Callas et al., Lucia di Lamermoor Sextet, live in Berlin, 1955, von Karajan (c)

Those who know me well know that my interest in opera was launched by good, Italian pressings of Callas (this was before CDs existed, so I am dating myself).  I consider myself to be as much of a Callas-aholic as anyone.  So, here I am, starting a music blog, and, no Maria!  Egads!  So many people have said so many things about her, that I have little to add.  But I do have a few performances to highlight.

Lucia di Lammermoor

Lucia di Lammermoor is a bel canto opera (we will eventually get to bel canto, verisimo, etc) written by Donizetti in 1835.  It’s loosely based on a novel by Sir Walter Scott.  And in course, as in so many operas, the title character Lucia goes mad at the end.  File that under misogyny in opera, another topic we will come to.

This performance is famous because of the very well-known sextet “Chi mi frena in tal momento?”.  This performance was live in Berlin in 1955, I believe.  It was conducted by von Karajan, who was not known for bel canto opera.  However, here he is wonderful.  And what is even more wonderful is that the Berlin audience goes so wild over the performance, that von Karajan orders the singers to repeat it.  Besides Callas, the other singers were:  Giuseppe di Stefano/Rolando Panerai/Nicola Zaccaria/Giuseppe Zampieri/Luisa Villa/Coro del Teatro alla Scala, Milano.

Here is the link:

https://youtu.be/sh-VMQKczLs

Now, of course there is more.  The ancestor of this performance is the following one, probably recorded acoustically.  Which one do you like better?

https://youtu.be/14tdvxUvxFU

Galli-Curci, Caruso, Minnie Egener, Giuseppe De Luca, Angelo Bada and Marcel Journet

EDGARDO
(a parte)

Chi mi frena in tal momento,
chi troncò dell’ira il corso?
Il suo duolo, il suo spavento
son la prova d’un rimorso!
Ma, qual rosa inaridita,
ella sta fra morte e vita!
Io son vinto, son commosso,
t’amo ingrata, t’amo ancor!

ENRICO
(a parte)
Chi raffrena il mio furore,
e la man che al brando corse?
Della misera in favore
nel mio petto un grido sorse!
È mio sangue! L’ho tradita!
Ella sta fra morte e vita!
Ah! che spegnere non posso
i rimorsi del mio cor!

LUCIA
(a parte)
Io sperai che a me la vita
tronca avesse il mio spavento,
ma la morte non m’aita –
vivo ancor per mio tormento!
Da’ miei lumi cadde il velo,
mi tradì la terra e il cielo!
Vorrei piangere e non posso,
m’abbandona il pianto ancor.

RAIMONDO
(a parte)
Qual terribile momento!
Più formar non so parole!
Densa nube di spavento
par che copra i rai del sole!
Come rosa inaridita,
ella sta tra morte e vita,
chi per lei non è commosso,
ha di tigre in petto il cor.

ENRICO
È mio sangue. L’ho tradito,
ecc.

EDGARDO
Chi mi frena in tal momento?
ecc.

ALISA, CORO
Come rosa inaridita,
ecc.

ARTURO
Qual terribile momento,
ecc.

ENRICO
Ah, è mio sangue,
ecc.

LUCIA
Vorrei piangere… e non posso,
ecc.

RAIMONDO
Chi per lei non è commosso,
ecc.

EDGARDO
Ah, son vinto, son commosso,
ecc.

EDGARDO
(aside)
Who curbs me at such a moment,
who stemmed the flood of my anger?
Her grief, her terror, are the proof,
are the proof of her remorse!
But like a withered rose,
she hovers between death and life!
I surrender, I am touched,
I love you, heartless girl, I love you still!

ENRICO
(aside)

Who checks my fury
and the hand which darted to my sword?
I heard within me a plea
for the unhappy girl!
She is my kin! I have betrayed her!
She hovers between death and life!
Ah, I cannot quell
the remorse in my soul!

LUCIA
(aside)
I hoped that terror
would cut short my life,
but death will not help me…
I must live on in anguish!
The veil fell from my eyes.
I was betrayed by earth and Heaven!
I would weep, but I cannot,
even tears have forsaken me.

RAIMONDO
(aside)
What a terrible moment!
I cannot find words to say!
A dense cloud of terror
seems to dim the sun’s rays!
Like a withered rose,
she hovers between death and life,
whoever does not feel for her,
has the heart of a tiger.

ENRICO
She is my kin. I have betrayed her,
etc.

EDGARDO
Who curbs me at such a moment?
etc.

ALISA, CHORUS
Like a withered rose,
etc.

ARTURO
What a terrible moment,
etc.

ENRICO
Ah, she is my kin,
etc.

LUCIA
I would weep…but I cannot,
etc.

RAIMONDO
Whoever does not feel for her,
etc.

EDGARDO
Ah, I surrender, I am touched,
etc.