First off, watch this video before you read this, as there are subtitles on the screen so you'll know what's happening!
This is one my favorite arias in the repertoire.
It's like chocolate. It's decadent and creamy and wonderful. I know it's weird hearing someone talk about music like it's food, but sometimes there's no other way to describe it! The chords that Puccini wrote are so beautiful and heavy, in a way, that the most similar comparison is to food. And this opera is one of his best. I mean, it doesn't get any better than this. I could talk about "Mi chiamano Mimi" for hours on end, but I'll keep it to what's relevant to us now: Spring.
La bohème means "The Bohemians" and it's about a group of (literally, much of the show) starving artists who find and lose love. Although it sounds incredibly cheesy, it's not, for the simple fact that Puccini makes his characters wonderful and fun and deeply human. Mimì is a young woman who comes to her neighbor Rodolfo when her candle has blown out and she has no more matches. After he lights her candle, she realizes that she has lost her key in his apartment. After helping her look for it, Rodolfo realizes he wants to spend more time with her, and pockets the key once he finds it so they can get to know each other a bit longer. (Cute, right?)
As they talk, they each sing an aria and we quickly learn that Mimì loves the spring and its warmth. It seems sweet at the beginning, but as the show goes on, it becomes clear that Mimì has consumption. Consumption is an illness that leaves you cold all the time - the warmth isn't simply nice, it's life-saving. Mimì loves the spring as no other character can. She sings of the sun with adoration. You know that feeling of stepping in a hot bath after being in the snow all day? Imagine that times a thousand.
Listen to the way Puccini sets the section where she talks about the sun. All of a sudden, the entire orchestra is working in tandem as Mimì lets the idea of being warm spread through her. Puccini also sets the entire aria conversationally; notice the way Mimì repeats herself because she doesn't know what else to say, or the fact that she, embarrassed, says she doesn't know how to talk about herself after she spent the whole aria doing so!
This aria is truly a masterpiece, and perfectly appropriate for today, the first day of spring!
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE...
Last week on my Instagram stories, I asked if you wanted to know what I listened to besides opera. I think people get the impression that because I'm an opera singer, I only listen to classical music. I definitely love classical music, and it has a time and place, but I've got a whole host of other albums on my Spotify that do not fall into that genre.
Many of my musical tastes are inspired by my dad. He loves music and introduced us to his favorites when we were children. Now I appreciate my taste in music; growing up, I was the odd one out who never listened to the top 40 and probably couldn't have told you what the Backstreet Boys' newest song was. That doesn't exactly line you up for popularity as an 8-year-old.
When I got to college, I quickly learned that having a unique taste in music was interesting.To be fair, I was surrounded by other opera singers, so we all had eclectic playlists, but it was still fun to be able to mix in some oldies with more modern music.
My favorite genres are probably jazz and rock/soft rock. Jazz appeals to the very classic part of me that enjoys the idea of swing-dancing with my husband while a big band plays. The image of that is so lovely, and I love the music that accompanies it. Rock is just awesome to listen to while you're driving along on a sunny day. So without further ado, here's a list of a few of my favorite singers and bands in no particular order:
1. Frank Sinatra - I mean, honestly. All of the best songs that were written during his time - he sang them. And he sang them in the most Frank Sinatra way. He knew how to swing, and dancing to his recordings is a ton of fun. He's really just unbeatable.
2. Seals and Crofts - Seals and Crofts are so interesting. Their songs really are the perfect music to accompany a day at the beach. The first time I heard their voices, I thought they sounded funny, but as I listened to their album more and more, I found that I couldn't stop.
3. Benny Goodman - You know his music even if you don't know his music. Google "Sing, Sing, Sing" and you'll hear one of the recordings that he's most known for. He was a jazz clarinetist and his big band was one of the most revered of the 1930's. He was the man known as the "King of Swing."
4. Chicago - "Saturday in the Park"? "25 or 6 to 4"? Are you kidding me? Those songs are the epitome of awesome. I used to listen to them on the way to high school in the morning, and now they feel interconnected to my high school experience.
5. Ella Fitzgerald - Ella is stunning. She is truly one of those singers who makes you feel good every time you listen to her. She can scat like no other and her voice is delectable. Check out her live albums - you'll get to know her personality and love her even more.
6. Blood, Sweat, and Tears - David Clayton-Thomas' voice is so great. He sounds like a grumpy old man singing rock at you. Why is that attractive? I honestly couldn't tell you, but it works for him. And the instrumentation in their songs is totally different from what you're expecting.
7. Mel Torme - Known as the velvet frog, Mel Torme lives up to his name. I think my favorite rendition of his is "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square." It's soft and romantic, and you can luxuriate in the tone of his voice.
8. Doobie Brothers - I saw this band live a few months ago. As you may have guessed, I was the youngest person in the audience. And they rocked it. They still had as much energy as they did when they were at the top of their game in the 1970's. They've got a unique sound and they utilize rhythms in a way that most rock bands don't.
9. Bill Evans - He's just one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time. No biggie.
10. Nat King Cole - I love Nat King Cole. Whenever he sings, it sounds like he's smiling. I think I first heard his rendition of "L-O-V-E" in the remake of "The Parent Trap," and after I heard it, I begged my parents to let me buy a Nat King Cole album. The fact that Nat King Cole was a pianist before he was a singer gives him a unique grasp on musicality, and he's got a special something that is really fun to listen to.
Special Mention: James Taylor - He doesn't really fit into jazz or rock, but James Taylor is one of my favorites. His music pulls at the heartstrings and doesn't let go.
Who are your favorite singers and bands? What genres do you enjoy listening to? I'm so curious! Let me know in the comments below.
There is something amazing about the Star Spangled Banner.
The drama starts in its range - the song spans an octave and a half. It continues with its lyrics, written by Francis Scott Key as he witnessed Fort McHenry being bombarded in the War of 1812. The lyrics look like this:
O say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
I hadn't known previously that the poem ended in a question mark, and all of a sudden the American anthem became so much more potent to me. This was a man asking if the flag still stood, if the symbol of our freedom still waved in the air, not declaring it. Now, in our time, the onus is on us as a people to make sure that our flag still represents all that we stand for.
When I sang the national anthem, I was asked if I wanted accompaniment. I responded that I would rather sing a capella. The reason is this: the words of the Star Spangled Banner are reflective of our nation. The music is representative of our national pride. And so I choose to sing it bare-bones so that people can actually hear what I'm singing about. The distraction of the rock or pop versions of the Star Spangled Banner are not my preference - I prefer to give this incredibly important song the deference it deserves.
So why do I love to sing the national anthem? Because I like to remember what this country is all about in its purest sense, and to share that national pride with my fellow Americans.
What are your thoughts on the national anthem? What's your favorite version? Let me know in the comments below!
Hey! I'm Abby, the creator of Classically Abby, a commentary, opera, beauty, and lifestyle brand dedicated to looking at the world from a classic perspective. I'm the first Conservative Influencer and I'm an opera singer with three degrees in performance!