“E se un giorno tornasse”

Ottorino Respighi, "E se un giorno tornasse"
Anthony Reed, bass; Chris Reynolds, piano

In the course of three decades, from 1905 to 1935, Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936) composed 12 operas, but he remained much more celebrated for his orchestral works. His wife Elsa, a singer and composer herself, was instrumental in encouraging him in the realm of vocal music, for which he had a substantial gift. Always interested in high-quality texts, he wrote "E se un giorno tornasse" ("And if he were to return one day") in 1893 using a poem by the brilliant Maurice Maeterlinck, whose play nine years later would be adapted as Debussy's opera Pelléas et Mélisande.

Originally written for mezzo-soprano, this exceedingly melancholy song is exceptional in Italian repertoire (but not totally atypical of Respighi) in the very exposed, minimally accompanied vocal line, which requires the ultimate in nuanced projection of the text. The very stark, declamatory nature of the vocal writing here should draw instant attention to every syllable. The singer must portray two characters in dialogue. One of the unnamed women apparently has had a lover, and if he were to return one day? Her friend says, "If he asks me about your final hour?" The response: "Tell him that I smiled, so he doesn't cry."

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*** Ryan Opera Center Ensemble

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About the Ryan Opera Center

About the Ryan Opera Center

The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center is Lyric's preeminent artist-development program that nurtures the talents of some of the most promising operatic singers and pianists of each generation. The program's Ensemble members earn their coveted spot by successfully auditioning among more than 400 artists worldwide. Its alumni are among the dominant names in opera today. Donor generosity ensures continued unparalleled training, performance experience, and professional readiness of Ensemble members. This highly competitive program, established in 1974, is honored to enjoy the support of acclaimed soprano Renée Fleming as Advisor, along with full-time staff Director Dan Novak, Music Director Craig Terry, and Director of Vocal Studies Julia Faulkner.

Photos: Kyle Flubacker