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Saturday, October 8, 2022

Spectacular Italian night due at Saigon Opera House

By Bradley Winterton

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HCMC – On Friday, September 23, the HCMC Ballet, Symphony Orchestra and Opera (HBSO) will present guest artists and others in a concert of exclusively Italian music in the Saigon Opera House, beginning at 8:00 p.m.

In the 18th century and earlier Italy was the center of European music. Mozart, for instance, was sent there as an adolescent to perfect his composition technique. This situation continued into the 19th century when German music became increasingly influential. But by then Italy had become best known for opera, an art form it continued to dominate.

Thus in the coming concert there are four items by Verdi, three by Rossini, and two each by Puccini and Paganini, though Paganini was not an opera composer.

Thus, where Italy dominates, opera dominates as well. Out of the 14 items to be played in Saigon, 11 are from operas.

Rossini opens proceedings with an orchestral introduction (“sinfonia”) from his 1823 opera Semiramide. Semiramide was a queen of ancient Babylon, and Rossini composed this opera for his wife, a singer. Unlike many of Rossini’s operas, this is not a comic work.

This is followed by two famous arias from Verdi’s opera Rigoletto, Caro nome (dear name) and La Donna e mobile (women are fickle), sung by guest soloists Scilla Christiano and Manuel Amati, plus Dao Mac and others.

Manuel Amati returns after the intermission with an aria from Donizetti’s opera Elisir d’amore (the love potion), but before that come two orchestral items. The first is the Intermezzo from Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, to be followed by Paganini’s Cantabile in D Major for violin and orchestra, with Lucrezia Constanzo, another guest artist, as violin soloist.

Another orchestral piece follows Amati, the Tarantella for Double Bass by Bottesini, with another guest, Diego de Santiago Botta, as soloist.

Local soloists return with Pham Trang and Pham Duyen Huyen singing the love duet O soave fanciulla that ends Act One of Puccini’s La Boheme (the Bohemian girl). Pham Trang continues with the aria Di quella pira from Verdi’s Il Trovatore, in which Manrico expresses his determination to save his mother from being burned at the stake.

There follows a famous chorus from Mascagni’s opera Cavalleria Rusticana, Gli aranci olezzano (the oranges bloom in the fields). This is followed by a large-scale piece from Rossini’s 1818 opera Moses in Egypt, featuring five soloists, chorus and orchestra.

Paganini’s Variations for cello and orchestra follow, with guest artist Enrico Mignani playing the cello.

The final item will be another large-scale extract, with six soloists and chorus, this time from Rossini’s last opera, William Tell.

The conductor of this impressive event will be Paolo Olmi, with Vernocchi Vilma as Vocal Coach and Tran Nhat Minh as Choirmaster. Saigon is particularly happy to welcome the many visiting Italian artists to this program.

Ticket prices range from VND400,000 to VND750,000, with a concessionary price for students of VND80,000.

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