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your Natalie Dessay Programme here
Saturday 26 January 2008 at 7.30pm
Natalie Dessay soprano
Concerto Köln
Maria Stuarda, Maria’s: ‘O nube’ 7’
Symphony in D major 26’
I puritani, Elvira: ‘O rendetemi la speme’ …
Qui la voce … Vien, diletto’ 13’
Roberto Devereux, Overture 8’
Rigoletto, Gilda: ‘Gualtier Maldè ... Caro nome’
La traviata, Prelude to Act One 3’
La traviata, Violetta: ‘E strano … Ah, fors’è lui ...
Sempre libera’ 10’
Evelino Pidò conductor
Natalie Dessay soprano
There is one interval of 20 minutes. The performance will end at approximately 9.30pm.
Barbican Hall
The Barbican is
provided by the
City of London
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Gaetano Donizetti
Maria Stuarda
‘O nube’
Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda was born under an unlucky
star. It was written for the Teatro San Carlo in Naples,
where it reached its public dress rehearsal in 1834 only to
be pulled from the schedule at the insistence of the King.
There had already been trouble at an earlier rehearsal,
when the rival prima donnas singing Elizabeth I and
Mary Stuart had actually come to blows. That the Queen
of Naples was herself a descendant of Mary Stuart –
who, in the opera’s final scene, is on the point of being
executed – may have played some part in the royal
decision. Donizetti hastily adapted his score to fit a new
libretto, Buondelmonte, about an arranged marriage in
thirteenth-century Florence.
The following year, at La Scala, Milan, Maria Stuarda
finally reached the stage when the great mezzo Maria
Malibran decided to take on the title role. Unfortunately,
in a characteristically wilful gesture, she also decided to
ignore the censor’s rulings on some strong language in
the libretto and various religious references, and the
opera was again banned after just six performances. In
our own day it has become one of the most popular of
Donizetti’s works, due partly to its musical and dramatic
strengths, but also to the familiarity of its subject.
That subject is the relationship between Elizabeth and
her Scottish cousin, which ended with the latter’s
execution in 1587. Even the playwright Schiller – on
whose drama the opera was based, and who was
himself an historian – could not resist adding a scene in
which the two encounter one another, something that
never actually happened.
At the beginning of Act Two, Mary, already long a
prisoner, is at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire,
revelling in the relative freedom of being able to enjoy
the fresh air of the surrounding woods and fields, and
little suspecting the fatal nature of the confrontation that
awaits her.
O nube che lieve per l’aria ti aggiri,
Tu reca il mio afetto, tu reca i sospiri
Al suolo beato che un dì mi nudri.
Deh! scendi cortese, mi accogli sui vanni,
Mi rendi alla Francia, m’invola agli affanni!
Ma cruda la nube pur essa fuggi
al suolo beato che un dì mi nudri.
O cloud that lightly moves across the sky,
Carry my love and my sighs
To the blessed land which once cherished me.
Ah! In kindness descend and take me on your wings,
Take me back to France, take me away from my sufferings!
But the cruel cloud too has fled
To the blessed land which once cherished me.
Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842)
eighteenth century and the first of the nineteenth;
Beethoven thought him the greatest of all his
contemporaries. As the director of the Paris
Conservatoire (which he had helped to found) for the last
twenty years of his life, and a teacher there for nearly
thirty years before that, he was enormously influential on
generations of French musicians.
Symphony in D major
1 Largo – Allegro
2 Larghetto cantabile
3 Minuetto: Allegro non tanto – Trio
4 Allegro assai
Although his music is neglected nowadays, the
Florentine-turned-Frenchman Cherubini was one of the
dominant musical figures of the last decades of the
As a composer, he is best remembered for his operas
and his church music. His father played the harpsichord
at the Teatro della Pergola in Florence. Young Luigi
studied music early and thoroughly. A short opera by him
was staged when he was thirteen. Thereafter he wrote
fluently for several opera houses in Italy before striking
out for London, where three new operas by him were
staged at the King’s Theatre in the Haymarket in 1785-6
and the future King George IV obtained for him the post
of Composer to the King. But his Italian colleague Viotti
tempted him to Paris, where he spent the rest of his life.
There he was caught up in the maelstrom of the French
Revolution and its aftermath, whose volatility and fire
found musical expression in works such as Lodoïska
(1791), Médée (1797) and Les Deux Journées (1800),
which were admired all over Europe. Later, he turned to
church music, composing two distinguished settings of
the Requiem Mass, in 1816 and 1836.
His only Symphony was written for London where the
(now Royal) Philharmonic Society commissioned it,
together with an overture and a cantata, the Inno alla
Primavera, in 1815. Though it went down well at its
London premiere on 1 May, Cherubini never wrote
Vincenzo Bellini (1801-35)
I puritani
‘O rendetemi la speme … Qui la voce …
Vien, diletto’
I puritani was Bellini’s final opera, a huge hit at its
premiere at the Théâtre Italien in Paris in January 1835,
just eight months before the composer’s sudden illness
and death at a house in the Parisian suburbs at the age
of 34. Scottish or (as here) English subjects had become
particularly fashionable for Italian and French operas at
this period, due to the immense, Europe-wide popularity
of the novels of Sir Walter Scott. But this particular
example derives from a French play on the subject of
O rendetemi la speme;
O lasciatemi morir.
another, and indeed later turned this one into a string
quartet (No. 2) in 1829, transposing it down to C and
replacing the slow movement.
Given the fact that Beethoven had written eight of his nine
symphonies by this date, Cherubini’s seems conservative,
with some influence of Haydn and Mozart and yet many
individual touches. The first movement begins with a
gentle slow introduction before the busy Allegro, whose
second subject commences unusually with an insecure
theme in the odd key of A minor before a chirpier majorkey idea takes over. There are some Beethovenian touches
to the Larghetto, which is more purely melodic in nature,
though with some dramatic gestures. The strongly
characterised Minuetto (Cherubini does not call it a
Scherzo) is based on rising scale figures, and there’s surely
some influence of Italian folk music in the offbeat rhythms
of the Trio. The finale is another sonata form movement,
energetic and occasionally stormy, again with regular
dramatic impulses.
Têtes Rondes et Cavaliers (‘Roundheads and Cavaliers’)
by the writing duo of Ancelot and Xavier.
The setting is a fortress near Plymouth during the English
Civil War. The Puritans holding the fortress have in their
midst a secret Royalist sympathizer, Arturo, who is
nevertheless about to marry Elvira, daughter of the
fortress’s governor, Lord Walton. But when Arturo
realises that a prisoner brought to the fortress is Queen
Henrietta Maria, Charles I’s widow, and thus herself
under threat, he manages to spirit her away disguised
with Elvira’s own wedding veil. This action precipitates a
sentence of death in his absence, while his apparent
desertion of his bride causes her to lose her reason.
In what is a classic example of the operatic mad scene,
Elvira expresses a desire for either a return to hope, or
death; then, lost in her illusory dreams, she recalls to
herself happier times with Arturo.
Oh, let me hope again,
Or let me die.
Qui la voce sua soave
Mi chiamava ... e poi sparì.
Qui giurava esser fedele,
Poi crudele – mi fuggi!
Ah! mai più qui assorti insieme
Nella gioia de’ sospir.
Ah! rendetemi la speme,
O lasciatemi morir.
Here his gentle voice
Called me ... then vanished.
Here he swore his faithfulness
Then cruelly fled from me!
Ah, together here no more,
Lost in sighs of happiness!
Ah, restore my hope to me,
Or give me leave to die.
Vien, diletto, è in ciel la luna!
Tutto tace intorno, intorno;
Fin che spunti in cielo il giorno,
Vieni, ti posa sul mio cor.
Deh! t’affretta, o Arturo mio,
Riedi, o caro, alla tua Elvira:
Essa piange e ti sospira,
Riedi, o caro, al primo amor.
Come, beloved, the moon’s in heaven!
All is silent round about us;
Until day breaks in the sky,
Come, rest upon my heart.
Ah! Make haste, my Arturo,
Return, dear, to your Elvira:
She weeps and longs for you,
Return to your first love.
Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848)
Roberto Devereux
English subjects, and indeed specifically Tudor
subjects, crop up regularly in Donizetti, and Queen
Elizabeth I appears in three of his 69 operas. Her last
appearance comes in Roberto Devereux, which
premiered in Naples in 1837. The subject here is the
Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
‘Gualtier Maldè ... Caro nome’
In Verdi’s 1851 revenge tragedy, set in 16th-century
Mantua, Gilda, daughter of the embittered court jester
Queen’s love for her favourite Robert, Earl of Essex.
But he is in love with the Duchess of Nottingham,
whose jealous husband engineers his downfall and
death. The opera’s overture opens with a few dramatic
gestures before striking up ‘God Save the Queen’
(unhistorically, since the national anthem postdates
Elizabeth I) and treating it to a series of variations. The
main Allegro section sets up an atmosphere of tension
and intrigue and also makes a feature of the melody
of the cabaletta sung by Roberto as he lies in prison in
the final act.
Rigoletto, is kept hidden away at home to protect her from
the viciousness of the court. She has been approached at
church, nevertheless, by the cynical Duke, who has made
her believe that he is no more than a poor student. Having
bribed her chaperone to admit him to Rigoletto’s home,
he continues his campaign of seduction. After he leaves,
Gilda repeats to herself his fictitious name, which for her
contains all the romance of first love.
Gualtier Maldè … nome di lui sì amato,
Scolpisciti nel core innamorato!
Caro nome che il mio cor
Festi primo palpitar,
Le delizie dell' amor
Mi dei sempre rammentar!
Col pensiero il mio desir
A te ognora volerà,
E pur l' ultimo sospir,
Caro nome, tuo sarà.
Gualtier Maldè … name of my beloved,
Brand this loving heart!
Sweet name, you who made my heart
Throb for the first time,
You must always remind me
Of the pleasures of love!
My desire will fly to you
On the wings of thought
And my last breath
Will be yours, my beloved.
Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
fashionable party at her own sumptuous Parisian home
she meets young Alfredo, who offers her his love and the
prospect of a different life. In the final moments of the
act, she contemplates his offer and the hopes it arouses
in her. Then, in a slightly hysterical cabaletta, she decides
to carry on living for pleasure; but – as we know – she
later changes her mind.
La traviata
Prelude to Act One
‘E strano ... Ah, fors’è lui … Sempre libera’
In Act One, Violetta’s position is very different. At a
È strano! È strano!
In core scolpiti ho quegli accenti!
Saria per me sventura un serio amore?
Che risolvi, o turbata anima mia?
Null’ uomo ancora t’accendeva.
O gioia!
Ch’io non conobbi,
esser amata amando!
E sdegnarla poss’io
Per l’aride follie del viver mio?
How strange it is ... how strange it is!
His words are engraved upon my senses!
Would real love destroy me? How would it change me?
How to think, when mind is in such a turmoil?
No man before aroused in me such feelings.
Oh joy!
To know
What love is and above all to share it!
And this joy is so precious
Beside the arid folly of my existence.
Ah fors’è lui che l’anima
Solinga ne’ tumulti,
Godea sovente pingere
De’ suoi colori occulti,
Lui, che modesto e vigile
All’egre soglie accese,
E nuova febbre ascese
Destandomi all’ amor!
A quell’amor, quell’amor ch’è palpito
Was this the man my dreaming heart
Chose from a sea of faces?
Pictured with gentle, smiling eyes,
Tinted with secret graces?
Since he maintained his silent watch
Sickness no more devours me;
Now desire overpowers me,
Bursting my life apart!
Ah, dreams of love, of our love enrapture me,
Dell’universo, dell’universo intero,
Misterïoso, misterioso, altero,
Croce, croce e delizia
Delizia al cor.
Breathing enchantment, enchantment over my being.
Mysterious power, mysterious yet all-seeing,
Cruel, cruel yet tender,
Breaking my heart.
A me fanciulla, un candido
E trepido desire
Quest’ effigio dolcissimo
Signor dell’avvenire.
Quando ne cieli il raggio
Di sua beltà vedea,
E tutta me pascea
Di quel divin error.
Sentia che amore, che amore è palpito
Dell’universo, dell’universo intero,
Misterïoso, misterïoso, altero,
Croce, croce e delizia,
Delizia al cor !
When as a shy and pure young girl,
Dreams of desire would stroke me,
He was the love child I caressed,
His was the kiss that woke me.
Out of the sky his beauty
Sprang into life before me;
Worshipped me and adored me,
Taking my love child’s part.
Love in a dream, in a dream enraptured me,
Breathing enchantment, enchantment over my being.
Mysterious power, mysterious yet all-seeing,
Cruel, cruel and tender,
Breaking my heart!
(Resta concentrata, scuotendosi)
(She stands, lost in thought, then rouses herself.)
Follie! Follie! Delirio vano è questo!
Povera donna, sola,
Abbandonata in questo
Popoloso deserto
Che appellano Parigi,
Che spero or più? Che far degg’io!
Di voluttà nei vortici, di voluttà perir!
What folly, what folly! Futile and vain delusion!
I am an outcast, orphaned,
Left in the gutter, abandoned
And alone in this vast
Teeming desert of a city.
What can I do? What can I live for?
For pleasure!
So let its vortex take me and let it drag me down!
Sempre libera degg’io
Folleggiar di gioia in gioia,
Vo’ che scorra il vever mio
Pei sentieri del piacer.
Nasca il giorno, o il giorno muoia,
Sempre lieta ne’ ritrovi,
A diletti sempre nuovi
Dee volare il mio pensier.
Let me freely taste forbidden
Fruits of pleasure; frenzy inflames me!
Let me enter every hidden
Door of sin and know its delight.
Little deaths, when your breath unchains me,
With a shudder, joy overflow me.
Each delight that takes and knows me
Takes me soaring up to the light!
Translations: © EMI Records 1953 (I puritani); Giuia K. Monti (Rigoletto); Diana Reed © 1976 The Decca Record
Company (Maria Stuarda); © David Pountney (La traviata)
Programme notes © George Hall 2007
About the performers
Natalie Dessay soprano
Born in Lyon in 1965, Natalie
Dessay grew up in Bordeaux. She
planned to become a dancer, but
later studied acting and singing
as a light soprano. She left the
Conservatoire at the age of 20
with a first prize. In 1989 France
launched its Concours des Voix
nouvelles. Dessay won second prize and was invited to
continue her studies at the Paris Opéra.
In 1992 she sang Olympia in Offenbach’s Tales of
Hoffmann for the first time at the Opéra Bastille in Paris
in a staging by Roman Polanski. The next year she was
invited to the Vienna Staatsoper and was subsequently
invited to join this theatre for a year. In 1993, with the
opening of the Opéra de Lyon, she again sang Olympia,
in a production by Louis Erlo. By 2001 she had sung this
role in eight different productions.
Dessay has sung Stravinsky’s Rossignol at the Théâtre du
Châtelet and in Berlin; Ophélie Hamlet, Grand Théâtre
of Geneva, Capitole de Toulouse, Théâtre du Châtelet,
The Royal Opera Covent Garden and Liceu, Barcelona;
Zerbinetta Ariadne auf Naxos, Metropolitan Opera,
New York and Opéra de Paris.
She has sung Amina La sonnambula for Opéra de
Lausanne, Opéra de Bordeaux, La Scala, Milan and
Santa Fe; title role Lucia di Lammermoor for Opéra de
Lyon and Chicago Opera. She has also performed
Massenet’s Manon in Geneva, Mélisande Pelléas et
Mélisande in Glasgow, Pamina Die Zauberflöte in Santa
Fe, Lucia Lucia di Lammermoor at the Opéra de Paris,
and Amina La sonnambula at the Opéra de Lyon and the
Théâtre des Champs Elysées. More recently, she has sung
Marie La Fille du Régiment at the Royal Opera House,
Covent Garden, and in Vienna; Manon at the Liceu,
Barcelona and Lucia at the Metropolitan Opera, New
Evelino Pidò conductor
Born in Turin, Evelino Pidò studied
at the Conservatory of his home
town and attended the
conducting master courses at the
Vienna Academy. His
international career began with
the opening of the Three Worlds
Festival in Melbourne with
Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, followed by guest
performances in Genoa, Venice, Bari and Palermo. At
the Opera House in Rome in 1989 he conducted the first
modern version of Rossini’s Zelmira. The same year he
toured extensively Australia with the ABC Symphony
In 2003 Pidò was invited by the Royal Opera House in
London to conduct Cinderella and in 2004 Lucie de
Lammermoor. He regularly collaborates with the Opéra
de Paris and with the Opéra de Lyon, where he will
conduct during the next three seasons.
Further engagements will include also the Metropolitan
in New York, Teatro Real in Madrid, Teatro Regio in Turin
with Medea and Teatro Comunale in Bologna with
Pidò has recently recorded Donizetti Elisir d’Amore for
Decca and Rossini with the Royal Philarmonic Orchestra
in Lyon.
Future plans include Lucia at the Metropolitan Opera
under James Levine, and in San Francisco, as well as
Manon for Chicago Opera.
About the performers
Concerto Köln
Concerto Köln was founded in 1985, and it was not long
before it had established a firm place amongst the
highest-ranking orchestras for historical performance
practice. Thoroughly-researched interpretations brought
to the stage with a new vivacity soon became the
trademark of Concerto Köln, quickly paving the way to
the most renowned concert halls and music festivals.
During extensive tours throughout the USA, South East
Asia, Canada, Latin America, Japan, Israel and most
countries in Europe, Concerto Köln has spread its
musical message and the name of its hometown
throughout the world.
Violin I
Barry Sargent
Stephan Sänger
Markus Hoffmann
Frauke Pöhl
Horst-Peter Steffen
Gabriele Steinfeld
Adrian Bleyer
Bettina von Dombois
Violin II
Jörg Buschhaus
Hedwig van der Linde
Antje Engel
Chiharu Abe
Anna von Raussendorff
Kristin Deeken
Saskia Moerenhout
Antje Sabinski
Wanda Visser
Gabrielle Kancachian
Jan Willem Vis
Stefan Schmidt
Cosima Bergk
Werner Matzke
Jan Kunkel
Martin Fritz
Sibylle Huntgeburth
Ulrike Schaar
Double Bass
Jean-Michel Forest
Mathias Beltinger
Michael Willens
Martin Sandhoff
Cordula Breuer
Daniela Lieb
Pier-Luigi Fabretti
Josep Domenech
Guy van Waas
Philippe Castejon
Concerto Köln has recently begun a close collaboration
with the label Berlin Classics and has made numerous
recordings with the Deutsche Grammophon, Harmonia
Mundi, Teldec, EMI-Virgin Classics and Capriccio. Many of
its recordings have been awarded prizes.
Under the artistic direction of Martin Sandhoff, Concerto
Köln enjoys working together with conductors including
René Jacobs, Marcus Creed, Evelino Pidò, Ivor Bolton,
David Stern, Daniel Reuss, Pierre Cao, Laurence
Equilbey and Emmanuelle Haïm.
Lorenzo Alpert
Yves Bertin
Ulrich Hübner
Renée Allen
Helen Mc Dougall
Jörg Schulteß
Marjan de Haar
Hannes Rux
Almut Rux
Raphael Vang
Kate Rockett
Uwe Haase
Bernhard Rainer
Timpan and percussion
Stefan Gawlick
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