ABOUT THE PICTURES
They are a miscellaneous collection of Orfeana from here and there which I have assembled to accompany the music (as well as a photo of the singer that concludes the video.) Image credits are as follows:
1) Antonio Canova, sculptor (photographer unknown)
2) Pascal Adolphe Jean Dagnan-Bouveret
3) Jonathan Alibone
4) Thomas Crawford, sculptor (photographer unknown)
5) Richard Putz
6) Unknown Attic potter (photographer unknown)
7) Alexandre Séon
8) Roger Corbeau(?)
9) George Frederick Watts
10) Jean Delville
11) Shoshanna Vaynman
12) Enzie Shahmiri
13) Jean Bourgoin(?)
14) Photographer unknown
ABOUT THE SINGER AND THE PERFORMANCE
Starting as a largely self-taught teenager in the mid-1970s, and battling a Moscow musical culture that neither valued nor really understood countertenors at the time, Kazakh-born Erik Kurmangaliev persevered and blossomed into a remarkable musician. He was not widely known in the west, and he left us only a meager discography by which to remember him; but what we have shows a performer of wit and intelligence, with a flair for subtlety and thoughtful phrasing. The voice was not perfect: a certain shrillness tended to creep in when he sang high and loud; but his pianissimi were as finely crafted as any countertenor's, his access to the modal register enabled him to hit low notes with ease that would vex a pure falsettist, and he sang with an unguarded honesty which sets his performances apart from the somewhat drier, more academicized work of his contemporaries. He was best known for his performances of the Russian repertory, but he could and did sing other things, such as this rendition of Chiamo il mio ben così, perhaps the most tuneful aria in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, and a deceptively treacherous piece. Many singers have made it sound like pretty music, but only a few have managed to breathe real dramatic life into it. Kurmangaliev's rendition is one of the finest I have ever heard by a male performer. The recording was issued in 1991 on the Olympia label.
TEXT (by Ranieri de Calzabigi)
Chiamo il mio ben così
quando si mostra il dì,
Ma, oh vano mio dolor!
l'idolo del mio cor
non mi risponde.
Ombra cara, ove sei? Piange il tuo sposo,
ti domanda agli dèi,
a' mortali ti chiede e sparse a' venti
son le lagrime sue, i suoi lamenti.
Cerco il mio ben così
in queste, ove morì,
Ma sola al mio dolor,
perché conobbe amor,
Euridice! Euridice! Ah, questo nome
san le spiagge, e le selve
l'appresero da me. Per ogni valle
Euridice risuona; in ogni tronco
scrisse il misero Orfeo, Orfeo infelice:
«Euridice, idol mio, cara Euridice».
Piango il mio ben così,
se il sole indora il dì,
se va nell'onde.
Pietoso al pianto mio
va mormorando il rio
e mi risponde.
Numi! barbari numi!
D'Acheronte e d'Averno
pallidi abitator, la di cui mano
avida delle morti
mai disarmò, mai trattener non seppe
beltà né gioventù, voi mi rapiste
la mia bella Euridice
(oh memoria crudel!) sul fior degli anni:
la rivoglio da voi, numi tiranni.
Ho core anch'io per ricercar sull'orme
dei più intrepidi eroi, nel vostro orrore,
la mia sposa, il mio ben...