Claudio Abbado conducts “Songs of Love and Desire” at the 1998 New Year’s Eve Concert

31 Dec 1998
New Year’s Eve Concert

Berliner Philharmoniker
Claudio Abbado

Christine Schäfer, Simon Keenlyside, Marcelo Álvarez, Mirella Freni

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Le nozze di Figaro, K. 492: Overture · “Giunse alfin il momento” – “Deh vieni non tardar” (10 min.)

    Christine Schäfer Soprano

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Don Giovanni: “Deh! Vieni alla finestra” (2 min.)

    Simon Keenlyside Baritone

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Die Zauberflöte: “Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen” (3 min.)

    Simon Keenlyside Baritone, Christine Schäfer Soprano

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Don Giovanni: “Fin ch’han dal vino” · “Là ci darem la mano” (5 min.)

    Simon Keenlyside Baritone, Christine Schäfer Soprano

  • Georges Bizet
    L’Arlésienne, Suites No. 1 and No. 2: Carillon · Farandole (8 min.)

  • Gioacchino Rossini
    La gazza ladra: Overture (9 min.)

  • Giuseppe Verdi
    Rigoletto: “E il sol dell’anima” · “Addio... speranza ed anima” · “Caro nome” · “La donna è mobile” (12 min.)

    Marcelo Álvarez Tenor, Christine Schäfer Soprano

  • Giuseppe Verdi
    Un ballo in maschera: “Eri tu che macchiavi quell’anima” (4 min.)

    Simon Keenlyside Baritone

  • Hector Berlioz
    Le Carnaval romain, Ouverture caractéristique, op. 9 (8 min.)

  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Eugene Onegin: Polonaise · “Puskai pogilabnu ya, no pryezhde” (Letter scene) (19 min.)

    Mirella Freni Soprano

  • Giuseppe Verdi
    La Traviata: “Libiamo ne’ lieti calici” (Brindisi) (4 min.)

    Mirella Freni Soprano, Christine Schäfer Soprano, Simon Keenlyside Baritone, Marcelo Álvarez Tenor

Songs of Love and Desire was how the Berliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado subtitled their New Year’s Eve Concert from 1998. The various ways these powerful human emotions manifest themselves was to be heard in famous arias and scenes by Mozart, Verdi and Tchaikovsky. The soloists were Christine Schäfer, Simon Keenlyside and Marcelo Àlvarez, three of the best opera singers of the younger generation. They were joined towards the end of the evening by a prima donna assoluta of the 20th century: Mirella Freni. 

The singers impressed not only through vocal splendour, but also by their dramatic versatility. Christine Schäfer perfectly conveyed the subtle differences between the genuine desire of Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto, the feigned love of Susanna in Mozart’s Figaro and the timid, doubting affection of Zerlina in Don Giovanni. Male passion, in turn, is shown in this concert from its more dubious side, with Simon Keenlyside portraying a Don Giovanni who constantly changes between charm and lasciviousness. On the other hand, Marcelo Àlvarez as the Duke in Rigoletto pursues his conquests with a gentle, but no less insidious seductiveness.

And finally, the appearance of Mirella Freni, whose connection with the Berliner Philharmoniker goes back to 1972, when she collaborated with Herbert von Karajan on the legendary recording of La bohème. With great vividness and musicality, she performed the letter scene from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin as a miniature drama in which doubt, determination and unconditional love struggle for supremacy.

© 1998 EuroArts Music International

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