Johann Straus II - Vergnügungszug (Pleasure Train), op. 281

Johann Strauss II , known for his waltzes and lively compositions, had a unique approach to his creative process. He consistently sought contemporary and relevant themes to serve as the driving force behind his new musical compositions. This approach ensured that his work remained fresh and connected with the audiences of his time.  One notable instance of this creative approach was the composition of this polka, composed in 1864. This piece of music was specifically crafted for a summer concert held in the picturesque Russian town of Pavlovsk. It's fascinating to note that Strauss drew inspiration for this composition from the world around him. In this case, he found it in the emerging technology of the time, namely, the steam locomotive. The composition itself is a testament to Strauss's ability to capture the essence and energy of the subject matter. The rhythm of this dance piece mirrors the rhythmic chugging and movements of the old-fashioned steam trains that were prevale

Verdi - Rigoletto

Verdi composed this opera for Venice's La Fenice Theatre, but the authorities forced him to make changes because they were disturbed by "the provocative immorality and obscene banality" of the subject. Verdi, among other corrections, made the chosen king of the original libretto a simple duke so as not to offend the institution of the kingdom. Although it excited the public, the authorities maintained their reservations about the subject of the opera, even until our own century.

In this opera, a story of intrigue, corruption and debauchery, the only noble character is Gilda. She is the daughter or Rigoletto, the cynical, hunchbacked jester in the court of the Duke of Mantua, whom the pure Gilda falls in love with and for his sake loses her life.

- Questa o quella

The Duke's character is formed directly at the beginning of the opera, in the cute, light dance song Questa o quella (This woman or the other), in wich he rejects love for the sake of courtship.

- Giovanna, ho dei rimorsi

In Giovanna, ho dei rimorsi (Giovanna, I was possessed by remorse), Gilda confesses to her governess the guilt she feels for concealing from Rigoletto her secret love for the Duke. It is worth paying attention immediately after the beginning, the phrase "che tropo è bello e spira amore" ("he is handsome and I love him"), which Verdi reuses as one of the most memorable themes in "La Traviata", although it does not reappear in this opera. But while Gilda daydreams with her love, the Duke's voice joins hers as she says "ti amo" ("I love you").

- E il sol dell' anima

Gilda resists for a while, but soom she is seduced by the elusive aria E il sol dell' anima (Love is the sun of the soul). In this phrase she joins her voice before they are interrupted and greeted briefly and passionately with the duet Addio.

- Caro nome che il mio cor

Gilda sings alone, ecstatic about the romantic name given to her by the Duke in Caro nome che il mio cor (Favorite name that first awakened my heart), an exquisite aria full of courtesy and dreamy innocence.

- La donna è mobile

In the tavern scene (Act III, Scene I), the aria for tenor La Donna è Mobile (The woman is unstable) is the most famous of all operatic arias. It is an honest, attractive melody and the most memorable. Verdi wrote it believing that the it would be the opera's success, although, like everything he wrote, it is perfectly placed in the harmony of stage and character. Knowing for sure that it would be a success, he hid it from rehearsals until the last minute, so as not to leak before the premier and begin to be sung in the streets by the itinerant musicians. His precautions proved correct after the aria became famous overnight.

- Bella figlia dell' amore

The final act includes Bella figlia dell 'amore (Beautiful Daughter of Love), the famous quarter of the Duke and Maddalena (the gypsy with whom the Duke flirts) and Rigoletto with Gilda, who watch this erotic play out side the tavern. It is a wonderful vocal quarter, in which the four heroes simultaneously sing different melodies, expressing their different feelings.

- Lassu in cielo

The opera ends as Gilda dies at the hands of her father after their exquisite, shocking duet, Lassu in cielo (Up there in heavens)...