Macbeth

Remember the 2011 Norway attacks: Music for comfort and hope

Five years have passed since the two terrible sequential terrorist attacks in Norway on 22 July 2011 known as “The 2011 Norway attacks”, in Norway just as “22 July” (“22. juli”). The lone wolf terrorist killed 77 persons an injured over four times as many.

I haven’t really got anything to add to what’s been said before during the last five years. You come to a point were there’s no words left. It’s all been said before, and even better by others. The important thing is to remember those who died, to honour their legacy, and to never let this happen again. To anybody.

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All I can offer here is music. I strongly believe in the power of music. Music can express love, loss, longing, anger and despair. Music can comfort, help and heal. Music can give people strength and hope.

The days, weeks and months that followed the 2011 attacks really showed the world the strengths of Norwegian society. It also showed that music really can give comfort and hope to people. The terrible facts remain: 77 lives are gone forever, mostly young people. Just starting out on their life’s journey. That’s still so hard to comprehend, even today.

If music can give some comfort and hope to somebody out there struggling I offer five beautiful arias, the first three sung by Pavarotti and the last two sung by the countertenor David Hansen:

  • “Caro mio ben” by Giordani
  • “Che farò senza Euridice” from “Orfeo e Euridice” by Gluck
  • “O figli miei … Ah, la paterna mano” from “Macbeth# by Verdi
  • “Ombra mai fu” from “Serse” by Handel
  • “When I am laid in earth” from “Dido and Aeneas” by Purcell

The photo above is from the Oslo government quarter where the 2011 attacks started. The H block (the tallest building) was housing the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Justice and the Police (the lowest building is the Y block). The photo is taken in August 2011, under a month after the attacks.

Never forget the 2011 Norway attacks!

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This blog post no. 313 was first published 22-07-2016. Last revision 22-07-2016.

To sing, or not to sing … Pavarotti sings William Shakespeare

The whole world is celebrating the great William Shakespeare this week. On 23 April 2016 was exactly 400 years since the death of the greatest writer in the English language.

Shakespeare’s works have inspired many other artists in creating new works in almost every art form there is, including classical music, such as operas from composers like Berlioz, Rossini, Verdi and Gounod.

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Pavarotti recorded and/or performed two operas inspired by works by Shakespeare.

Verdi’s Macbeth has a libretto based on Shakespeare’s play of the same name. Pavarotti sang the role of Macduff in a complete studio recording from 1970 which is available on Decca.

Verdi’s Otello has a libretto based on Shakespeare’s play Othello. Pavarotti sang the title role only in complete concert performances in 1991 which is also available on Decca.

In addition I would like to mention Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi, an opera which has a libretto based on the story of Romeo and Juliet, the same story of Shakespeare’s play of the same name. Shakespeare based his play on another source, so Bellini’s opera isn’t strictly based on Shakespeare. At least three different complete live recordings from 1966-68 of this opera with Pavarotti singing the role of Tebaldo is available on various labels.

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And talking about Romeo and Juliet: Bernstein’s West Side Story was indeed inspired by Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. The Three Tenors sang “Maria”, “Tonight” and “America” from that musical on many of their concerts which are also available on their concert recordings on Decca and Warner.

I close this Pavarotti-Shakespeare investigation with the beautiful aria “O figli miei … Ah, la paterna mano” from Verdi’s Macbeth sung by Pavarotti in a concert performance.

Enjoy this Shakespeare jubilee year! There is so much more classical music inspired by the great Shakespeare for you to explore and enjoy! 🙂

This blog post no. 312 was first published 24-04-2016. Last revision 26-04-2016.

Pavarotti in Verdi’s Macbeth

The Verdi opera Macbeth is one of the operas Pavarotti recorded but never performed on stage. Pavarotti sang the role of Macduff in a 1970 studio recording that was released by Decca on LP in 1971. This recording is now available on Decca CD, download and streaming.

The great aria for Macduff in this opera is “O figli miei… Ah, la paterna mano'”. This aria is so beautiful and moving! Read the lyrics of this aria in the first and last video below! Pavarotti’s performances of this aria is so beautiful and moving too!

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Pavarotti often sang this aria in concerts. Many live versions of this aria is available on Pavarotti’s live albums. Besides the 1970 studio recording Pavarotti also recorded this aria in 1968 for his solo studio album “Arias by Verdi & Donizetti”. Needless to say this aria appears on many Pavarotti compilation albums.

Here are three samples of Pavarotti in this aria. First video is the 1970 studio recording. The last two videos are live performances from Royal Albert Hall in London in 1982 and 1995.

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This post was first published 09-10-2014. Last revision 09-10-2014.