In a world full of crime and war, one might ask, “Where is the love?”
The answer comes with Chautauqua Opera Company’s Young Artists’ theme “Make Love Not War” at 4:15 p.m. today in the Hall of Christ. The singers will lay their hearts on the line through traditional serenades in the third Artsongs in the Afternoon recital of the season.
Soprano Aubry Ballarò-Hagadorn will open the show with pieces by Gioachino Rossini and Giuseppe Verdi, which were carefully selected and organized to create a mini story line that supports the theme.
“In particular, my first set, which is in Italian, is really fun because it is not a set by just one composer,” Ballarò-Hagadorn said. “This set veers more toward the love portion of our theme.”
Ballarò-Hagadorn said the Rossini pieces are romantic and wonderful. The first of the set is Rossini’s “La pastorella delle Alpi” represents a “Here I am, I know you love me” approach. The second piece “Teneste la Promessa” from Verdi’s “Serate musicali Stornello” tells the story of a man doubting his woman’s love.
“She tells him, ‘Even as a joke, I wouldn’t say I don’t love you,’ and then at the end he breaks things off,” she said. “She then adopts the attitude, ‘If you don’t love me, I don’t love you either.’ ”
Following Ballarò-Hagadorn’s opening, tenor Sean Christensen will take the stage to perform a set by composer Francesco Paolo Tosti.
“The songs in this set are all serenades. It’s all about wooing his lady love, but it’s not exactly successful,” Tosti said. “The first song ‘L’Ultima Canzone’ is a serenade, and I am outside of her window singing to the woman I love. But she is getting married the next day.”
The second song “Ideale” is straightforward and has a humorous tone, he said. The last song he will sing takes place under the window again and expresses that love is in the air.
“My set relates to the theme ‘Make Love Not War’ because it is really about making love,” he said. “It shows the classic stereotype serenading, with the man outside of the window.”
Mezzo-soprano Kelly Clarke brings an exotic new flavor later in the recital with her set inspired by Afro-Cuban rhythms and instruments based off of that region. Xavier Montsalvatge’s “Cinco canciones negras” pieces are all performed in Spanish and touch more on the war portion of the theme.
“Montsalvatge’s pieces are about wars and imperialism. It has a political undertone,” Clarke said. “I think the pieces are really beautiful and that is why I chose them.”
In a way, they are speaking out against war, she said, but secretly. The poetry used was banned from the country, and Montsalvatge uncovered it. The first song, “Cuba dentro un piano,” is outwardly political, but the last two songs, “Cancion de cuna para dormer a un negrito” and “Canto negro,” are more subtle.
“I performed these pieces a year ago,” she said. “I feel like there are more layers now that I have lived with it for so long.”
Baritone Tyler Wolowicz is singing pieces from Maurice Ravel’s Don Quichotte à Dulcinée. This set is also based on expressing unconditional love. The set was created around the requests for a serenade, heroic and comedic song.
His first song “Chanson Romanesque,” the serenade, is about a man making lofty, unrealistic gestures to gain a woman’s favor. The second song “Chanson épique” is the heroic piece which signifies a knight’s prayer.
“ ‘Chanson à boire,’ the third song, also known as the ‘Drinking Song,’ translates roughly to ‘I drink to joy and joy is the only thing I will pursue when I am drunk,’ ” Wolowicz said. “It’s a fun cycle.”
At the end the four young artists will join the stage together and perform six quartets from Johannes Brahms’s Liebeslieder Walzer, Op. 52. Dottie Randall and Carol Rausch have assisted the young artists in choosing their material, coaching and will accompany the young artists on the piano for this recital.
“This is a very cohesive strong group, and the first run we practiced the waltzes was great,” Ballarò-Hagadorn said.