MYS SO Rehearsal Notes - 10.17.18
Last rehearsal (retreat)
What we did:
Sectionals (with U of O faculty)
Work on Ponchielli, Rossini, Berlioz & Tchaikovsky
Next rehearsal (10.20.18)
Jake Safirstein's piece (!!!)
Ponchielli (fast section)
Please read the short program notes below. They will inform your playing and practicing!
Gioachino Antonio Rossini - The Barber of Seville Overture (1816)
Gioachino Antonio Rossini was born in Pesaro, Italy in 1792 and died in Paris in 1868, at age 76. He is one of the best-known opera composers of all time. At 37 years old, with 39 operas under his belt and having achieved artistic and financial success, he retired. His compositional output after his retirement in 1829 is limited to a few non-operatic works.
The Barber of Seville is an “opera buffa” (comic opera), premiered in Rome in 1816 when the composer was only 24 years old. Today, it is considered one of the greatest masterpieces of comedy in music. The libretto is based on the first of three plays by French playwright Pierre Beaumarchais. 30 years earlier, Mozart premiered his opera The Marriage of Figaro based on the second of the three plays. It wasn’t until 1966 that French composer Darius Milhaud wrote an opera based on the third play, The Guilty Mother.
To modern audiences, the Overture from The Barber of Seville may be well known as the soundtrack for the Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes theatrical cartoon “Rabbit of Seville,” featuring Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd on stage at The Hollywood Bowl.
Amilcare Ponchielli - Dance of the Hours (1876)
Amilcare Ponchielli is best known for his opera La Gioconda. He was born near modern-day Cremona in 1834 and died in Milan in 1886 (aged 51). His early professional years were not easy, as he went through several small jobs in small cities and his first few operas were not successful. Things started to look up in 1872 (at age 38), when his opera I promessi sposi caught the attention of publisher G. Ricordi and Teatro alla Scala in Milan.
La Gioconda was premiered in 1876 at Teatro alla Scala to much success. Dance of the Hours is a ballet within the third act of the opera. On stage, principal characters gather for extravagant entertainment at Alvise’s palace. The different sections of the ballet represent the hours of dawn, morning, dusk and night.
Ponchielli’s Dance of the Hours has been used extensively outside of the opera and concert stages. Walt Disney used the piece in its entirety for the 1940 film Fantasia, featuring tutu-wearing hippos, ostriches, alligators and elephants.
Hector Berlioz - Roman Carnival Overture (1844)
Hector Berlioz was born in south-eastern France in 1803 and died in Paris in 1869. Regular MYS concert-goers will remember MYS Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique in June of 2017. This mind-bending work catapulted Berlioz into the world’s spotlight.
Eight years after the premiere of “Fantastique,” Berlioz premiered his first opera, Benvenuto Cellini, in 1838. The libretto is inspired by the memoirs of the Florentine sculptor of the same name, but the events in the plot are mostly fictional. The action is set in Rome during carnival.
Later, six years after the premiere of Benvenuto Cellini, Berlioz used material from this opera to create his stand-alone concert overture Le Carnaval Romaine. The lyrical introduction in this piece contains a famous solo for english horn, followed by a reprise of the melody featuring the viola section. This is followed by a brisk, joyful and energetic allegro vivace, featuring clever meter shifts and harmonic devices characteristic of Berlioz’s writing, and influenced by Italian dances such as the tarantella.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - Capriccio Italien (1880)
Italy, its music and its culture have served as creative sources for artists for generations. Just like Berlioz was inspired by carnival season in Rome 42 years prior, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the most famous of Russian composers, was also moved by carnival festivities in the Italian capital city when he visited with his brother Modest in 1880.
Out of this visit came Capriccio Italien, a stand-alone fantasy for orchestra, which makes use of the ensemble’s virtuosity and power to create a painting of Roman streets and piazzas during carnival. The piece begins with a trumpet call, similar to the one Tchaikovsky heard every morning from his hotel room, located near a military post. This gives way to a rather dark and capricious melody in the strings, which eventually subsides to catchy melodies inspired by street bands and popular dances, including, wait for it… a tarantella. As we would expect from a Tchaikovsky tour-de-force show-piece, things get fast and loud, then get faster and louder, and we’re treated to one of the composer’s most thrilling endings.
See you Saturday!
Dancing hippo from Disney's Fantasia