Puccini’s Women

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Saturday, November 01, 2014

Maria Callas with co-stars Tito Gobbi (left) and Renato Cioni after her triumphant performance in 'Tosca,' at the Royal Opera House in 1965. Maria Callas with co-stars Tito Gobbi (left) and Renato Cioni after her triumphant performance in 'Tosca,' at the Royal Opera House in 1965. (Wesley/Getty Images)

Giacomo Puccini was known for his love of women both on and off stage. His roles for sopranos are some of the most emotionally compelling in their repertoire. Host Debbie Voigt traces the evolution of Puccini’s operatic heroines, from the vulnerable “little women” of his early operas, to the strong and even fearsome females of his operas written toward the end of his life.

Artists including Mirella Freni, Angela Gheorghiu, Carol Neblett, Eleanor Steber and others are heard in excerpts from eight of Puccini’s most popular operas. This episode also features recordings by two opera legends:  Geraldine Farrar and Bidú Sayão.

Program playlist (all by Puccini):

Manon Lescaut: “In quelle trine morbide”
Montserrat Caballé, soprano
New Philharmonia Orchestra
Bruno Bartoletti, conductor
EMI Classics CMS 7 64852-2

Manon Lescaut: “Sola, perduta, abbandonata”
Mirella Freni, soprano
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
James Levine, conductor
London 440 200-2

La bohème: “Mi chiamano Mimì” 
Renata Tebaldi, soprano
Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia 
Tullio Serafin, conductor
London 421 301-2

La bohème: “O soave fanciulla”
Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia 
Tullio Serafin, conductor
Renata Tebaldi, soprano
Carlo Bergonzi, tenor
London 421 301-2

Tosca: “Vissi d’arte”
Maria Callas, soprano
Orchestra Teatro alla Scala di Milano
Victor de Sabata, conductor
EMI Classics 5 56304 2

Madama Butterfly: “Un bel di”
Eleanor Steber, soprano
Metropolitan Opera
Max Rudolf, conductor
Sony Classical MH2K 62765

Madama Butterfly: “Che tua madre”
Geraldine Farrar, soprano
Uncredited Orchestra & conductor
Nimbus Records NZ7857

Fanciulla del West: “Basta! Quando per voi”
Carol Neblett, soprano
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
Zubin Mehta, conductor
DG 419 640-2

Suor Angelica: “Senza mamma”
Victoria de los Angeles, soprano
Orchestra del Teatro dell’Opera di Roma
Gabriele Santini, conductor
EMI Classics 5 65579 2

Gianni Schicchi: “O mio babbino caro”
Bidú Sayão, soprano
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Pietro Cimara, conductor
Sony Classical MHK 63221

La Rondine: “Il sogno di Doretta”
Angela Gheorghiu, soprano
London Symphony Ochestra
Antonio Pappano, conductor
EMI Classics 5 56338 2

Turandot: “Quel nome” ... “Tu che di gel sei centa”
Birgit Nilsson, soprano
Renata Scotto, soprano
Coro e Orchestra del Teatro dell’Opera di Roma
Francesco Molinari-Pradelli conductor
EMI CDMB 7 69327 2

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