The Three Tenors

Monday, February 12, 2018

Overture to La forza del destino
Giuseppi Verdi
“Una furtiva lagrima” from L’elisir d’amore
Gaetano Donizetti

Nick Townsend

“Ecco ridente” from Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Gioachino Rossini

Shaw Thompson

“Dies Bildnes ist bezaubernd schön” from Die Zauberflöte
Wolfgang A. Mozart

Paul Thompson

“Bring Him Home” from Les Misérables
Claude-Michel Schönberg, Arr. Bob Krogstad

Shaw Thompson

“Lamento di Federico” from L’Arlesiana
Francesco Cilea

Paul Thompson

Be my Love” from The Toast of New Orleans
S. Cahn/N. Brodzsky

Nick Townsend

“La donna e mobile” from Rigoletto
Giuseppi Verdi

The Three Tenors



Preludio e Siciliana from Cavalleria Rusticana
Pietro Mascagni

Paul Thompson

“Libiamo” from La Traviata
Giuseppi Verdi

The Three Tenors

“Abbondanza” from The Most Happy Fella
Frank Loesser

The Three Tenors

“Nessun dorma” from Turando
Giacomo Puccini

The Three Tenors

“O sole mio”
Capurro/Di Capua/Mazzuchi, Arr. Giancarlo Chiaramello

The Three Tenors

“Singin’ in the Rain”
Arthur Freed/Nacio Herb Brown

The Three Tenors

“The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha

The Three Tenors

“New York, New York”
Candor/Ebb, Arr. Bob Cerulli

The Three Tenors


Program Notes

Overture to La Forza del Destino (The Force of Destiny)
Giuseppe Verdi, Composed 1861-1862, revised 1869

La Forza del Destino, the 22nd of Verdi’s operas, was completed in 1862 and debuted in St. Petersburg, Russia. Seven years later, the opera was revised, replacing the original modest prelude with this magnificent full scale overture.

“Una furtiva lagrima (A furtive tear)
Gaetano Donizetti, 1832

From the Italian opera L’elisir d’amore, Nemorino is the dim-witted yet kind-hearted tenor in love with Adina. To win her heart, he spends all his money on an “elixir of love” which turns out to be a bottle of cheap wine. Adina is informed her that Nemorino had given his life to the army just so he could buy more elixir, and upon hearing of his devotion, Adina realizes her affection for him. He is reassured that the “furtive tear” he saw in Adina’s eye was proof that she finally loved him.

“Ecco, ridente in cielo
Gioachino Rossini, 1816, The Barber of Seville

“Arise, my sweetest love, oh, come, my treasured one...” Count Almaviva serenades Rosina beneath her balcony window. Figaro the barber, who knows all the town’s secrets and scandals, arrives and explains to Almaviva that a doctor, Bartolo, intends to marry her. Figaro devises a plan: the count will disguise himself so that he may gain access to the girl. Everyone except Figaro is amazed by this turn of events.

“Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön” (“This image is enchantingly lovely”)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1791, The Magic Flute

In this aria, scene one of The Magic Flute, Prince Tamino sings to princess Pamina: “This image is enchantingly lovely, Like no eye has ever beheld! I feel it as this divine picture, Fills my heart with new emotion. I cannot name my feeling, Though I feel it burn like fire within me, Could this feeling be love? Yes! Yes! It is love alone!”

“Bring Him Home” from Les Misérables
Claude-Michel Schönberg, Arr. Bob Krogstad, 1980

Based on the Victor Hugo’s 1862 French novel of the same name, Claude-Michel Schönberg’s musical Les Misérables is one of the most successful musicals of all time. “Bring Him Home” is a poignant and lyrical song sung by the main character Jean Valjean. It is his prayer to God, and he asks for protection as they sleep the night before the French Revolution.

“Lamento di Federico” from L’arlesiana
Francesco Cilea, 1897

This aria from act two of the opera is sung by Federico (tenor), who is deeply in love with a girl, l’Arlesiana, from the opera’s title. However his family has arranged his marriage with Vivetta. When he has been left alone, Federico reads the letters of l’Arlesiana and ponders them with his broken heart.

“Be my Love” from The Toast of New Orleans
Sammy Cahn and Nicholas Brodzsky, 1950

From the movie The Toast of New Orleans, “Be my Love” was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1950 but lost out to “Mona Lisa.”

“La donna è mobile” (Woman is fickle)
Giuseppe Verdi, 1851

The Duke of Mantua’s canzone from act three of Verdi’s opera Rigoletto is a showcase for tenors. Before the opera’s first public performance (in Venice), the song was rehearsed under tight secrecy: a necessary precaution, as “La donna è mobile” proved to be incredibly catchy, and soon after the song’s first public performance, every gondolier in Venice was singing it.




“Preludio e Siciliana” from Cavalleria rusticana (rustic chivalry)
Pietro Mascagni and Ruggero Leoncavallo, 1890

This one act opera premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome. Cavalleria rusticana was a trend setter in many ways – it was the piece that kick started the verismo (truth) movement in opera, characterized by realistic, gritty depictions of everyday life, starring everyday people.

“Libiamo nelieti calici (“Let’s drink from the joyful cups”)
Giuseppe Verdi, 1853

This famous duet, performed in the first act of La traviata, is one of the best-known opera melodies. The song is a brindisi, a lively song that encourages the drinking of wine or other alcoholic beverages. “Let us drink from the goblets of joy adorned with beauty and the fleeting hour shall be adorned with pleasure.”

“Abbondanza” from The Most Happy Fella
Frank Loesser, 1956

The heart-warming story a love that blooms from tragedy. It is based on the play, They Knew What They Wanted by Sidney Howard. Tony is an aging Italian fruit grower, who courts waitress Rosabella through letters he writes while he is recovering from a car accident. The original Broadway production of The Most Happy Fella ran for 14 months and has enjoyed several revivals.

“Nessun dorma (“None shall sleep”)
Giacomo Puccini, 1926

From Turandot, “Nessun dorma” is one of the best-known tenor arias in all opera. It is sung by Calaf, il principe ignoto (the unknown prince), who falls in love at first sight with the beautiful, but cold, Princess Turandot. However, any man who wishes to wed Turandot must first answer her three riddles; if he fails, he will be beheaded. In the aria, the prince repeats Turandot’s order, “No man shall sleep!” and vows that his name
will not be discovered until he kisses her at daybreak.

“O sole mio
Capurro/Di Capua/Mazzucchi, Arr. Giancarlo Chiaramello, 1898

“O sole mio” is a globally known Neapolitan song written in 1898. It translates literally as “my sunshine.” The Italian song “O sole mio” is so beautiful that even major rock stars like Elvis Presley used the melody for his single “It’s Now or Never.”

“Singin’ in the Rain”
Arthur Freed/Nacio Herb Brown, 1931

The song “Singin’ In the Rain” is a centerpiece of the 1952 musical film of the same name. One of the most successful musicals ever filmed features Gene Kelly’s fabulous song-and-dance number performed in the rain. “I’m singing in the rain, Just singin’ in the rain, What a glorious feeling, I’m happy again, I’m laughing at clouds, so dark up above, The sun’s in my heart and I’m ready for love...”

“The Impossible Dream (The Quest)”
Mitch Leigh/Joe Darion, 1965

The most popular song from the Broadway musical Man of La Mancha and is also featured in the 1972 film of the same name starring Peter O’Toole.

“New York, New York”
John Kander/Fred Ebb, 1977

While many songs have been written about New York City, no song has captured the pride and elegance of the city quite like this one. “New York, New York” is the song from the Martin Scorsese film New York, New York. It was originally performed in the film by Liza Minnelli.


*Tonight’s program notes are derived from open-source peer collaborations.
Direction to additional commentary on these pieces available upon request.

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