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Lyric Soprano

Geraldine Farrar, American Soprano

By June 27, 2024No Comments

Geraldine Farrar was an American soprano, known for her beauty and dramatic talent and the intimate timbre of her voice.

I have selected Farrar because of her reputation. The recording that are posted here are over 100 years old, and some have been remastered better than others. What is especially important to note is the large size of her voice and its expressiveness. This expressiveness does not come at the cost of a sacrifice in vocal production. Again it is difficult to make any general statements from the recordings that we have, primarily since we are not hearing the whole voice, but suffice it to say that she deserves her reputation.

Mimì

Sì, Mi chiamano Mimì,
ma il mio nome è Lucia.
La storia mia è breve:
a tela o a seta
ricamo in casa e fuori…
Son tranquilla e lieta
ed è mio svago
far gigli e rose.
Mi piaccion quelle cose
che han sì dolce malìa,
che parlano d’amor, di primavere,
di sogni e di chimere,
quelle cose che han nome poesia…
Lei m’intende?

Mimì
Mi chiamano Mimì,
il perchè non so.
Sola, mi fo
il pranzo da me stessa.
Non vado sempre a messa,
ma prego assai il Signore.
Vivo sola, soletta
là in una bianca cameretta:
guardo sui tetti e in cielo;
ma quando vien lo sgelo
il primo sole è mio
il primo bacio dell’aprile è mio!
Germoglia in un vaso una rosa…
Foglia a foglia la spio!
Cosi gentile il profumo d’un fiore!
Ma i fior ch’io faccio,
Ahimè! non hanno odore.

Mimì

Yes.
They call me Mimì,
but my real name’s Lucia.
My story is brief.
I embroider silk and satin
at home or outside.
I’m tranquil and happy,
and my pastime
is making lilies and roses.
I love all things
that have gentle magic,
that talk of love, of spring,
that talk of dreams and fancies –
the things called poetry…
Do you understand me?

They call me Mimì –
I don’t know why.
I live all by myself
and I eat alone.
I don’t often go to church,
but I like to pray.
I stay all alone
in my tiny white room,
I look at the roofs and the sky.
But when spring comes
the sun’s first rays are mine.
April’s first kiss is mine, is mine!
The sun’s first rays are mine!
A rose blossoms in my vase,
I breathe its perfume, petal by petal.
So sweet is the flower’s perfume.
But the flowers I make, alas,
the flowers I make, alas,
alas, have no scent.

TOSCA
Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore,
non feci mai male ad anima viva!…
Con man furtiva
quante miserie conobbi, aiutai…
Sempre con fe’ sincera,
la mia preghiera
ai santi tabernacoli salì.
Sempre con fé sincera
diedi fiori agli altar.

Nell’ora del dolore
perché, perché Signore,
perché me ne rimuneri così?
Diedi gioielli
della Madonna al manto,
e diedi il canto
agli astri, al ciel, che ne ridean più belli.
Nell’ora del dolore,
perché, perché Signore,
perché me ne rimuneri così?

TOSCA
I lived for art. I lived for love:
Never did I harm a living creature! …
Whatever misfortunes I encountered
I sought with secret hand to succor …
Ever in pure faith,
My prayers rose
In the holy chapels.
Ever in pure faith,
I brought flowers to the altars.

In this hour of pain, why,
Why, oh Lord, why
Dost Thou repay me thus?
Jewels I brought
For the Madonna’s mantle,
And songs for the stars in heaven
That they shine forth with greater radiance.
In this hour of distress, why,
Why, oh Lord,
Why dost Thou repay me thus?

Puccini, Madama Butterfly, “Un bel dì”

Un bel dì, vedremo
levarsi un fil di fumo
dall’estremo confin del mare.
E poi la nave appare.
Poi la nave bianca
entra nel porto,
romba il suo saluto.
Vedi? È venuto!
Io non gli scendo incontro. Io no.
Mi metto là sul ciglio del colle e aspetto,
e aspetto gran tempo e non mi pesa,
la lunga attesa.
E uscito dalla folla cittadina
un uomo, un picciol punto
s’avvia per la collina.

Chi sarà? chi sarà?
E come sarà giunto
che dirà? che dirà?
Chiamerà Butterfly dalla lontana.
Io senza dar risposta
me ne starò nascosta
un po’ per celia…
e un po’ per non morire al primo incontro,
ed egli alquanto in pena chiamerà,
chiamerà: piccina mogliettina
olezzo di verbena,
i nomi che mi dava al suo venire

Tutto questo avverrà, te lo prometto.
Tienti la tua paura,
io con sicura fede l’aspetto.

Puccini, Madame Butterfly, “One fine day”

One fine day, we’ll see
rise a filament of smoke
from the extreme confines of the sea.
And then a ship appears.
Then the white ship
enters the port,
it salutes its greeting.
You see? It came!
I do not meet it. Not I.
I stand there on the edge of the hill and wait,
and I wait a long time and it does not bother me,
the long wait.
And out of the city crowd
a man, a small point
he goes to the hill.

Who can he be? who can he be?
And how will he arrive?
what will he say? what will he say?
He will call Butterfly from far away.
I without giving an answer
I will be hidden from all of it
a little for like a joke …
and a little so as not to die during the first meeting,
and he will hardly call,
will call: little wife
oil of verbena,
the names that gave me to when he arrived.

All this will happen, I promise you.
Take your fear,
I await him with sure faith.

Gounod, Faust, “Ah! je ris de me voir”

Ah! je ris de me voir
si belle en ce miroir,
Ah! je ris de me voir
si belle en ce miroir,
Est-ce toi, Marguerite, est-ce toi?
Réponds-moi, réponds-moi,
Réponds, réponds, réponds vite!
Non! Non! ce n’est plus toi!
Non…non, ce n’est plus ton visage;
C’est la fille d’un roi;
Ce n’est plus toi,
C’est la fille d’un roi
Qu’on salut au passage!
Ah, s’il était ici!
S’il me voyait ainsi!
Comme une demoiselle
Il me trouverait belle, Ah!

Gounod, Faust, “The jewel song”

Ah, I laugh to see myself
so beautiful in this mirror,
Ah, I laugh to see myself
so beautiful in this mirror,
Is it you, Marguerite, it is you?
Answer me, answer me,
Respond, respond, respond quickly!
No, no! it is no longer you!
No…no, it is no longer your face;
It is the daughter of a king,
It is no longer you, etc.
It is the daughter of a king,
Whom one bows to as she passes!
Ah, if only he were here!
If he would see me like this
Like a lady
He would find me so beautiful, Ah!

Geraldine Farrar
February 28, 1882 – March 11, 1967

Farrar displayed musical talent from early childhood, and although she eventually abandoned the piano she continued her voice lessons. In 1900 she traveled to Berlin, where in 1901 she made a sensational debut at the Royal Opera House in Charles Gounod’s Faust. After three years with the Royal Opera, Farrar spent three years (1904–07) with the Monte Carlo Opera, making her debut there opposite Enrico Caruso in La Bohème.

She made her debut at the New York Metropolitan Opera in Romeo et Juliette on November 26, 1906.

In February 1907 she sang Cio-Cio-San in the Met’s first performance of Madama Butterfly, a performance that also featured Louise Homer and Caruso and for which Giacomo Puccini himself was present. Farrar’s youth, beauty, and richly dramatic soprano voice made her a sensation in the role, which she repeated 95 times in her Metropolitan career. For the next 15 years she was a leading member of that company, appearing in some 30 roles; the most popular were Carmen, Thaïs, Gilda, Zerlina, Cherubino, Manon, Mignon, and Tosca. Her farewell performance came in 1922 in the title role of Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Zaza.