Ho cantato il primo concerto ieri sera a Piobbico. I sang my first concert last night in Piobbico.
It was wonderful! We performed outside in the courtyard of the Castle Brancaleoni, which created an intimate and fairytale-like atmosphere.
The evening started with a cute and entertaining chorus scene from Act II of L’elisir d’amore by Donizetti. In this scene Giannetta gathers around all of her girlfriends to share the exciting news that Nemorino has just received a very large inheritance. Giannetta and the girls become excited thinking of how they might benefit in some way from this. Each of them begins to dream of how he might choose them to be his love. Giannetta continuously tells the girls to be quiet so as not to let anyone know of this new secret. Next Nemorino enters the scene, unaware of the ladies. He is drinking from a bottle of wine, which he believes is a love potion (an elixir of love). He’s been told that by drinking this potion, all women will adore him. The ladies see Nemorino and begin to get excited. They rush to him and begin to gawk & flirt. Nemorino believes that the love potion must be working, however he is unaware of the fact that the ladies are pursuing him because of his inheritance. Soon afterwards, Nemorino’s true love, Adina, enters the scene. She observes the women with Nemorino and becomes very jealous. We also see the entrance of Dulcamara, the doctor who gave Nemorino the love potion. He is astonished at the apparent success of his concoction. The scene builds as each character expresses their joys, frustrations and wonders and ends with a grand exit of Nemorino and the ladies.
Next I sang the Sextet from Act III of Don Giovanni by Mozart and I ended the evening singing all of Act III from La Bohème, by Puccini. This was the climax of the night for me. I have fallen head-over-heels in love with La Bohème. The music is brilliantly written and is glorious both for the singer and the audience. My character, Mimi, has been up all night – anxious – wanting to speak with Marcelo. Marcelo is sort of like a big brother to Mimi and is the close friend of Mimi’s love, Rodolfo. Mimi is in deep pain and anguish over her relationship with Rodolfo and she cannot contain it anymore. She cries out to Marcelo for help. She explains, maybe for the first time out loud, how Rodolfo has been acting very strange. He has developed a very serious jealous spirit. Even when someone simply passes by or speaks a word to Mimi, Rodolfo assumes the worst – that Mimi is somehow untrue to him. She continues telling Marcelo how Rodolfo even watches her sleep and has said to her you are not for me. She does not understand why her soul mate and the true love of her life is behaving in this way. She acknowledges that she and Rodolfo must part and begs Marcelo to help her. Meanwhile, Rodolfo is searching for Marcelo and begins to come outside where Mimi and Marcelo and speaking. Mimi hides and Marcelo and Rodolfo speak. Rodolfo tells Marcelo of his anguish over his broken relationship with Mimi and though he tries to say that it is about jealousy, he confesses that it is actually because Mimi is dying. Rodolfo has known for a while that Mimi has a terrible cough and will not live long and in a sense of denial and mourning – he drives her away so as to avoid the pain of losing her to death. Rodolfo does not realize it but Mimi is listening to this entire conversation. Up until this time, Mimi did not know that she was dying. She becomes grief stricken over her own life and breaks down crying. Her crying exposes her presence and Rodolfo runs to comfort her. However, she begins to say goodbye. At this time, she sings her famous and glorious aria “Donde Lieta.” She tells Rodolfo she is leaving and asks him to gather her things from his home so she can have someone retrieve them. As she lists the items, she begins thinking of the beautiful bonnet that he bought her and her heart begins to swell. She tries to be strong and leave however he stops her. While they know they must part, they sing of their love and seek to hold onto each other for a little while longer. Marcelo has come back in with his lover, Musetta and their counter duet creates a sense of rhythmical and emotional contrast to that of Rodolfo and Mimi. The four sing what has to be some of the most glorious music ever written and then Musetta and Marcelo exit. The act ends with Rodolfo and Mimi singing their love duet and trying to hold on to one more day together before they know they must part forever.
Puccini and Bohème are simply magical. When I was outside in the courtyard of the castle singing – it was like a dream. As I have written about in the past, there is always the temptation as a performer to simply judge yourself all the time and focus solely on technical accuracies and the like, never entering into the passion and heart of the music. However I made the choice yesterday, as we all can, to let all of that go and just be Mimi and sing. I did not want it to end. And consequently, I felt the scene went very well because all of us just poured out our hearts.
Overall I felt the evening was a tremendous success. The people of Piobbico seemed happy with us and I think each of us were thrilled to have been given the glorious privilege we had of singing under such phenomenal circumstances. What a gift and what a joy!