“Ô Dieu! que de bijoux”, ària de Margherite de Faust C. Gounod (1818 – 1893)
“Cançó a la lluna”, ària de Rusalka A. Dvorak (1841 – 1904)
“Liebestraüme” (Somni d’amor), piano sol F. Liszt (1811 – 1886)
“Ave Maria”, Cavalleria Rusticana P. Mascagni (1863 – 1945)
“Stridono lassù” ària de Nedda d’I Pagliacci R. Leoncavallo (1857 – 1919)
“Chi il bel sogno di Doretta”, La Rondine G. Puccini (1858 – 1924)
“Ària de Iolanta”, de Iolanta. P.I. Txaikovski (1840 – 1893)
“Isoldes Liebestod”, de Tristany i Isolda
(adaptació per a piano sol F. Liszt) R. Wagner (1813 – 1883)
“Meine lippen sie küssen so heiss”, ària de Giuditta F. Lehar (1870 – 1948)
“Canción de Marinela” de La Cancion del olvido J. Serrano (1873 – 1941)
“Romanza de las Carceleras” de Las Hijas del Zebedeo R. Chapí (1851 – 1909)
Bàrbara Duran Bordoy
Musicologist and writer
A night dedicated to a lyrical repertoire is a musical festival, and it must be said that the concept of “lyrical gala” continues to enjoy an unrivalled reputation, solid proof that many listeners have a soft spot for vocal music. Deep down in the popular culture, above all, in the Latin countries in the Mediterranean region, there is an enduring simple and true love for the song, and this is abundantly clear in their aesthetic perspective of life.
The power of voice is a real enigma, which is plain to see in a repertoire such as the one we'll see today, where songs are performed one after another, unravelling different eras, styles and methods of singing while conserving the charm that voice has, the ability to convey messages and reflect emotions encrypted in the unique timbre of the human voice, as well as its ability to relate all kinds of stories, whether tragic, comic, or wonderful, picture-perfectly capturing moments of a lifetime. Each and every one of us hears it and reacts differently. Lyrical galas are a box full of surprises: each passage of an aria hits us all on a personal and non-transferable level. Each song offers the individual listener an intimation of what they have experienced or dreamed about, or even of what they have left behind in their life.
The highlight of today’s programme is, without a doubt, the breathless journey through a selection of pieces that display extraordinary difficulty, as they all perfectly employ a great variety of interpretative and vocal resources. Today's recital combines the demands of the verismo operatic style, the lightness of Viennese operetta with the seriousness of the French grand opéra, with the addition of the traditional vibrant colour of the Nordic countries. The performance is also particularly challenging from the pianist’s point of view who, in the middle of the vocal pieces, will perform one of Franz Liszt’s most revered compositions, “Liebesträume”, in addition to an adaptation of perhaps the only modern operatic trend that was missing from the programme: Wagner, whose presence will be duly noted through a piano solo of the beautiful "Liebestod," the piano arrangement for which was written by Liszt.
“The Jewel Song” is sung by Marguerite, the female protagonist of Faust by Charles Gounod, an opera which is not performed so often nowadays; being a grand opéra—requiring a large stage, a ballet and choirs, which are usually accompanied by a hefty price tag—makes it rather challenging to perform as part of a contemporary programme. This aria, however, continues to be one of its most well-remembered passages.
"Song to the Moon" is a song about a captivating beauty that compels us to take notice of the genius of Czech composer Antonín Dvořák's melodic interpretation, as well as his propensity for creating a timbric atmosphere similar to that of an enchanted forest, leading us far away to an eerie and evocative world.
"Ave Maria," which follows a long tradition of songs that take the form of intimate prayer, is often sang by a female protagonist and refers to a repertoire of bel canto songs that may seem innocent but actually requires great communicative strength and effort from the performer for it to not fall by the wayside. From Mascagni's opera Cavalleria Rusticana, this piece is linked, both chronologically and stylistically, to the following aria, "Stridono lassù" from the opera Pagliacci. Leoncavallo, the author of the latter, was just a young man when he witnessed the success of Cavalleria Rusticana, which left a significant impact on him and inspired him to write his own opera featuring similar characteristics in the verismo style and in a single act.
Puccini is one of the last greats of Italian opera and is most celebrated for his daring storylines; La rondine, however, was his attempt at Viennese operetta, following in the wake of the release of La fanciulla del West in Vienna. The aria “Chi il bel sogno di Doretta” is a highlight, exuding exquisite delicacy and a beauty that is hard to come by elsewhere, even though Puccini was never quite contented with the operetta as a whole. Three of Puccini's main distinguishing features as a composer are on full display in this piece: an impeccable melodic construction, ingenuity and, most importantly, his ability to invoke and create various emotional states.
Franz Lehár was one of the last of a generation of masters of Viennese operetta. His music—a brilliant and very personal mix—came about as a result of his German, Czech and Hungarian ancestry. “Meine Lippen, sie küssen so heiß” is sung by a temperamental and bewitching Giuditta when she appears on stage as a night club dancer in a North African city.
Iolanta, the eponymous princess at the centre of this opera by Tchaikovsky, is enveloped by the charm of Russian music. Blind from birth, she is unaware of her condition as her father has always protected her, and this delightful and simple aria demonstrates her vulnerability.
If you wished to come full circle with the vocal genres, all that would be missing is a nod to Spanish zarzuela, one of the country’s most beloved styles to this day, one that features a light-hearted and jocular repertoire which condenses tradition and popularity, as well as a long history with its roots in Spanish baroque music. So, to conclude this summer gala of vocal music, what better way than with “Canción de Marianela” by José Serrano and “Romanza de las carceleras” by Ruperto Capí, two jewels in the crown of Spanish zarzuela.
Born in Moldova, Valentina Naforniţa came from humble beginnings to become one of the most in-demand sopranos of her generation. Shortly after earning her degree in Opera at the National University of Music in Bucharest, Romania, Ms. Naforniţa won the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World launching her into the international opera scene. As a young member of the Wiener Staatsoper ensemble, she was afforded the perfect opportunity to hone her craft as she made several notable debuts. Papagena in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte marked her first of many performances which came to include Musetta (La bohème), Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Norina (Don Pasquale), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), Adina (L’elisir d’amore), Najade (Ariadne auf Naxos), Clorinda (La Cenerentola), Oscar (Un ballo in maschera), and Ilia (Idomeneo). She was also honored with opening the historic Wiener Staatsoper Ball first in 2013 and again in 2018, cementing her strong relationship with the house. In the summer of 2014, Ms. Naforniţa made the first of many decisive international debuts at the Salzburger Festspiele as Zerlina (Don Giovanni), where she was hailed as “the highlight of the show” (Bachtrack). Shortly after she made her debut in France at the Théâtre Champs-Elysées, followed by appearances at Opéra national de Paris, Opéra de Lausanne, and Staatsoper Hamburg.
She begins her 2019/20 season at the Wiener Staatsoper with a role debut as Helena in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream in a new production by Franco-British director Irina Brook. This appearance is followed by a reprisal of Norina's role in Don Pasquale, also at the Wiener Staatsoper and once again in an Irina Brook production, which Naforniţa debuted in 2015. More Donizetti is next as she performs one of her signature roles, Adina in L’elisir d’amore, at the Nationaltheater Mannheim - a part she also plays at the Opéra de Lausanne towards the end of her season. She returns to the Wiener Staatsoper for her second role debut of the season as Irina in Tri Sestri and Susanna in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro. On the concert stage, she performs in a gala concert at the Mariinsky Theatre, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony at the DR Koncerthuset in Copenhagen, and she ends her season at the Wiener Staatsoper with the Galakonzert des Jungen Ensembles in June.
Additional highlights from her recent seasons include Fiordiligi in a new production of Cosi fan tutte at Opéra de Lausanne, Gilda in Rigoletto at Teatro alla Scala and the Bayerische Staatsoper, the title role in Iolanta and Adina in L’elisir d’amore at the Opéra de Paris, Ilia in Idomeneo at the Wiener Staatsoper, Oscar in Un ballo in maschera at the Staatsoper Berlin, Lisa in La Sonnambula at the Wiener Staatsoper, Adina in L’elisir d’amore at the Staatsoper Hamburg, Musetta in La bohème at the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome, Norina in Don Pasquale at the Liceu Barcelona, a recital with Roger Vignoles at the Edinburgh International Festival, Sophie in Werther at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées with Juan Diego Florez in the title role and Joyce DiDonato as Charlotte, Musetta with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, her debut recital at Wiener Musikverein, and an appearance at the AIDS Operngala in Bonn and Düsseldorf. She also went on an extensive tour of China with the BBC Concert Orchestra, which was televised.
She has worked with such leading conductors as Bertrand de Billy, Guillermo Garcia Calvo, Karel Mark Chichon, Gustavo Dudamel, Ádám Fischer, Louis Langrée, Jesús López-Cobos, Cristian Mandeal, Ingo Metzmacher, Kazushi Ono, Evelino Pidò, Peter Schneider, Franz Welser-Möst, Simone Young and Massimo Zanetti. Her debut album was released on January 10th, 2020
“The pianist Yoan Héreau is not a mere accompanist, but rather a real partner gliding with grace from one musical style to another” www.forumopera.com
After full piano studies at the Conservatoires of Nantes, Boulogne-Billancourt and Lille, Yoan Héreau undertakes three Masters diplomas in Vocal Accompaniment, Vocal Coaching and Chamber Music at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris.
He performs regularly as a soloist and as a chamber musician. He is particularly appraised as a recital partner for singers.
Last season was marked by his first disc for the record label Naïve entitled “Rencontre” with Portuguese soprano Raquel Camarinha, which received excellent appraisal by the critic.
This season he will release for the record label Mirare Chopin’s complete Songs with Raquel Camarinha and Schubert’s Winterreise with barytone Edwin Crossley-Mercer.
His versallity as a pianist leads him to collaborate with conductors such as Ottavio Dantone, Philippe Jordan, Marc Minkowski, Daniel Harding, Philippe Herreweghe, Matthias Pintscher, Donato Renzetti, in France (Opéra Bastille, Opéra Garnier, Philharmonie de Paris, Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Théâtre du Châtelet) and abroad (Czech Republic, Germany, China, Lituania, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, USA).
He develops a keen interest in contemporary music, and he participates actively in several opera premieres: Pascal Dusapin’s Macbeth Underworld, Francesco Filidei’s Giordano Bruno, Sebastian Rivas’s Aliados, Kaija Saariaho’s La Passion de Simone (chamber version), Oscar Bianchi’s Thanks to my eyes, Noel Lee’s Paraboles.
He is since 2019 the artistic director of the festival Les Musicales de Saint-Maurice in Clohars-Carnoët (France).
He is currently an assistant teacher for the German repertoire class at the Conservatoire de Paris.