This posting is an indulgence to me, and since I’m the one posting, I’m going to indulge myself.  You’ve heard of a murder of crows; well, this is a plethora of tenors singing the same aria.  This aria was written by Gounod in French, but that hasn’t stopped anyone from singing it in Italian.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it has been sung in Russian.   Our tenors, in order of appearance are:  Antonio Cortis, a wonderful, wonderful Spanish tenor (singing in Italian), Giuseppi Di Stefano, when he was young, Georges Thill (singing in French), John McCormack, who, with Caruso, was the most popular tenor of his time, and finally, Enrico Caruso.

A word of warning.  The farther back in time we go, the more that people are apt to “remaster” recordings.  This usually results in less surface noise, but the remastering kills the higher overtones.  So, for example, with Caruso, we get a cleaner sound but maybe one-fourth of his voice.  I personally would rather hear the surface noise, but we have what we have.

Second, I have gone to ridiculous lengths to synchronize the Italian and the French texts.  The Italian is somewhat close to the French, but not exactly the same as the French.  This is because when translating from French to  Italian, the translation was different from the original, and, in certain cases, notes were added to the Italian version to make the new text fit.  I can swear to this because I had the French and Italian scores out to compare what went where.  This means that when you read the English translation, it is a translation of the French and not of the Italian.

And I should say something about each of the singers.  Cortis was at least a spinto if not even bigger.  It’s interesting to hear where he placed the sound.  He has an Italiante vocal production, which means that he puts the sound into the masque.  In other words, you can feel the sound coming from the front of his face and not from his throat.  Di Stefano is similar.  There are two high Cs in this aria.  The last one can be sung full-voiced or mezzo piano.  Each one of these tenors does it differently.  Thill was a heroic tenor, meaning he had a very big voice.  I have a posting on Thill alone, and you can look him up there.

And finally, Caruso.  There is nothing that I can say that hasn’t already been said about him.  Just keep in mind that you are not hearing the full voice.

Faust, Act III

Faust, transformed into a young man by Méphistophélès sends, sends Méphistophélès in search of a gift for Marguerite and sings a cavatina (Salut, demeure chaste et pure) idealizing Marguerite as a pure child of nature.

 

Salut! demeure chaste et pure,

Quel trouble inconnu me pénètre?
Je sens l’amour s’emparer de mon être
Ô Marguerite, à tes pieds me voici!

Salut! demeure chaste et pure,
Salut! demeure chaste et pure,
Où se devine la présence
d’une âme innocent et divine!
Que de richesse en cette pauvreté
En ce réduit, que de félicité!
Que de richesse,
Que de richesse en cette pauvreté!
Ô nature, C’est là
que tu la fis si belle!
C’est là que cet enfant
A dormi sous ton aile,
A grandi sous tes yeux.
Là que de ton haleine
Enveloppant son âme
Tu fis avec l’amour épanouir la femme
En cet ange des cieux!
C’est là! Oui, c’est là!
Salut! demeure chaste et pure,
Salut! demeure chaste et pure,
Où se devine la présence
d’une âme innocente et divine!
Salut, salut, demeure chaste et pure, etc

Salve! dimora casta e pura

Qual turbimento in core mi sento?
Sento d’amor ardere il core!
O Margherita, al tuo piè vo’morir!

Salve! dimora casta e pura
Salve! dimora casta e pura
Che a me rivella
Che al guardo mio la cela
Quanta dovizia in questa povertà
In quest’asil quanta felicità!
Quanta dovizia
Quanta dovizia in questa povertà
O bei ochi! bei lari
ove leggiadra e bella!
Ella aggirarsi suol
ove gentille
e snella; Ella percorre il suol!
Qui la baciava il sole
E le dorava il crine
Su voi rivolger suolle le luci sue divini
Quell’angelo del ciel!
Si quà! sì sì quà
Salve dimora casta e pura
Salve dimora casta e pura
Che ame rivela la gentil fancìulla
Che al guardo mio la cella
Salve, salve, dimora casta e pura, etc.

Greetings, chaste and pure dwelling

What unknown trouble penetrates me?
I sense love taking hold of my being!
O Marguerite, at your feet, here I am!

I greet you, home chaste and pure,
I greet you, home chaste and pure,
Where is manifested the presence
Of a soul, innocent and divine!
How much richness in this poverty!
In this retreat, how much happiness!
How much richness
What richness in this poverty!
O nature, it is here
That you have made her so beautiful!
It is here that this child
Slept under your wing,
Grew up under your eyes.
Here that your breath
Enveloping her soul,
You made, with love, the woman blossom
Into this angel from heaven!
It’s here! Yes, it is here!
I greet you, home chaste and pure,
I greet you, home chaste and pure,
Where is manifested the presence
Of a soul, innocent and divine!
I greet you, home chaste and pure, etc.