Today, I will continue with my wish list for Mr. Jaroussky — songs and arias I would positively die for to hear him sing.
Item two on the list is: Rossini’s “Giusto Ciel” from “L’Assedio di Corinto.”
It is sung by a woman in the opera, you say? Since the mid-eighties or such, when in a production of German TV a male (!) German “Schlager”-star*) felt driven to sing “Ave Maria” this argument can be considered as obsolete.
* (Imagine Country crossed with the worst pop music ever, and you have an idea about the abyss which the term “Schlager” implies.)
Oh, not the Latin “Ave Maria,” Bach-Gounod or such, but Schubert’s “Ave Maria,” of course. Lyrics are as following:
“Ave Maria, Jungfrau mild, erhöre einer Jungfrau flehen….”
“Ave Maria, kind virgin, heed a virgin’s prayer…”
Imagine this sung by a MAN. In German TV. Hilarious.
(Mercifully, the line in question is already at time code 0:30, just in case you want to make sure.)
This diversion was necessary to show: You can sing anything!
The next argument: “Giusto Ciel” is supposed to be sung by a Mezzo. It takes that typical smooth metallic timbre of a mezzo to be a really good Pamira.
Well, DiDonato’s voice is about perfect for the aria, I have to say. But — it can be sung differently. Here is another version, sung by a soprano, the greatly underestimated Beverly Sills. The rendition is interesting to hear, and proves — at least to my ears — that the aria works as well with a rather small voice, and without a mezzo timbre.
And the last argument, “Rossini was fond of women, not of countertenors; countertenors with Rossini won’t work.”
Rossini mezzo arias sung by a man has been done before, by Mr. Cencic.
This one however is originally a breeches role. Cencic is surely not an Ewa Podles in timbre — but is it his fault? The more often I listen to it, the more I like his version.
Oh, and “L’Assedio di Corinto” has lovely duets too, even if they are not on top of my wish list:
Rossini : L’assedio di Corinto
L’ora fatal s’appressa… Giusto ciel, in tal periglio
L’ora fatal s’appressa.
Vincer giova, o perir.
Volte tranquille e tetre
asilo della morte,
Voi che ne proteggete,
e di vostr’ombre Ne coprite,
se mai de’ Greci il fato
Tradisse i sforzi lor…
Fra le vostre ruine,
Di sue vittime in cerca,
Il vile autor de’ nostri mali estremi,
Non vi trovi che sangue:
il vegga, e fremi!
Venite a questo sen,
Impetriamo dal Cielo
il suo favore.
Giusto Ciel! in tal periglio
più speranza Non ci avanza,
Che piangendo, che gemendo
Implorar la tua pietà, ecc
CORO DI DONNE
Giusto Ciel, la tua clemenza
ciel! ciel! ciel!
giusto ciel, Ponga termine al soffrir.
The fatal hour is at hand.
We must either win or die.
Tranquil and sombre arches,
refuge of death,
you who protect us
and shield us with your shadows,
if ever the
fate of the Greeks
should betray their endeavours…
…oh, cave in!
Amid your ruins, in search of his victims,
the vile author of our final misery
will find only blood:
let him see it and tremble!
Come to my arms,
let us implore God
for his grace.
Merciful Lord! In such peril
the only course,
the only hope which remains to us,
is weeping, lamenting
to beg Thy mercy, etc
Merciful God! may Thy clemency,
put an end to our suffering.
lyrics and translation from beverlysillsonline.com