The Lyric Stage May 30 - Arrigo Boito
Arrigo Boito was the librettist whose adaptation of Shakespeare for Verdi's Otello and Falstaff help make them the composer's best operas. Verdi and Boito were the rare combination when the words were as good as the music, on a par with Da Ponte and Mozart, and Hoffmanstahl and Richard Strauss. Bryn Terfel and Sherril Milnes each sing an aria from those operas. But Boito was a fine composer in his own right whose Mefistofele, alternately thunderous and beautifully intimate, holds stage today.
We have examples of both that thunder and intimacy with Renata Tebaldi and Mario Del Monaco,who are featured, along with Cesare Siepi, in the prologue to Mefistofele and the Death of Marguerita from Act 3 of Mefistofele. Tullio Serafin conducts.
One of my most treasured operatic moments came as chorus member in the New York City Opera revival of Mefistofele in 1969, at the moment in the first performance when, after the full bodied surround sound climax of the prologue (trumpets were in the balcony), the New York State Theater audience sat in a suspended silence and then burst into a prolonged applause, a very moving fusion of music, performers and audience into a spiritual whole.