I have to admit, this particular choice was the result of a Google search for funny opera arias. I do actually know of a fair few, but remembering them late on a Thursday night when the internet is very, very slow and a post has to be written by Friday morning is another matter.
I didn’t know this one, though, so I’m very glad I did that search, because it’s magnificently silly, and I would never have gone hunting for either Victor Herbert or Dame Kiri Te Kanawa otherwise.
First, let me say that Dame Kiri has the most amazing diction. Comic opera – any kind of comic singing – absolutely relies on people being able to understand the words, and you’d be surprised at how many recordings of this I found where I really couldn’t follow them. Even allowing for the fact that it’s after midnight, this is rather unfortunate, I think. With Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, you can hear every single world, and she is magnificently expressive with it. I will clearly have to start seeking out her performances in a more definite manner.
Then, there’s the song. As anyone who knows me will be aware, I do love a silly prima donna song, and this one is just brilliantly clever. And adorable. And maybe a little bit close to home. (Let’s just say that the prima donna in this song isn’t the only one who has been known to forget the name of the composer because the aria she personally gets to sing is ever so much more important in her twisted little brain…) I love all the show-off notes in it – which is what it’s for, of course – and her deadpan last line. Lovely stuff. Who said that opera was boring?
(next week: Wagner’s Ring Cycle…)