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Baritone

Nicolae Herlea, Romanian Verdi Baritone

By April 28, 2023No Comments

One of the really nice things about doing this blog is that I get to discover wonderful artists by accident. This posting is about Nicolae Herlea, a Romanian baritone whom I had never heard of. This was a very large and beautiful voice. Because he was born behind the Iron Curtain, he was not as well known in the West as he could have been. Please enjoy listening to him.

Largo al factotum del mar

Largo al factotum della città.
Presto a bottega che l’alba è già.
Ah, che bel vivere, che bel piacere
per un barbiere di qualità!

Ah, bravo Figaro! Bravo, bravissimo!
Fortunatissimo per verità!

Pronto a far tutto, la notte e il giorno
sempre d’intorno in giro sta.
Miglior cuccagna per un barbiere,
vita più nobile, no, non si da.

Rasori e pettini, lancette e forbici,
al mio comando tutto qui sta.
V’è la risorsa, poi, del mestiere
colla donnetta… col cavaliere…

Tutti mi chiedono, tutti mi vogliono,
donne, ragazzi, vecchi, fanciulle:
Qua la parrucca… Presto la barba…
Qua la sanguigna… Presto il biglietto…
Figaro! Figaro! Figaro!, ecc.

Ahimè, che furia! Ahimè, che folla!
Uno alla volta, per carità!
Ehi, Figaro! Son qua.
Figaro qua, Figaro là,
Figaro su, Figaro giù.

Pronto prontissimo son come il fulmine:
sono il factotum della città.
Ah, bravo Figaro! Bravo, bravissimo;
a te fortuna non mancherà.

Room for the city’s jack of all trades

Room for the city’s factotum, here;
Off to the shop – the dawn is near.
What a merry life, what pleasure gay,
Awaits a barber of quality!

Ah, bravo, Figaro! Bravo, bravissimo!
Of men you are the happiest, most surely.

Ready for all, both by night and by day,
I bustle about so briskly and gay.
What better cheer, what happier lot,
Could an ever active barber await!

Razors and combs, and lancets, and scissors,
All here and ready at my command.
Then there are little resources besides –
With the young dame, with the gay cavalier.

All after me, all inquire for me,
Both young and old, mistress and maid:
“My wig here!” – “My beard here!”
“Here, bleed me!!” – “Quick, the note!”
Figaro! Figaro! Figaro! etc.

Oh, what a crowding! Oh, what a fury!
Oh, what a crowding! Oh, what a fury!
“Hey, Figaro!” – I’m here.
“Hey, Figaro!” – I’m here.
Figaro up, Figaro down.

Swift and swifter, quick as lightning:
Room for the city’s factotum here.
Ah, bravo, Figaro! bravo, bravissimo!
In very truth the luckiest of men.

Prologo dei Pagliacci

PROLOGO
Tonio, in costume da Taddeo come nella commedia, passando attraverso al telone

TONIO
Si può?… Si può?…
poi salutando
Signore! Signori!… Scusatemi
se da sol me presento.
Io sono il Prologo:

Poiché in iscena ancor
le antiche maschere mette l’autore,
in parte ei vuol riprendere
le vecchie usanze, e a voi
di nuovo inviami.

Ma non per dirvi come pria:
«Le lacrime che noi versiam son false!
Degli spasimi e de’ nostri martir
non allarmatevi!» No! No:
L’autore ha cercato
invece pingervi
uno squarcio di vita.
Egli ha per massima sol
che l’artista è un uom
e che per gli uomini
scrivere ei deve.
Ed al vero ispiravasi.

Un nido di memorie
in fondo a l’anima
cantava un giorno,
ed ei con vere lacrime scrisse,
e i singhiozzi
il tempo gli battevano!

Dunque, vedrete amar
sì come s’amano gli esseri umani;
vedrete de l’odio i tristi frutti.
Del dolor gli spasimi,
urli di rabbia, udrete,
e risa ciniche!

E voi, piuttosto
che le nostre povere gabbane d’istrioni,
le nostr’anime considerate,
poiché siam uomini
di carne e d’ossa,
e che di quest’orfano mondo
al pari di voi spiriamo l’aere!

Il concetto vi dissi…
Or ascoltate com’egli è svolto.
gridando verso la scena
Andiam. Incominciate!
Rientra e la tela si leva.

Prologue from I Pagliaci

PROLOGUE
Tonio in the costume of Taddeo in the play, coming through the curtain

TONIO
Excuse me!
bowing
Ladies and gentlemen,
forgive me for appearing alone.
I am the Prologue.

Since the author is putting on the stage
again the old Comedy of Masks,
he would like to revive
some of the old customs
and so sends me out again to you.

But not to say, as of old,
“The tears we shed are feigned!
Do not alarm yourselves at our sufferings
and our torments!” No.
The author instead has sought to paint
for you a scene from life.
He takes as his basis simply
that the artist is a man
and that he must write for men.
His inspiration was a true story.

A horde of memories
was one day running through his head,
and he wrote, shedding real tears,
with sobs to mark the time!

So you will see love,
as real as the love of human beings:
You will see the sad fruit of hate.
You will hear agonies of grief,
cries of rage and bitter laughter!

So think then, not of our poor
theatrical costumes
but of our souls,
for we are men of flesh and blood.
Breathing the air of this lonely world
Just like you!

I have told you his plan.
Now hear how it is unfolded.
calling towards the stage
Come. Let’s begin!

He goes in, and the curtain rises.

Verdi, Un ballo in maschera, “Eri tu”

Renato
lasciato il ferro, additandole, senza guardarla, un uscio
Alzati, là tuo figlio
A te concedo riveder. Nell’ombra
E nel silenzio, là,
Il tuo rossore e l’onta mia nascondi.
Amelia esce
Non è su lei, nel suo fragile petto
che colpir degg’io. Altro, ben altro sangue
a terger dèssi l’offesa…
fissando il ritratto del Conte
Il sangue tuo!
E lo trarrà il pugnale
dallo sleal tuo core:
delle lacrime mie vendicator!

Eri tu che macchiavi quell’anima,
La delzia dell’anima mia…
Che m’affidi e d’un tratto esecrabile
L’universo avveleni per me!
Traditor! che in tal guisa
Dell’amico tuo primo la fè!
O dolcezze perdute! O memorie
D’un amplesso che l’essere india!…
Quando Amelia sì bella, sì candida
Sul mio seno brillava d’amor!…
È finita – non siede che l’odio,
E la morte sul vedovo cor!
O dolcezze perdute, o speranze d’amor!

Verdi, A Masked Ball, “It was you”

Renato
left of the iron, pointing to it, without looking at it, a doorway
Arise; there is your son,
I permit you to see him. In the darkness
and the silence, there,
hide your blushes and my shame.
Amelia exits
It isn’t her, no, not her
Fragile breast that I must strike.
Another, fine, another’s blood must wipe away
The offense! . . .
Your blood!
And I will draw the dagger
From your treacherous heart,
The avenger of my tears!

And it is you who stained that soul,
The delight of my soul …
Who confided in me and for one execrable instant
Poisoned the universe for me!
Traitor! In such a manner you repay
The faith of your former friend!
O lost delights! O memories
Of an embrace that rendered happiness! …
When Amelia is so beautiful, so pure
On my breast shone with love! …
It’s finished – nothing remains but hatred,
And death in my widower’s heart!
O lost delights, O hopes of love!

Nicolae Herlea
August 28, 1927 – February 24, 2014

The baritone Nicolae Herlea studied at the Bucharest Conservatory with professor Aurelius Cotescu-Duca. Later he attended courses in Rome at the Academia di Santa Cecilia, with maestro Giorgio Favaretto. He debuted in 1950 on the stage of the Bucharest National Opera with the role of Silvio in the show “Pagliacci” by Ruggiero Leoncavallo and remained employed, as the first baritone of this scene.

He won First Prize at international competitions in Geneva, Prague and Brussels. These great successes were followed by his appearance on the biggest stages of the world.

He performed with great success for over 35 years on the world’s biggest stages: the Metropolitan Opera in New York, La Scala in Milan, the National Opera in Prague, the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Covent Garden in London, and National Operas in Berlin, Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, Tokyo, Tehran and Tel-Aviv. He also had memorable appearances on big American stages in Boston, Cleveland, Detroit and Atlanta.

His rich repertoire included important roles such as Figaro in “The Barber of Seville” by Gioachino Rossini (a role he performed more than 500 times), Lord Ashton in “Lucia di Lammermoore” by Gaetano Donizetti, the Marquis de Posa from “Don Carlo” by Giuseppi Verdi, Rigoletto from “Rigoletto” by Giuseppi Verdi, Onhegin from “Evgehni Onhegin” by Piotr Ilici Ceaikovski, Igor from “Prince Igor” by Alexander Porfirievici Borodin, and Scarpia from “Tosca” by Giacomo Puccini.