Music for a Monday: Je Veux Vivre (Gounod)

I seem to be in a French mood at the moment (but then, look what happens when I go into German).  Actually this is mostly because I’m looking for repertoire for my next exam, and thought it might be fun to do a little set of Shakespeare-themed songs (I already have Fear no more the heat o’the sun on my list).  This one might be a little high for me (it goes to a D, and while I got to a D flat comfortably for my last exam, I don’t know that my voice goes higher than that reliably – certainly not for so long).

But that doesn’t matter for Monday music.  I’m sharing this one basically because it is really, really cute.

This is taken from Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, and it’s actually filmed in Verona and on a balcony, which really is priceless, even if the singing wasn’t amazing.  Though the random blonde is a bit disconcerting.  Also, technically, the balcony (while gorgeous) shouldn’t be there for this scene, as it occurs before the ball.  But if one is trying to be iconically Romeo and Juliettish, a balcony in Verona is clearly the way to go.  And Rocío Ignacio’s voice is just lovely, and suits this piece beautifully.

Something about this waltz reminds me a lot of Sempre Libera (not the start, but once you get about 3 minutes in, you’ll see what I mean), which was written by Verdi about a decade earlier.  This isn’t in any way a complaint, incidentally – I think they are both gorgeous pieces of music.

Here’s another version of Je Veux Vivre, this one sung by Jane Powell, and obviously completely out of context, though I have no idea what the context actually is.  I really enjoy the light purity of Jane Powell’s voice – she’s a very precise singer, and one I really enjoy listening to, though her French accent is fairly awful.

If you’d like to see a version of this actually in context, here’s a recording by Angela Gheorghiu that should do the trick.  And if you prefer your Shakespearean opera with cross-dressing – and really, who doesn’t –  here’s Elina Garanca as Romeo Bellini’s version of the opera (really, everyone did a version of Romeo and Juliet, and none of them stuck to the plot – in this song, Romeo is disguised as a messenger, offering Lord Capulet Romeo’s hand in marriage for Juliet, as a replacement son after the death of Tybalt…).  How gorgeous are her low notes?  And her high notes, for that matter…

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Friday Fun: Glitter and be Gay (Bernstein)

I had no idea until recently that Bernstein had written an opera based on Voltaire’s Candide.  Cunegonde’s aria, Glitter and Be Gay, is the only piece from it that I have heard so far, and it’s absolutely brilliant fun.

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Friday Fun: Ah, C’est Ainsi (Orphée aux Enfers – Offenbach)

This is the opera which introduced me to Natalie Dessay, and her amazing combination of comic acting and brilliant coloratura singing.  Offenbach’s version of Orpheus in the Underworld is a complete parody both of the original myth and of Monteverdi’s opera of Orpheus – he even uses musical signatures from Monteverdi when Orpheus is requesting Eurydice back from Jupiter on Mount Olympus.

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Friday Fun: Les oiseaux dans la charmille (The Doll Aria) – Offenbach

Time for a final fling with opera before we plunge into Advent and my annual Advent Calendar for the next few weeks!  Today’s aria is a favourite of mine, because you can do so much with it, and because it contains so much potential for humour, pathos, and creepiness.  This version contains all three of those aspects…

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Monday Music: O Zittre Nicht (Mozart – Magic Flute)

I was going to rain down death, despair and the vengeance of hell, soprano style, on you today, but that seemed like a bit much for a Monday morning.    Instead, I’m going to give you the Queen of the Night’s other aria, in which she persuades and even seduces the young and extremely persuadable tenor, Tamino, to her cause.  You can always go hunting for hell’s boiling vengeance later.

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Advent Calendar Day 18 – Ave Maria (Rombi)

After yesterday’s fairly boisterous Australian carol, I wanted a contrast – something very classical and beautiful.  Also, I’ve been itching for an excuse to include Natalie Dessay’s voice somewhere in this.  Ave Maria isn’t, of course, really an Advent Carol, but once again I’m claiming all Mary music as Advent appropriate.

Besides, it’s Natalie Dessay sounding absolutely angelic.  Do I really need to justify that?

(and now I’d better go and practice sounding angelic myself, since we have our carol service tonight…)