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Collection: "Sempre Libera" 16 Opera arias for bassoon & piano (Soluri) complete

Price: $24.95
Sale Price: $22.46
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Item Number: 51903
Publisher: T.D. Ellis

16 Opera Arias arranged by Ted Soluri for bassoon and piano.
Ted Soluri has a wonderful recording of these arrangements.  Item 51901.

83 page piano part, 28 page solo part

Puccini: O mio babbino caro (Gianni Schicchi)

Mozart: Voi che sapete (Marriage of Figaro)

Lehar: Vilja Lied (Merry Widow)

Puccini: Quando me'n vo (La Boheme)

Mozart: Geme la tortorella (La finta giardiniera)

Donizetti: Una furtiva lagrima (L'elisir d'amore)

Wagner: Pogner's Address (Die Meistersinger vom Numberg)

Verdi: Sempre libera (La traviata)

Saint-Saens: Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix (Samson et Dalila)

Catalani: Ebben! Ne andro lontana (La Wally)

Rossini: Une voce poco fa (Barber of Seville)

Mozart: Mi tradi quell'alma (Don Giovanni)

Puccini: Che gelida manina (La Boheme)

Bizet: Je dis que rien ne m'epouvante (Carmen)

Rossini: Ecco ridente in cielo (Barber of Seville)

Strauss, R.: Traum durch die Dammerung  

Notes from the arranger:

I have been a fan of vocal music, and particularly the operatic repertoire, since I was in college.  I quickly realized that my love of vocal music added so much to my concepts of sound, vibrato, and phrasing.  This became even more apparent when my teacher in graduate school, David McGill, introduced me to the artistry of soprano Maria Callas.  A polarizing figure, Callas did not always sing with a “perfect”  voice, but her technique and phrasing are still virtually unparalleled. I have learned so much about phrasing simply by listening to her recordings.  Rarely have I heard someone sing with such a natural line and control that makes the listener feel they are listening to it the way it was meant to be sung.

As you study and learn these arias, I encourage you to spend as much time listening to various singers as you can.  It will only help you reach a deeper understanding of the repertoire.  I also think it is very important to look at the piano/vocal scores and English translations of the text to fully understand how things fit together and to get a firm appreciation for the meaning and context behind each piece.  I have carefully chosen articulations that are instrumental in nature but that still stay true to the original text in relation to hard and soft consonances as well as vowel sounds.

This compendium is tied in with my debut CD, "Sempre Libera" on Azica Records available through The Music Source and most classical music retailers.  Listened to in conjunction with vocal performances, it can also prove a valuable asset in how to approach these amazing pieces of music.

The most important things, though, are to have fun and sing! 


Transcriptions of operatic arias for solo instrument and piano: they usually come off like the dog that has been trained to walk on its hind legs for a couple of steps; they're novelties; recital fodder. And that's about it, right?

Wrong. Sure, some arias work better than others, some transcriptions are better than others, some instruments can pull it off better than others. With Ted Soluri's recent release of operatic arias transcribed for bassoon and piano, Sempre Libera, (available here) we've got all three better-than-otherses coming together, plus a fourth: Ted Soluri's a fantastic bassoonist with a heart for solo vocal literature. So I would venture to say he can make this album work better than just about anyone.

Since the 2015 retirement of Wil Roberts as the Dallas Symphony Orchestra's long-sitting principal bassoonist, Mr. Soluri has held that position, and we should all try to make him as comfortable as possible so that he'll want to stay a long time. Anyone who heard, for example, last season's performance of Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra knows how he makes his instrument sing throughout its register, up to the high B in the work's closing measures. Now this album of transcriptions gives us a chance to give Soluri's artistry our almost undivided attention.

Almost undivided because he brings with him Valerie M. Trujillo, Professor of Vocal Coaching and Accompanying at Florida State University. She's a sensitive and perceptive accompanist who deserves substantial credit for making this album so delightful (and indeed Soluri thanks her profusely in the page of acknowledgments in the disc's accompanying booklet). In some numbers, she fills in for characters other than that of the soloist whose part Soluri is playing, and she does so in a way that recreates some of the drama present in the original setting. And in "Mon Cœur S'ouvre À Ta Voix" from Saint-Saens' Samson et Dalila, she has a chance to really cut loose in what amounts to a mini-concerto moment.

The disc's first track is "O mio babbino caro" from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi. Even before I received the recording, I knew this work would be included. I can't think of an instrument that could ruin this gem, and I can't think of one that would sound more beautiful or more appropriate than the bassoon. There's something about its tone color that, to my ear, makes it a near perfect substitute for the human voice. It's a great way to start things off.

The title cut, "Sempre libera" from Verdi's La Traviata, holds a special place in my heart: I once worked on an arrangement of this piece for tuba and piano, but I quit the instrument before ever performing it (thus it should probably hold a special place in your heart). I knew it would work well on bassoon, because the embellishments—grace notes, trills and all--are the kind of thing that come naturally to this instrument.

The only track I sneered at was taken from an opera I sneer at. I'm not a Carmen fan. Nevertheless, I have never liked the third act's "Je dis que rien ne m'épouvante" better. It's a gorgeous aria, darn it, and I have Soluri and Trujillo to blame for that admission.

I may not have sneered at the album's more curious tracks, but I certainly raised an eyebrow at "Che gelida manina" from Puccini's La Bohème, and at Strauss's Op. 29/1, "Traum durch die Dämmerung." The Puccini had me wondering if this scene would work without a true single-timbre duet to carry some of the climactic moments, and I had my doubts about the Strauss because that song, like so many of his others, seems to depend so much on its verbal aspect — particularly the German consonants — to work. Well, the Puccini did have a duet, what with Ms. Trujillo's carefully managed Mimi. And the Strauss gave me an appreciation for how well the bassoon and piano sound together when both are working in their middle register. Who needs those German consonants, anyway?

In fact, everything on the album works. Mozart, Donizetti, Rossini, Catalani (and Lehar? Yes, that staple of silent film scores, "Vilja Lied" from The Merry Widow, is one of the longest tracks on the album, but I wish it were longer). It's all magnificently rendered, and we should thank Mr. Soluri and Ms. Trujillo for bringing us these selections that we already liked — most of them, anyhow — because now we can like them in a new way.  

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