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Ah! fu giusto il mio sospetto

Opera details:

Opera title:

Luisa Miller


Giuseppe Verdi




Luisa Miller Synopsis


Luisa Miller Libretto


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Previous scene: Sacra la scelta e d'un consorte
Next scene: Che mai narrasti


Singer: Cornell MacNeil

Giuseppe Verdi LUISA MILLER
"Sacra la scelta... Ah, fu giusto il mio sospetto" (Cabaletta)
With Enrico Campi (1919-1976), Bass-Baritone
Conducted by Nino Sanzogno / Recorded live 1963, Palermo

My personal opinion: This 'Big Mac' was certainly no 'Fast Food'. What Cornell MacNeil served was always a sumptuous 'meal'. The son of a farmer from Minneapolis was "a vocal phenomenon" (Peter G. Davies) who continued the tradition of great American baritones: Lawrence Tibbett, Leonard Warren and Robert Merrill. In 'Opera News', Paul Driscoll wrote that "MacNeil's performances had singular musical richness, moral and intellectual complexity", and he added the concise statement: "MacNeil may have had rivals, but he had no equals".
It was a voice of huge size and "volcanic top notes" (MacNeil reached without any problems, for instance, the A-flat in RIGOLETTO's final phrase "Ah, la maledizione"), but perhaps this exhuberance blinds us for some flaws. He never was a sensitive singer. Rightly a critic once remarked, the baritone always has sung with an all-purpose expression; it was as if he relied only on the richness of his voice. We hardly find in his recordings sensitivity. In the late 1950's, producer John Culshaw chose MacNeil for the role of Amonasro in the DECCA production of AIDA with Tebaldi and Bergonzi. After the first rehearsals with the baritone, Herbert von Karajan asked: "Who has just hired this cowboy?" It seemed the Maestro didn't like unsophisticatedness...
Cornell MacNeil, with his powerful but also sometimes rough and uneven voice, was made for the acoustic of the theater - although he was not known "as a temperamental artist" (Jonathan Kandell). For some, he even was a wooden actor. It may be, he was limited by his statuesque figure, but with his massive head and imperious facial features, he was a strong and authoritarian personality; just see his face in the TOSCA video with Shirley Verrett ("Tosca, finalmente mia") or in the brief moment after Alfredo (Domingo) humbled Violetta (Cotrubas) in the 1981 LA TRAVIATA from the Met: MacNeil, as Alfredo's father, suddenly stood there before his son with a stern look that makes you cringe...
MacNeil and Verdi's famous father figures - it was a symbiosis. As RIGOLETTO he had like only few the right 'physique du rôle'. James Levine said, the larger and more complex the part, the better MacNeil was.
MacNeil and Verdi: Early in the baritone's career it became a close connection. He was 36 when he made his debut in ERNANI at La Scala Milan in 1959 (after several years on Broadway in musical roles and an engagement at the New York City Opera 1952-1955). On March 21, 1959, MacNeil came to the Met as RIGOLETTO; a role he performed there until 1987 more than 100 times. Reviewer Saltzman: "He came through superbly. When he cut loose, the rafters trembled. Only in the big "Cortigiani" scene were there any signs of strain and pushing".
Let us remember the words of Isobel Baillie: "Never sing louder than lovely". Well, I cannot claim that MacNeil was a singer of lovely tones, but to be honest - which famous dramatic Verdi baritone was? Neither Ruffo nor Gobbi. Perhaps Tibbett and Warren were exceptions (I would categorize the young Merrill as a lyric singer). In MacNeil's first RIGOLETTO recording (1961, with Sutherland and the underrated tenor Cioni), he presents a haunting fanfare voice - even Siepi as Sparafucile sounds more smooth. But in the long duet with Gilda, MacNeil truly sings 'legato'. In his second RIGOLETTO, 1967, his voice is already fissured and in parts as rough as sandpaper. The signs of wear and tear could not be ignored any longer - and indeed it was MacNeil's last important studio production. His singing in the 1982 film version of LA TRAVIATA was mostly poorly rated: Director Zeffirelli chose his interpreters obviously with regard to their physical appearance: The attractive Domingo, the thin and pale-faced Teresa Stratas and the sturdy MacNeil...
Many times we have MacNeil's Scarpia on records and DVD, but he never recorded one of his greatest successes at the Met: Verdi's Iago in OTELLO. And so we have to go to the 1978 telecast with a squawking Jon Vickers, who had a bad day and delievers a disastrous "Si, pel ciel". MacNeil is the star of the performance with a powerful approach to Verdi. Probably other baritones gave Iago (according to Orson Welles "an impotent man") more subtleness, but it is the sheer eruptive malignity with which MacNeil decks this "personification of the evil" (Micheál MacLiammóir) - and Vickers' overacting is never as effective as a small sardonic smile from MacNeil's Iago...

Watch videos with other singers performing Ah! fu giusto il mio sospetto:


Ei m'ha spezzato il cor!
rimane silenzioso qualche momento, come oppresso dal dolore
Ah! fu giusto il mio sospetto!
Ira e duol m'invade il petto!
D'ogni bene il ben più santo,
senza macchia io vo' l'onor.
D'una figlia il don solanto,
ciel mi festi, e pago io son,
ma la figlia, ma il tuo dono
serba intatto al genitor.

English Libretto or Translation:

He broke my heart!
he remains silent for a few moments, as if oppressed by pain
Ah! my suspicion was right!
Ira and duol invades my chest!
Of all good the most holy,
I have no honor without stain.
Of a daughter the don solanto,
you made me, and I pay,
but the daughter, but your gift
Serbian intact to the parent.

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