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Mezzo-soprano/Contralto
Rossini, Gioachino: Tancredi
Act 1: Recitative, Cavatina and Cabaletta, “O patria!...Tu che accendi questo core…Di tanti palpiti” (Tancredi)

Roger Pines, Dramaturg, Lyric Opera of Chicago
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Aria Talk6/1/2005

Editor's Note: Aria Talk focuses not on the tried-and-true pieces you undoubtedly already know, but on somewhat off-the-beaten-track arias. The hope is that this music will prove a refreshing musical and interpretive change not only for you, the performer, but also for those hearing you in auditions.
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If you have a truly meaty, imposing lower octave that you can color at will and if you can combine that with excellent agility, the heroic roles of Rossini may be just your ticket. Tancredi’s opening music is just as exciting as the better known scena of Arsace in the same composer’s Semiramide and it will no doubt seem less intimidating, thanks to the more easily manageable coloratura throughout.

In ninth-century Syracuse, the factions of the noblemen Orbazzano and Argirio have engaged in a civil war, which is now over. Argirio is planning to marry his daughter Amenaide to Orbazzano; she’s distressed because she loves Tancredi, who is Orbazzano’s enemy and has been living in exile. Tancredi secretly returns to Syracuse. In his recitative, he expresses his joy at being home once more. He thinks of Amenaide and hopes to either earn her love or die. He then expresses another hope: that she’ll forgive him for causing her pain. He vows that they’ll see each other, “and I will thrive on your beautiful eyes.”

The recitative should begin with the utmost steadiness, dignity and poise, although it does turn more excitingly dramatic when Tancredi thinks of Amenaide and his wish to be worthy of her. The cavatina is surprisingly brief, but you’ll need to bring exceptional grace to its filigree. “Di tanti palpiti,” not at all the bel canto trouser role’s typical vaulting and aggressive cabaletta, is actually a coolly intoxicating melody in itself. One of the greatest popular hits of Rossini’s career, it presents a fabulous opportunity for dazzlingly imaginative ornamentation.

Recording: Ewa Podles in complete recording, Naxos #660037; Cecilia Bartoli, “Rossini Arias,” Decca #425430
Score: Ricordi (Philip Gossett’s critical edition) Timing: 4:15
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