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Connais tu le pays

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Ambroise Thomas




Mignon Synopsis


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Mezzo-Soprano or Soprano



Previous scene: Oui je veux par le monde
Next scene: Overture

100 Singers - RISE STEVENS

Singer(s): Maria Callas Maria Chiara Leyla Gencer Marilyn Horne Jessye Norman Roberta Peters Eleanor Steber Risë Stevens Virginia Zeani Licia Albanese

Rise Stevens, Mezzo-Soprano (1913-2013)
Ambroise Thomas: MIGNON
"Connais-tu le pays ... "
Conducted by Frieder Weissmann / Recorded 1941 (Public Domain)

My personal opinion: The history of classical music recording is also the story of regrettable omissions. Just imagine Maria Callas and Tito Gobbi in Bartok's BLUEBEARD'S CASTLE or Fritz Wunderlich in WINTERREISE. Imagine Nicolai Gedda singing "Ah, mes amis quel jour" from LA FILLE DU REGIMENT with nine high C's (after all, he left us five versions of "Mes amis, écoutez l'histoire" from LE POSTILLON DU LONJUMEAU by Adam). The great Jussi Björling was already announced by HMV as Massenet's Des Grieux in MANON, but replaced by Henri Legay. A scheduled CARMEN with Rise Stevens and Björling was also never materialized. Later Stevens said: "I was very disappointed. Can you imagine to have him on that record? There was only one Jussi!" Björling was substituted by Jan Peerce. Caruso never sang "Nessun dorma", because he died three years before Puccini composed TURANDOT. Alfredo Kraus never recorded LES CONTES D'HOFFMANN commercially. Anita Cerqueti made only one studio opera: LA GIOCONDA. The list of omissions goes on with names such as Eleanor Steber, Leyla Gencer, Virginia Zeani, Maria Chiara and many more.
And sometimes we have the exact opposite: Recordings, they should not have done; embarrasing performances with former stars beyond their prime or expensive productions of unknown works that hardly anyone wants to hear - a speciality of modern countertenors! Another subject is the inflationary use of well-known names: Placido Domingo, for instance, had sung in more than 250 (!) complete opera recordings (15 different OTELLO versions are available). Nevertheless IMHO there is only one evergreen performance in his vast discography: DON CARLO under Giulini. Don't let anyone say, the world is fair ...
For more than two decades a star at the Met, the previously mentioned American mezzo-soprano Rise Stevens shared the same fate as Eleanor Steber, her colleague in New York: Phonogram under-representation. Largely overlooked by international companies, Stevens can be heard in no more than four studio operas, of these only two were main parts: Gluck's ORFEO (Pierre Monteux) and the said CARMEN (Fritz Reiner's only non-live opera). Both productions were realized with a large number of American singers: New York City born Rise Stevens was supported by Roberta Peters, Licia Albanese, Jan Peerce, Robert Merrill, Margaret Roggero and Met veteran baritones Osie Hawkins and George Cehanovsky. Some extra caution had to be taken to design the original album covers: CARMEN shows Stevens seductive looking and lasciviously lolling, ORFEO even presents her sitting on a rock dressed as ancient Orpheus with the real Acropolis in the background - and an overseen modern car along with Athens tourists! Monteux, at that time age 82, slows down the romantic selections ("Che puro ciel", "Che faro"), giving the score warmth and feeling - and Rise Stevens adapts to that very well. After all these historically informed performances (and an invasion of men with female voices), it's really refreshing to hear again a true mezzo soprano. I like this recording very much, even if German music author Kesting (a man of hair-raising conclusions) wrote, Stevens as Orpheus is "short of breath" ...
The gem in Steven's discography, naturally, is her CARMEN, a role she performed at the Met between 1945 and 1961 more than 120 times. It was her signature role, albeit "... she was far from being a great singer" (Howard Taubman in 'New York Times'). One wonders, what is a 'great' singer? Rise Stevens is in wonderful voice here, immensely expressive and lively - no trace of artificial diva behavior (à la Jessye Norman). 16 successful years as Carmen at the Met speak for themselves (regrettably her partner is not Björling, but rather Jan Peerce who sings grainy, brusque and charmless). In an abridged version of Saint-Saens' SAMSON ET DALILA (produced on occasion of Stevens' acclaimed Met performances as Dalila), her mesmerizing "Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix" (model for Marilyn Horne) has no chance against Mario del Monaco's vocal muscle play. Rise Stevens gives a more memorable performance in the weird Bing Crosby movie "Going my way" (1944), in which she sings Carmen's "Habanera" - strangely dressed in a raincoat (!) and with a thorny rose between her teeth ...

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Mezzosoprano GIANNA PEDERZINI Mignon Non conosci il bel suol 1930 92633
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Part III Rare and unknown voices HERTHA TaPPER 92602
1 - Maria Stader
1 - Marianne Schech
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Elisabeth GrummerMignonaria connais tu Kennst du AmbrThomas 92601
1 - Elisabeth Grümmer
1 - Elisabeth Schwarzkopf

100 Singers RISE STEVENS 92615
1 - Eleanor Steber
1 - Jessye Norman
1 - Leyla Gencer
1 - Licia Albanese
1 - Maria Callas
1 - Maria Chiara
1 - Roberta Peters
1 - Virginia Zeani
2 - Marilyn Horne
2 - Risë Stevens
Soprano FLORENCE EASTON Mignon Connaistu le pays 1922 92641
1 -
1 - Florence Easton

Mignon Act I Act I Connaistu le pays ou fleurit l oranger Mignon 92699
1 - Mimi Benzell
2 - Risë Stevens


Connais-tu le pays où fleurit l'oranger?
Le pays des fruits d'or et des roses vermeilles,
Où la brise est plus douce et l'oiseau plus léger,
Où dans toute saison butinent les abeilles,
Où rayonne et sourit, comme un bienfait de Dieu,
Un éternel printemps sous un ciel toujours bleu!
Hélas! Que ne puis-je te suivre
Vers ce rivage heureux d'où le sort m'exila!
C'est là ! c'est là  que je voudrais vivre,
Aimer, aimer et mourir!

Connais-tu la maison où l'on m'attend là -bas?
La salle aux lambris d'or, où des hommes de marbre
M'appellent dans la nuit en me tendant les bras?
Et la cour où l'on danse à  l'ombre d'un grand arbre?
Et le lac transparent où glissent sur les eaux
Mille bateaux légers pariels à  des oiseaux!
Hélas! Que ne puis-je te suivre
Vers ce pays lointain d'où le sort m'exila!
C'est là ! c'est là  que je voudrais vivre,
Aimer, aimer et mourir!

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Sheetmusic in our database with this aria

Operatic Anthology: Mezzo-SopranoCantolopera: Arias for Mezzo-Soprano Volume 2

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