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Archive for the ‘Italian Music’ Category

It was in 1950 that then director of NBC’s opera programming, Peter Herman Adler,  commissioned composer Gian-Carlo Menotti (1911 – 2007) to compose the first ever opera for the American television audience. This was no easy task and it is one of the many credits due to the exceptional talent of Menotti that he made the decision to compose an opera for the child, for the faiths, in all of us.

First Broadcast on NBC, Christmas Eve 1951, the opera has become not just a holiday favorite, but one of the most often performed operas in the world. It is, in the canon of opera, a very short piece of only fifty minutes in length.

Adoration_of_the_Magi_Hieronymus_Bosch_autograph_ca._1470–75

Bosch, Adoration of the Magi

Menotti was inspired, it is said, by Bosch’s “The Adoration of the Magi” which is shown in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Menotti wrote about his moment of deepest inspiration:

One November afternoon as I was walking rather gloomily through the rooms of the Metropolitan Museum, I chanced to stop in front of the Adoration of the Kings by Hieronymus Bosch, and as I was looking at it, suddenly I heard again, coming from the distant blue hills, the weird song of the Three Kings. I then realized they had come back to me and had brought me a gift.

I clearly recall holidays of the past when our family would gather to watch this always magical story unfold before us. The story is timeless; a widow with a troubled crippled child is visited by three wealthy night visitors as they make their way  following a certain star in the East. Everyone is forever changed by the time they share within the walls of a humble shelter.

The lessons this opera teaches are numerous; humility, generosity, love, community and faith are but a few. The story encompasses so many of the basic tenants of all faiths and, in those terms, is a gift for all.

amahl1965

 

A link to the entire digital conversion of that 1951 performance, including an introduction by the composer himself is provided below.

As we experience yet another holiday season, it is my hope that this gorgeous music, the story of forgiveness and miracles will further enrich your season, regardless of location, faithful belief or language.

Take the time to experience this incredible story. It’s only fifty minutes long – and it may change your life.

Enjoy.

To view the full 1951 program, click on the photo below: 

1951 Amahl and the Night Visitors

 

For those more musically inclined, the link below provides the entire score of the opera.

Gian Carlo Menotti   

Amahl and the Night Visitors 

An Opera in One Act

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An Evening at San Vidal

An Evening at San Vidal

It seems a simple thing, to draw a bow cross the strings of a cello. Yet, in Venice’s church of San Vidal the long low note reverberates, a deep tone that shakes the very foundation of the church, causes goosebumps and, often, tears.

A concert by Interpreti Veneziani has begun.

Every time I return to Venice, on either my first of second night in the city, I go to San Vidal. If the concert is sold out, I simply stand outside the church, within an enwrapping Venetian shadow, and listen to the music inhabit the air, the space around me. If I am lucky enough to find a ticket and seat in the church, it is then that the true magic happens.

On an evening in mid-October, I sat quietly as the lights dimmed. The spot lights on the performers brightened. The cellist for the group took center stage. The effect of his placing the bow on the strings of his instrument, then drawing the bow across one single string, brought tears to my eyes. It was as if time moved instantaneously back to the Renaissance and I was a ghost of some future, a spirit who sensed the mysterious effect of great music on the human soul.

Click on the link below and enjoy a movement from one of Vivaldi’s lesser known works, this from his Concerto per Archi in Do Maggiore.

1-03 Concerto per archi in Do maggio

If you are ever in Venice, GO. Concerts are performed nearly every night by the Interpreti Veneziani. Of the many options available to visitors for evening concerts in the city, I can only recommend this one. Enjoy. Experience. Feel.

Interpreti Veneziani

IF YOU GO:

Interpreti Veneziani

San Marco, 2862 / B  30124 Venice, Italy

Tel: +39.041.275.0223

WEB: www.interpretiveveneziani.com

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