I was thinking about this aria because seeing it performed within the actual opera it’s from made me like it more than I had previously. The last time I heard it was on this recital CD of Anna Netrebko’s. This is not a CD I listen to a lot. No particular reason – I just rarely find myself thinking about it, I suppose. Also the photos in the booklet make me roll my eyes a little. They verge on parody of ‘sexy recital CD photography!’ which I do not think was the intention.
But never mind that right now. Here is Netrebko singing the aria. I admit that the picture accompanying the audio (this is not my video) threw me for a second or two because I was hearing “oh my dear papa” and seeing “beefcake!” but once you get past that it’s fine. And Lauretta is telling her father how wonderful her young man is, so I suppose it makes sense. The young man we see before us is indeed lovely.
And here is Renata Scotto, singing ditto from the production I watched earlier.
Netrebko and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra take it a little slower – the sound is lush and leisurely and they’ve really hit the mark with the rhythm, in that the piece is in 6/8, but Netrebko and the orchestra (Claudio Abbado is the conductor) are drawing out and shaping the phrases such that the thing has movement but not in a way that makes you think of a dance or a waltz.
Scotto (Schicchi here is Gabriel Bacquier) has the advantage of being on a stage, so that the “si, si” at 0.30 or so is a response to her father’s look of “no!” – the aria gets to be the little bit of drama that it is. This is merely a knee-jerk personal reaction on my part, but when I first heard the audio alone of this the music seemed a little cloying. But when you watch it being performed, it’s evident that this is the point. The music is manipulating us just like Lauretta is sweet-talking her dad. We can decide to fall for it, as he does – it would be hard not to. But we know we’re being sweet-talked – Schicchi’s “she’s laying it on pretty thick” look at 1.19 is part of the fun. The fact that this section is identifiable as an ‘aria’ may also play into this effect. Most of the rest of this opera and the two accompanying it are not of the older ‘aria and recitative’ type. Maybe by making this sound like ‘an aria’ Puccini is gesturing at it being a little performance on Lauretta’s part?