Saturday, 13 August 2016


Mikhail Glinka, c. 1840
Today's Quote of the Day comes to us from 19th century composer and trailblazer of Russian opera and ballet Mikhail Glinka, as he reflects on the premiere production of Bel Cantist composer Vincenzo Bellini’s 1831 opera semiseria, La Sonnambula ("The Sleepwalker"):
“…[in] the second act the singers themselves wept and carried the audience along with them.”

-Russian composer Mikhail Glinka
It is easy to see why this influential Russian icon of classical music, duly revered as a master musician found himself and his peers bowled over by Bellini’s pastoral masterpiece. An instant success at it’s March 6th premiere in 1831, La Sonnambula continues to draw both high praise and invoke unbridled displays of emotion even today – most notably during the opera’s second act which features the tender aria Ah! non credea mirarti, Sì presto estinto, o fiore ("I did not believe you would fade so soon, oh flower") as sung by the sleepwalker herself, Amina.
So beloved was Amina’s impassioned display of sorrow, the composer Bellini himself felt moved to have prepared for his own tombstone the doleful lyrics – the inscription can be viewed at his gravesite in Sicily at the Catania Cathedral.

Ah! Non Credea Mirarti... certainly finds itself at the top of my list of most beautiful arias of all time.

Enjoy below my personal favorite rendition of the piece, as sung by mezzo-soprano[1] Cecilia Bartoli, featuring the Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez:

[1] Whilst the role of Amina was originally created for a soprano (the original Amina, Giuditta Pasta was described by some as possessing that of a soprano sfogato voice) and has through posterity been recorded numerous times by the soprano voice, it is in the 2010 recording by Bartoli, a leading mezzo-soprano, that I find myself most moved. The recording above is from Bartoli’s exquisite album “Sospiri” (literally, “sighs”) in which the dynamic diva adds the subtle, yet strikingly effective affect to tenderize an already flawless gem.

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