Sunday, June 5, 2011
Sara Scuderi: I Lived For Art!
She enjoyed a fine career, largely in the 1930's and 40's. She retired at the end of the 40's. Toward the end of her life she lived at the famous retirement home founded by Giuseppe Verdi, the Casa di Riposo per Musicisti, where a rather extraordinary film was made of her in 1984, part of which we will see in a moment.
First, her signature role, for which she won widespread recognition:
Isn't that just wonderful!? All the elements are in place; the voice is well suited by color for the part, and the vocalism is excellent, but that is far from being the whole story. Notice the immaculate enunciation. Every single word can be clearly understood, and this leads to stylistic perfection; every important word is stressed, and no shade of emotion or meaning is sacrificed to pure vocalism (something that cannot always be said of sopranos in this role!) What comes through most clearly is fine artistry imbued with intense emotion and, let it be said admiringly, a dash of strong melodrama. This is Italian opera, after all! It is hard to see how this presentation could be improved upon.
It was in Scuderi's portrayal of tragic heroines that she excelled, and a second fine example would be this poignantly tragic rendition of "La Mamma Morta" from Andrea Chenier:
Much the same can be said for this presentation as was said for her "Vissi d'Arte": admirable vocalism and stylistic excellence, blended with what might be called a dignified melodrama (yes, there really is such a thing, at least in opera.)
And now, speaking of melodrama, a real treat. I would like to offer you, as a final testament both to Scuderi and the melodrama of Italian theater, this very moving film clip, made in 1984, when Scuderi was resident at the Verdi Rest Home For Musicians. To me at least, it speaks most eloquently about the very essence of Italian opera, and exactly how Italian singing actors are able to feel about their music, their theater, and their art. I urge you to watch it all—it's just 9 minutes long. Starting around 333, it is all about Scuderi. The entire clip, however, is most interesting:
Vissi d'Arte! I lived for art!
at 10:28 AM