas Rigoletto, Il trovatore, and La traviata—and his deeper side—found in Aida, Otello, and Falstaff—demonstrate his mastery and far-reaching development of Italian opera. Continue Reading…
And, from the same site, his a listing of his essential work.
Above is The Triumphal March from Aida. According to the notes, it was performed by 476 singers and 60 musicians at Lund International Choral Festival 2010. Roger Andersson conducted. Computer-generated deserts perform part of La Traviata below. It sounds familiar. If anyone knows the precise movement, please let me know. Here is the story of Aida and La Traviata.
The great tenor sings Ave Maria.
Pavarotti was born in 1935. We had some fun with a Pavarotti/Spice Girls collaboration a while back. The truth is that he often performed with popular performers. Here he teams with James Brown on Its a Man’s World.
Opera is a complex and demanding form of music. It makes no sense for an individual who doesn’t really understand it to offer commentary or opinions. It would be like somebody who has never cared about rock and roll pontificating on the difference between a great guitar player and a hack. It’s easy for a person who has lived with that form of music. To somebody who hasn’t, it’s not.
It’s a major form of music that can’t be ignored by a site such as this. That said, the only indicator I have of a singer’s quality is what others say and write. Callas seems to be at the top of the list.
The Spice Girls made their debut on this day in 1996 on the British show Top of the Pops.
Above they sing Viva Forever with Hairy Spice, who also was known as Luciano Pavarotti. He seems vaguely confused by the whole thing. It looks like he’s thinking, “I’m supposed to be doing a concert. What are these pretty women doing on stage?” At about the 1:30 mark, Pavarotti apparently decides to sing an entirely different song than the girls.