Glenn’s Trumpet Notes

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Posts Tagged ‘Puccini’

“An Evening with Chris Botti”

Posted by glennled on March 14, 2022

He came here so I had to go–Chris Botti, Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, Seattle, 11 January 2022, 7:30 p.m. At the entry, they checked my Covid vaccination and booster credentials, and I found my Table 160 (partially obstructed view), $106.50. Halfway into the show, they let me move to an empty table with a perfect view. Bought my favorite cocktail, a “Stinger on the Rocks,” and sipped it all night.

Great show! What Botti can do with his horn is amazing–the variety of sounds, the accuracy of intonation and articulation in all ranges, the styles of music! I never saw him change horns or mouthpieces. And I was impressed with how he sometimes stepped aside into the shadows and featured every member of his troupe, including his five guest performers. I did not recognize most pieces, but I did know “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “When I Fall in Love,” “You Don’t Know Lovin’,” “Blue in Green” (Miles Davis), “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “There Will Never Be Another You,” “Time to Say Goodbye,” and Puccini’s aria, “Nessun Dorma” from his opera, Turandot.

Botti’s quintet consists of trumpet, piano/keyboard, bass, guitar, and drums. His five guest performers were Lucia Micarelli, violinist; Sy Smith, female vocalist; Chad LB (Lefkowitz-Brown), tenor saxophonist; Jonathan Johnson, tenor vocalist; and Veronica Swift, female vocalist.

What a great treat it is to hear great performers! Do it.

Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

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Surprise Response to Puccini’s “La Boheme” at Seattle Opera

Posted by glennled on March 5, 2013

blog_poster_bohemeWhat does it mean when you cry in Act I of Puccini’s opera, La Boheme, and not when Mimi dies at the end of Act IV? Well, it must have a little to do with the fact that this is the second time my wife and I have seen La Boheme at the Seattle Opera. And it must have a lot to do with the singers and the music itself—there are a couple of outstandingly beautiful arias and a duet in Act I, sung by the lead soprano (Jennifer Black) and tenor (Michael Fabiano) when we attended on 24 February. And finally, it must have something to do with me, myself, and I.

Two trumpeters lead the parade by Cafe Momus in Act II. Photo by Elise Bakketun.

Two trumpeters lead the parade by Cafe Momus in Act II. Photo by Elise Bakketun.

In Act I, young Mimi and Rodolfo fall in love. Mimi is a seamstress and courtesan, and Rodolfo is a poor poet, living in the same cheap apartment house in Paris. She is ill, but their love is strong. Their future brims with hope and promise. Who does not remember an intense, dreamy, romantic love in one’s youth? A tear sneaks down from the corner of my right eye.

They nearly break up in Act III. and then in the climax of Act IV, Mimi passes away after a long bout with consumption. Rodolfo is the last in the room to realize that she is dead. And out in seat E-2, a pair of dry eyes watch. Whazat? Most people cry in all the right places. Not me, not this time. Surprise.

Love is born—tears. Love is lost—no tears. I’ve seen it before—I know this love will die. But we never let tragic love stories, beautifully told, die. This great opera should always remain one of the world’s most popular. It premiered 117 years ago at Teatro Regio in Turin, northern Italy on 1 February 1896. The opera is “about young people caught in a difficult economic situation in desperate and conflicted love,” writes Speight Jenkins, General Director of the Seattle Opera. “There is no opera that so immediately speaks to everyone’s youth, even to those very young.”

Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

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“Madama Butterfly” by Giacomo Puccini at Seattle Opera

Posted by glennled on May 31, 2012

Cio-Cio-San

“No more Puccini!” I told my wife after the Seattle Opera’s performance of Madama Butterfly at McCaw Hall on 20 May. “He’s just too powerful. He gets too close, the way he writes about romantic love. The music just rips your heart. It’s too much.” In the back of my mind was the memory of a very similar feeling when we attended Puccini’s La Boheme in 2007 (see http://www.seattleopera.org/discover/archive/production.aspx?productionID=44).

The final version of Madama Butterfly premiered in Paris, France on 28 December 1906—106 years ago—and premiered by Seattle Opera on 15 March 1966. It now ranks #8 in the Operabase list of most-performed operas worldwide (see http://operabase.com/top.cgi?lang=en&). People have always liked beautiful tragedies.

My wife and I talked over Madama Butterfly as we enjoyed a wonderful dinner at the Modello Italian Restaurant in Magnolia (see www.mondelloristorante.com). The whole event was my birthday gift to her.

The story occurs in Nagasaki, Japan at the turn of the 20th century. Madama Butterfly is also known in the opera as Cio-Cio-San. When she “weds” B.F. Pinkerton, an American naval lieutenant, and converts to his religion, she is renounced and abandoned by her family.  She is a geisha and comes with the house he leases, but he has the option to cancel the whole arrangement on a month’s notice. His long-term plan is to take an American wife. Meanwhile, he enjoys bliss with Butterfly.

“Throughout the first Act,” I told my wife at dinner while sipping my Sangiovese, “I was thinking, ‘Cad! Cad!'”

Eventually, his ship departs, and he has the American consulate continue paying the rent. Three years later, Cio-Cio-San is running out of money. She spurns a marriage proposal from a wealthy Japanese man, certain of Pinkerton’s love and eventual return. Sure enough, his ship again sails into Nagasaki, but he has brought his American wife. He then learns that his Butterfly bore him a son. His American wife offers to raise the son as their own. Pinkerton is overcome by remorse and is unable to confront Cio-Cio-San. She gives up her son and commits jigai, the ritual suicide for  Japanese women which is performed by plunging a knife into the neck.

“Early in the third Act,” I told my wife, “I was thinking, ‘Coward! Coward!'” Later, Pinkerton even calls himself that. Puccini is just too much. The pathos is extraordinary. So—aaarrrgghhh!—yes, we’ll probably go again to another of his operas. But his heroines always seem to die in tragedy. “He who has lived for love, has died for love.”—from Il tabaro (The Cloak), 1918.

Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini, 1858-1924

Hmmm…today, I received a mailer showing that in August, the Seattle Opera will perform Puccini’s Turandot. Isn’t the fabulous, soaring tenor aria, “Nessun dorma” (“None Shall Sleep”), from that opera? I looked it up. Yes. And the Turandot orchestration calls for three trumpets in F and six onstage trumpets in B-Flat—how can I miss that? I am the moth drawn to the flame. In “Nessun dorma,” once again, Puccini makes one’s heart ache and eyes brim. Just watch and listen to Pavoritti sing this aria: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTFUM4Uh_6Y&feature=related.

Seattle performance photos are by Elise Bakketun, courtesy of the Seattle Opera. Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

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