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Musical performance of Giuseppe Sabbatini

BROADCAST: Sep. 10, 1993 | DURATION: 00:28:22


Celebrated young tenor Giuseppe Sabbatini discusses his upcoming performance as Alfredo in "Traviata" at the Lyric Opera as well as beginnings, church music, debuts with little/no rehearsal and more.


Tap within the transcript to jump to that part of the audio.


Studs Terkel Another exhilarating season at the Lyric opens on Saturday, September 18th, with one of the favorites, of course, Verdi's "La Traviata" with a remarkable trio. June Anderson is Violetta but the Alfredo is my guest. It's Giuseppe Sabbatini, the brilliant young tenor who made his debut at the Lyric as Rodolfo in "La Bohème" which we'll hear in a moment, his aria after he meets Mimi, her little hand is cold. And I'll ask you about the role of Rodolfo in your life, Mr. Sabbatini. But I think you've been called the fourth tenor today. Now some would say maybe the third, maybe the second, but they meant, of course, Pavarotti, and Domingo, and Carreras. In other words, you're up there. So, your whole life, you began as an instrumentalist. You studied the bass.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel Wasn't that the beginning?

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. The double bass.

Studs Terkel It wasn't voice?

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. In the 80, 85, in 1985 I start to, I started to study singing because I wasn't happy to be in, to play in the orchestra in Italy. In Italy there were some problems for the culture and for the music and for other things but for the culture [in the orchestra?].

Studs Terkel Unhappy as an instrumentalist in an orchestra, you mean?

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. For 7 years I played the double bass in Radio Symphonic Orchestra [in Rome?].

Studs Terkel Oh, you did?

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel You also did some jazz, too, did you not, for a short time?

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. Jazz, not very good, but rock--

Studs Terkel Rock?

Giuseppe Sabbatini And rock, yes. Yes. I played for, when I was very young. I was, from 14, 13 years to 17 when I was [interested?].

Studs Terkel And then your voice. What was it? Did you sing in church choirs?

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. When I was very, very young from 8 to 13 when my voice will change, when my voice changed.

Studs Terkel Yeah. So we'll ask about that as we go along. But what's interesting--let's open with the role with which you made your debut at the Lyric: Rodolfo--

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel In Puccini's "La Bohème." From rock to Puccini. I like that. So, a word about Rodolfo? The role, you say, is your own life.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel Expand on that a little.

Giuseppe Sabbatini For me, Rodolfo, when I sang, when I sing Rodolfo I have absolutely no problem because I don't [must? much?] study movements, stage, with the stage director. Usually they say to me you must be you [and stop?].

Studs Terkel You? Yeah.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Because, yes, my movements and my feelings on the stage are absolutely the same that when I live.

Studs Terkel And, so, when you think of Rodolfo you are sort of a bohemian in your own feeling? You are. I mean--

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. But because she's--he's a very, he's very strong in love--

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Giuseppe Sabbatini He's a jealous, he's a happy, he's a crazy--

Studs Terkel That's you!

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. Like me.

Studs Terkel A passionate being.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes, yes.

Studs Terkel A passionate man.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes, yes, yes.

Studs Terkel And so we hear the aria. Let's hear the aria. You meet Mimi and it's "Che gelida manina." This is the celebrated aria.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel When you realize that love is blossoming.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel And so we'll hear this. We'll hear Giuseppe Sabbatini as Rodolfo. [content removed, see catalog record] Wow. We should point out this was done live, this was done live--

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel From the opera stage at Bologna, the Bologna opera company. Now there's something you did, describe that. That's Giuseppe Sabbatini doing Rodolfo, the role in which he made his debut here at the Lyric last year. And now coming up, opening the Lyric season he'll be Alfredo. Puccini to Verdi. But back to Rodolfo's aria. There's something you did before hitting the high C. What was it? Describe what you did. That was rather unprecedented.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. This is one absolutely edition--critical edition--of [recording?] that we did in Bologna in 90, 1990, with Maestro Gelmetti and with my wife, Daniela Dessi. And in this critical edition we did all things that Puccini wrote but without big things of tradition with cries or other things. Only notes and always, none exist, for example, in this high C note of "Che gelida manina" no exist one [corona?]. Or it isn't very wonderful for the--it isn't elegant if you did a very long [corona?]. But if you arrive making one [rallentato?] [Italian] before, like in this recording, you can feel that this las speranza [Italian]--

Studs Terkel That moment?

Giuseppe Sabbatini [Born?] in a very quiet moment but with very energy, but with energy [unintelligible]--

Studs Terkel Energy is there, even though it's quiet the energy is there. And that leads--

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel In a fluid way to the high C.

Giuseppe Sabbatini To arrive at this very high note.

Studs Terkel That's what it was--is. So that's why they describe you as this remarkable tenor. You spoke of your wife doing the role of Mimi in it, Daniela Dessie.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel You're going to have a baby soon, so--I trust a tenor?

Giuseppe Sabbatini I hope. Because he is a boy.

Studs Terkel Yeah. So, you know it's a boy, so, a tenor.

Giuseppe Sabbatini And we know that he is a boy. But if he will take the voice of my wife and me, how you put it? We'll be [in heaven?]

Studs Terkel But if it turns out to be a bass, you don't mind, if it turns out to be someone like Chaliapine, you know.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. But I think it's very difficult--

Studs Terkel But you think more a [coloratura?] type?

Giuseppe Sabbatini My wife is a soprano. I am a tenor.

Studs Terkel Or Sabbatini type. We're talking about your beginnings from instrumentalist, you're a musician as well as singer. And you spoke of church singing and so you do an album of sacred songs.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes, yes.

Studs Terkel And the album of sacred songs is quite a remarkable one. There's Handel and there's Bizet. Now Bizet's song, the "Agnus Dei"--

Giuseppe Sabbatini "Agnus Dei," yes. It's one--

Studs Terkel This was, again, this is part of your heritage, part of your legacy.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes, yes.

Studs Terkel The church, the role of the church.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. Yes. Because I started to sing, I start to study singing in church, in a choir, choir boy. And I started to study and learn music, solfeggio, and all, and piano, too. And when I was very, very young, from 8 to 13 years old when I changed my voice from soprano, boy--[unintelligible] voice--

Studs Terkel The voice of soprano to--

Giuseppe Sabbatini To man voice.

Studs Terkel So, and your debut, then, when was your de--then you took voice lessons after you gave up the bass.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel You know, instrument, and then you studied. You made your debut where? In?

Giuseppe Sabbatini I made my debut in Spoleto.

Studs Terkel In Spoleto?

Giuseppe Sabbatini In one concourse, one competition of young singers in 12, September 1987.

Studs Terkel That was, what, six years?

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel So, that recently, isn't it?

Giuseppe Sabbatini In this time--

Giuseppe Sabbatini We have a young [tenor?] here.

Giuseppe Sabbatini In this spirit, in this spirit of--

Studs Terkel By the way, you sang in Parma, too, didn't you?

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. Of course.

Studs Terkel Now, I just a, Parma is a tough city, isn't it?

Giuseppe Sabbatini That is very--

Studs Terkel Isn't that the one where the people thumbs down?

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel Tenors have a hard time.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel And "Luisa Miller," once, I understand that poor tenor ran off the stage.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes, yes. I sang "boheme," too.

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Giuseppe Sabbatini "Eugene Onegin," which is Tchaikovsky, "Werther," of Massenet, and "L'elisir d'amore," of Donizetti.

Studs Terkel In Parma?

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. for [unintelligible?]

Studs Terkel But you were courageous. But you came off well because--

Giuseppe Sabbatini But they love me. They love me.

Studs Terkel Now of course they did. That must be an experience! In other words, the audience, the people of the community all come, it's like to a football game, in a way.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. Like a football game.

Studs Terkel It's that important.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Absolutely. Yes, yes.

Studs Terkel So, we come back to the sacred song, to Bizet. A word about, perhaps, when you approach a song of that sort. A wholly different approach, so to say, to an aria in an opera.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes, yes. Because it's another thing. It's only the rapport with man and God. And I have one very particularly rapport with God. But my younger culture, when I was young I sang a lot, a lot, many, many, many music of sacred--

Studs Terkel Yeah. So this is "Agnus Dei."

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel Of Bizet.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. [content removed, see catalog record]

Studs Terkel Imploring God. There's a cry to the heavens here and it came out very passionately.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel Giuseppe Sabbatini, my guest, and this is one of his sacred songs, Bizet's "Agnus Dei." So there was that moment there.

Giuseppe Sabbatini It is the moment of [imp-oration?] of the pray God that can give us peace for our souls. That is very important, I think [unintelligible].

Studs Terkel Of course, it came out, too, that moment, as the cry.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel But, by the way, that was Andreas Juffinger at the organ. This was recorded in a church?

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. Four years ago in a church in Jesus-Christus-Kirche in Berlin in Deutschland, in Germany. And, yes, it was fantastic church for to record.

Studs Terkel We could tell by the acoustics and it had that, it had sort of a cathedral feeling.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yeah, and more, a wonderful organ.

Studs Terkel We're talking to Giuseppe Sabbatini, who is playing the role of Alfredo in "Traviata," opening the Lyric theater season Saturday, September 18th. And, as you can gather, it'll be a memorable evening, indeed, with himself, and June Anderson, and the Russian baritone, Dmitri Hvorostovsky.

Danny Newman Hvorostovsky.

Studs Terkel Hvorostovsky. So, coming up, more of Giuseppe Sabbatini. Sabbatini. So, I--this came way back, you know, when you were still an instrumentalist but the voice was there, singing in the chorus, and you, people knew--your friends, and relatives, knew that you were born to be a singer?

Giuseppe Sabbatini Oh, yes, of course. Yes, of course.

Studs Terkel Yeah. That was, even though a cello. There's one coming up, from that same album of sacred songs, that same album we just heard Bizet, is something of Handel from the oratorio "Serse." And this is the one I remember, if I could be autobiographical. I was 12 years old in the summertime and this man next door had all kinds of records, you know, 78s, of course, Victor, made in Camden, New Jersey. And it was Caruso, of course, and Caruso singing "Ombra mai fu." And I never recovered from it. It was fantastic! And I hear you do it now and all those memories come back. Perhaps a word about that aria, that song?

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel A word about that.

Giuseppe Sabbatini This is only one, I think, absolutely, it's that moment of the arrival, this man, to remember his country. And I like very, very much because it's a very quiet piece.

Studs Terkel This one that allows for your own flowing quality as well, as we hear.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel Now. [content removed, see catalog record] I was thinking of that aria, that song from "Serse," Handel, that you sing, Giuseppe Sabbatini. It was soft; at the same time you were speaking of the energy underneath it.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel That's always there, isn't it?

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes, yes. Because I think that in this aria, in this "Largo," absolutely famous, the word always the same but I think that when you have one--ricordo in Italiano, I don't have the English--

Studs Terkel That's okay.

Giuseppe Sabbatini When you remember one thing you don't remember only one phase of this moment, you remember the feeling, and the delight, the body--

Studs Terkel The color.

Giuseppe Sabbatini The colors. All things. And you must--

Studs Terkel It's all. The total--

Giuseppe Sabbatini When you sing, when one singer sings must give this ideas.

Studs Terkel Yeah. So, energy to cover the full, not one aspect--

Giuseppe Sabbatini No.

Studs Terkel But all of this being--

Giuseppe Sabbatini I try.

Studs Terkel A body, the human, or the circumstance. You also, something you did here, the organ of Andreas Juffinger; your voice picking up where the organ left off, but it's of one piece. It's of one piece of cloth. It's not "here comes the voice," it's--blends from that organ note to the vocal. It's one, isn't it? That was deliberate, wasn't it?

Giuseppe Sabbatini Usually I don't like to be only singer, only tenor, but I want to be a musician. And for me it's very important, make one thing with the orchestra, or the piano, or the organ.

Studs Terkel It just occurred to me as you said this: a while back you were unhappy as an instrumentalist, as a musician. But the fact that you were playing the bass, you did study an instrument, probably plays a role in the way you sing you just described. It wasn't just a tenor, a vocalist coming in; it was a musician who was going along with another musician who was at the organ.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel So, that whole background that you had may play a role in all this.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. It's very important for me, this background, because I start to study music from when I was eight years old. And now are 28 years that I live absolutely for the music.

Studs Terkel I was thinking, in the six or seven years of your operatic career, you know, [unintelligible] the number of roles you've done is astonishing.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Oh, my god. 27.

Studs Terkel That's everything? We'll come to Mozart in a moment.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel Twenty-seven roles, you say?

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. In five years [unintelligible] I debuted twenty-seven titles.

Studs Terkel "I Puritani," "Lucia"--

Giuseppe Sabbatini "Rigoletto."

Studs Terkel You went right down the line of some more lesser-known operas, of course, "I Puritani."

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel And I guess you were the Italian tenor in "Der Rosenkavalier"?

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel Yeah. That, too.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. For example, for "I Puritani" we have, we were the same cast that will open the "Traviata" and--

Studs Terkel "La Traviata."

Giuseppe Sabbatini Because we were June Anderson, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and me in Covent Garden. One year is enough.

Studs Terkel Oh, the same ones? In what?

Giuseppe Sabbatini "I Puritani."

Studs Terkel In "I Puritani."

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes, Covent Garden--

Studs Terkel So there was Bellini?

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel So, the three of you, oh, the three of you were--

Giuseppe Sabbatini The same three. were the same.

Studs Terkel Have you done "Traviata" before together?

Giuseppe Sabbatini No.

Studs Terkel Oh, the first time.

Giuseppe Sabbatini For me it's the first time.

Studs Terkel So this will be quite the event, though?

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel At the Lyric.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel So, then the Lyric is also part of your, part of your life, too? The Lyric Opera company.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. Yes, yes. I am very happy. Yes.

Studs Terkel Because you worked at just about every big company in the world, of course.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. Of course.

Studs Terkel Well, I've got to remember to remind the audience that Saturday, the season opens, the 18th. Danny Newman, our distinguished impresario is here. Perhaps a word during the break, before we hear from Giuseppe Sabbatini again, perhaps a word about some of the forthcoming after "Traviata." Would you like to--assume you're on the stage right now?

Danny Newman Actually, Studs, I think there's enough to talk about in "Traviata" and I think that it's as interesting that when we open "La Traviata" it will be the first season in which we, Lyric Opera of Chicago, open in our own Civic Opera House. We have lately, as you may have heard, purchased the Civic Opera House from our landlords, and so Giuseppe Sabbatini, and June Anderson, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and so on are the starring triumvirate in the first opera in Lyric Opera's own home.

Studs Terkel And we say, there you have it.

Danny Newman Thank you, Studs.

Studs Terkel OK. So, "Traviata" and this debut has several dimensions, several meanings, several implications to it. And I couldn't help but having to have Danny on the program with that note about [unintelligible] happened. And so, after this break, more of Giuseppe Sabbatini. Giuseppe Sabbatini, who, as you know by now, will be Alfredo in the opening opera of the Lyric season, this forthcoming season. Saturday, the 18th, "Traviata" with June Anderson, and the Russian Hvorostovsky, as your old man--I call him "old man Germont." And, so, there we heard your Puccini, we heard your Verdi, we heard a couple of sacred songs of Bizet and of Handel. And which brings us, of course, to Mozart, doesn't it?

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. "Don Giovanni" was my first opera, [as Don Giovanni?], I sang for the first time this opera in this record. And there is one little thing that they can't see. I can say when I was in Bologna because of my wife, Daniella, must sang this one on the inauguration, the opening night of Bologna in "Don Giovanni" with Ruggero Raimondi. And Rockwell Blake was ill, was sick and the director call me, came in my apartment and say, "Please, you can save us." But I say, I only for to hear this "Don Giovanni." "No, you must save us." And I studied in memory because I don't, I knew very well, I didn't know very well in memory of this opera. I learned in five hours.

Studs Terkel In five hours, Ottavio?

Giuseppe Sabbatini In "Don Giovanni," yes.

Studs Terkel Yes.

Giuseppe Sabbatini The Don Giovanni part and I sang in the opening night with very big success.

Studs Terkel Wow. So you came through?

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel So, it's five hours and you hadn't done the role before?

Giuseppe Sabbatini No. Only record--

Studs Terkel Had you done--you never did Don Ottavio?

Giuseppe Sabbatini No, only record that we did, the score in front of an audience.

Studs Terkel You'd done the score but never done it on the operatic stage?

Giuseppe Sabbatini No.

Studs Terkel No score?

Giuseppe Sabbatini Never. And learn in 5 hours.

Studs Terkel So you did it. And you came through.

Giuseppe Sabbatini No, I was crazy. [unintelligible]

Studs Terkel I suppose we set the scene for "Dalla sua pace." This, of course, is one of the celebrated--one of the two celebrated arias of Ottavio. This one and, perhaps, we'd have time for "Il mio tesoro" later but set the scene. Well, first of all, Mozart; is singing Mozart--now, of course, we talk about nuances. Singing Mozart. What is the difference of singing Mozart or singing in Italian? Verdi or Puccini?

Giuseppe Sabbatini But singing Mozart, it's like a very big lesson of style and technique. It's very difficult to sing Mozart because you must be absolutely in style. You must--the feelings that you can have during Mozart's operas are the same. For example, you can [angry? hungry?], you can be in love--

Studs Terkel Emotions, universal?

Giuseppe Sabbatini But you must say, you must expose this emotion in it absolutely style, I think, style way.

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Giuseppe Sabbatini And it's very difficult.

Studs Terkel You know, a number of singers have said this about singing Mozart: you can't fool the audience, see. You could sing someone, other composers--especially a contemporary composer [unintelligible]. And you can make a few mistakes. In other words, in Mozart you can't.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel So everything is so clear.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Absolutely.

Studs Terkel And open.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel So you have to, so that style is part of it, too.

Giuseppe Sabbatini And it's very difficult to do. What the Mozart, what Mozart designed, the dynamic of the fortepiano and emotion that you must give. It's very difficult because you must write and you must, yes, read all things and you must do all that Mozart wrote.

Studs Terkel The totality. It's the whole thing.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes, yes. It is very difficult.

Studs Terkel So, perhaps, set the scene for, dramatically, for Don Ottavio doing this aria [unintelligible].

Giuseppe Sabbatini This aria, it's only, it's only love, "Dalla sua pace," and it's only the power of one old man that loves a young lady. And he send her a--

Studs Terkel So it's a love for Donna Anna here?

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel So this is, this is Giuseppe Sabbatini as Ottavio in "Don Giovanni." [content removed, see catalog record] It's a beautiful aria and it's sung by Giuseppe Sabbatini. I'm thinking, and, so that challenge often comes, that you didn't expect to sing it. You had never sung it in the opera before you recorded it and here you're pinch hitting. 5 hours of rehearsal for the role, of a key role in "Giovanni," of course.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel Did this happen on occasion?

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. But, for me, it's very important for this recording and understand that if you study, I think, in a good way, if you try to understand you can sing without--you can sing and sing and [leave? live?] one thing, like one record, you can sing in a record without working on stage before. Because the music, it's another thing. Okay, this is one opera, right? But--

Studs Terkel That's on the record? Yeah.

Giuseppe Sabbatini We can sing--

Studs Terkel And you can stop and everything else.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes, yes.

Studs Terkel Now you're on stage and you've never rehearsed with members of the cast before.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel And you're doing a key role in it.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. But I went, now I remember absolutely nothing of this evening, of this night because I had one pianist near me, very close to me, that always, when I finish it--one scene--and they change it, for example, my costume, it was completely at my disposition for study. And I remember in a good way this scene that I'm--

Studs Terkel About to ha--about to come again.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel The next aria--

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. The next scene.

Studs Terkel The next time you sing, as we'll hear "Il mio tesoro."

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. Yes.

Studs Terkel See? Perhaps this is the most celebrated of all Ottavio's arias, "Il mio tesoro." So this pianist is with you, and so just to refresh you, to refresh your feeling and thoughts [on this?].

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel And the music as well. He's there to set it as you're changing your costumes--

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel For the next scene, the next time you appear again.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Absolutely. Because it was very difficult to learn in five hours the recitativo.

Studs Terkel But what's interesting, you said a moment ago you forgot the whole thing, it's obliterated. It's forgotten.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Absolutely, absolutely.

Studs Terkel Because all the concentration for that moment.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel Saving the production.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. The opening night.

Studs Terkel It's like an understudy--this is more than an understudy, of course, because you've never done this. An understudy in a play at least has been rehearsing the role when he or she steps in, you know, in these melodramas, saves the day. The understudy comes in. That understudy has studied that role with that cast before. Whereas in this case it's absolutely out of nowhere. So let's continue with the drama. "Il mio tesoro." Set the scene for that.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel They want to get the Don.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel We know they got to get even with the Don for the terrible things he's done, and for killing the Commendatore, the father of Anna. And Elvira, woman spurned, they want to get the Don. And, but meantime, he is singing of his love, Ottavio.

Giuseppe Sabbatini I don't remember who, now in this moment, who he live in, I think Masetto [unintelligible]--

Studs Terkel But Ottavio is singing the aria.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes, of course.

Studs Terkel So we hear that.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yeah. [content removed, see catalog record]

Studs Terkel So Sabbatini as Ottavio. Just to remind the audience again of the opening of the Lyric opera season with "Traviata," Verdi. And, perhaps, you close with Verdi, too, in a moment, another of the operas. Talking with Giuseppe Sabbatini who is Alfredo in the opening performance at the Lyric Saturday, September 18th. Sabbatini, Giuseppe, remember you're going to sing a Verdi hero, perhaps the most familiar, Alfredo, aside from the Duke of "Rigoletto," most familiar. Alfredo, the lover of the young, innocent--turns out, not too innocent toward the end--of Violetta in "Traviata." Now there's a young tenor in Venice, Middle Ages, "Simon Boccanegra" is the Doge.

Giuseppe Sabbatini In Genoa?

Studs Terkel Oh, it's in Genoa?

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes.

Studs Terkel In Genoa, of course. In Genoa.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Genoa, yes.

Studs Terkel And he's the Doge, he's the guy in charge and he is, by the way, Renato Bruson, you've sung with him a couple of times? He was Giovanni.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. Yes.

Studs Terkel You were Ottavio when he's the Doge to your young tenor.

Giuseppe Sabbatini And we did together a lot of--many, many records together, yeah.

Studs Terkel And what--set the scene for this--dramatically, set the scene.

Giuseppe Sabbatini This scene is very particular because now Gabriele understands that Maria, his love, she's falling, she falls into love for the Doge, Simon.

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Giuseppe Sabbatini But Gabriele, me, I don't know that Doge is the father of Maria.

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Only half knows this.

Studs Terkel So this is the question, at the same time this great reconciliation at the end.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Yes. Yes.

Studs Terkel See. So this is the aria [of love?] that you sing. And remember, this is Verdi we're doing again, see? So we'll just close our program with this as we hear this aria from "Simon Boccanegra" with Giuseppe Sabbatini. Thank you and welcome once again to the Lyric season and to Chicago.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Thank you very much. And sorry for my English but I love you!

Studs Terkel It's great! It's fine.

Giuseppe Sabbatini Thank you very much.

Studs Terkel And sorry for my Italian. Okay, on our way to Canaan land. "Boccanegra."