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May 21, 2000

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A Night at the Opera With Miss Saigon

Music from Miss Saigon and Part 2 of our Opera Theatre of St. Louis preview.

Selection Source Performer(s) Comments
Libiamo ne' lieti calici Great Moments from La Traviata Luciano Pavarotti, Cheryl Studer, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and Chorus cond. by James Levine "Let us drink from festive cups..." Alfredo, already smitten, toasts the courtesan (or, in contemporary parlance, "independent contractor") Violetta during a party at her house. The character of Violetta is loosely based on an actual Parisian courtesan, Alphonsine Duplessis who (like Violetta in the opera) died of consumption. The opera is based on the novel and play The Lady of the Camellias by Alexandre Dumas fils, who—like Alfredo in the opera—was in love with Duplessis
Quando mai, spietata sorte Radamisto (complete recording, 1994) Juliana Gonder (soprano) Freiburger Baroque Orchestra cond. by Nicholas McGeegan Radamisto was the first Handel opera published by the Royal Academy of Music, which was established in 1719 to promote Italian opera in London. Originally composed in 1720, Radamisto went through numerous revisions in subsequent years to meet the needs of particular singers. This recording is based on Handel's second version of December, 1720. It was a major hot ticket in London.
Di Provenza il mar, il suol Great Moments from La Traviata Juan Pons, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra cond. by James Levine Germont, Alfredo's father, pleads with him to return to the family home in Provence. Alfredo has received what he thinks is a kiss-off letter from Violetta. In reality, she wrote it at the urging of Germont, who is afraid Alfredo's affair with a woman of ailing repute will endanger his sister's pending marriage. This is the sort of smug middle-class morality that Dumas fils and the other Left Bank bohemians in 1850s Paris rejected.
The Morning of the Dragon Miss Saigon (London cast, 1988) Company In Ho Chi Minh City, marchers celebrate the third anniversary of the "reunification" of Vietnam.
The Last Night of the World My Broadway Sean McDermott, Kim Criswell From Miss Saigon; Kim (a Vietnamese bar hostess) and Chris (an American soldier) find love amid the chaos of Saigon.
Bui-Doi Miss Saigon (London cast, 1988) Peter Polycarpou John, a G.I. in Vietnam, addresses a conference on the plight of Vietnamese-American orphans.
Main Title East-West (OS 2000) Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra Score by Patrick Doyle, who has a long association with Kenneth Branagh, both on stage and screen (he composed the scores for Branagh's Henry V, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, and the upcoming Love's Labours Lost).
Farewell of a Slav East-West (OS 2000) Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra and Choir Doyle hails from Glasgow, Scotland, and has pursued a dual career as actor and composer.
The River East-West (OS 2000) Emanuel Ax (piano), Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra Directed by Regis Wargnier, East-West is based on a the true story of a Russian émigré who is convinced to return to Russia after World War II to help rebuild the country. What he finds in not the Socialist paradise he was led to expect.
Farewell Tango East-West (OS 2000) Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra  

Acronyms and other mysteries defined:

OC: Unless otherwise indicated, the Original Cast recording of a Broadway show, along with the date.

OS: Unless otherwise indicated, the Original Soundtrack recording of a film, TV show, etc.

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