Monday Morgan, thank you for letting me act as DJ for a week!
Leontyne Price, one of my favorite singers (and I hope one of yours, too) sings Death of Butterfly (from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly) as an encore. This video of a live performance has a glitch in it towards the end, but I think the rest of the performance makes the glitch well-worth overlooking.
Leontyne Price-Death of Butterfly. Rare private film.
Butterfly tells her child not to feel sorrow for his mother’s desertion but to keep a faint memory of his mother’s face. She bids him farewell.
You? You? You? Little idol of my heart. My Love, my love, flower of the lily and rose. Never know that, for you, for your innocent eyes, Butterfly is about to die…so that you may go away beyond the sea without being subject to remorse in later years for your mother’s desertion. Oh, you who have come down to me from high heaven, look well, well on your mother’s face, that you may keep a faint memory of it, look well! Little love, farewell! Farewell, my little love! Go and play.
Tuesday This simple Schubert song—”Seligkeit” or Bliss—is my favorite. I know there are more weighty, important, and profound lieder, but this one always makes me happy.
Seligkeit Performed by Dutch soprano Elly Ameling and pianist Joerg Demus
Joys without number Bloom in the halls of Heaven For angels and transfigured souls, As our fathers taught us. How I’d love to be there And rejoice eternally! A heavenly bride smiles Sweetly on everyone; Harp and psalter resound, And there’s dancing and singing. How I’d love to be there And rejoice eternally! I’d sooner stay here If Laura smiles on me With a look that says I’ve to grieve no more. Blissfully then with her I’d stay forever here!
It’s short—let’s do two! Schumann’s Widmung, also with Elly Ameling, and pianist Dalton Baldwin.
You my soul, you my heart, You my rapture, O you my pain, You my world in which I live, My heaven you, to which I aspire, O you my grave, into which My grief forever I’ve consigned! You are repose, you are peace, You are bestowed on me from heaven. Your love for me gives me my worth, Your eyes transfigure me in mine, You raise me lovingly above myself, My guardian angel, my better self!
Wednesday I drove my family crazy with this, not your parents’ Red Army Choir! “Bella Ciao” was a late 19th century Italian protest song that was taken up by Italian partisan/anti-fascists during WWII. But you only have to hear a few notes to know that these aren’t Italians doing the singing. The Red Army Choir sing what has become one of their calling cards. My favorite YouTube comment: “This is what happens when you eat pasta and drink vodka.”
One morning I woke up Ciao my Beautiful and I found the invader O partisan, take me away Ciao my Beautiful oh partisan, take me away That I'm feeling like dying And if I die as a partisan Ciao my Beautiful and if I die as a partisan You must bury me You will bury me over there, on the mountain Ciao my Beautiful You will bury me over there on the mountain Under the shadow of a wonderful flower All all the people passing by Ciao my Beautiful And all the people passing by Will say "What a wonderful flower!" And this is the flower of the partisan Ciao my Beautiful Dead for our freedom And this is the flower of the partisan Dead for our freedom
Thursday Chopin Nocturnes: How do you choose from these? Start with the first in B Flat Minor, and just keep listening. Tunisian-born French pianist Brigitte Engerer.
Friday Edith! I’ll always be grateful to my high school French teacher, who introduced our class to Edith Piaf by having us sing along with her recording of “La Vie en Rose.” Every Friday.
Saturday “Mom, maybe you should listen to something you don’t like so much.” My six-year-old son’s comment when I got lost taking him to a friend’s house. Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue—something I no longer listen to while driving. George Gershwin – Rhapsody in Blue – Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic (1976)
Sunday From Poulenc’s Banalities, because sometimes you just want to smoke, even though you shouldn’t.
“Hôtel“ Regine Crespin and John Wustman
My room is shaped like a cage The sun slips its arm through the window But I who want to smoke to make mirages I light my cigarette on daylight's fire I do not want to work, I want to smoke.