WDBX Opera Overnight – Puccini, Verdi

English: Enrico Caruso as Cavaradossi

English: Enrico Caruso as Cavaradossi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We started tonight’s set with Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca.  Puccini based the opera on an 1887 play by Victorien Sardou, and had Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa  write the libretto, a project that took four years due to the wordiness of the original French play.  It was premiered at the Teatro Costanzi on January 14, 1900.  The young tenor Enrico Caruso, then on the brink of fame, wanted to create the part of Cavaradossi, but was passed over for the more experienced Emilio De Marchi.  He eventually became a regular in the role at the Metropolitan Opera, as did Emmy Destinn, and later Maria Callas, in the role of Tosca.

Indeed, tonight’s recording is a 1953 recording that features Maria Callas, along with Giuseppe Di Stefano, Tito Gobbi, and Franco Calabrese.  Victor De Sabata leads the Orchestra & Chorus Of La Scala Milan.

Our next piece is a rather popular piece by Giuseppe Verdi, La forza del destino, translated as “The Force of Destiny”.  It was based on an 1835 play by the Spanish playwright Ángel de Saavedra, Don Álvaro o la fuerza del sino, and premiered on Nov 22nd, 1862 in the Bolshoi Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia.  It is a frequently performed piece, and the overture is also part of the standard repertoire for symphony orchestras.  Tonight’s recording features a large cast, led by Leontyne Price, Richard Tucker, Robert Merrill, Shirley Verrett, Giorgio Tozzi, Ezio Flagello, with the RCA Italiana Opera Orchestra and Chorus as conducted by Thomas Schippers.

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