Probably the best known Estonian opera is Cyrano de Bergerac by Eino Tamberg (libretto by Jaan Kross after Edmond Rostand). The performers are best from the Estonian operatic world – conductor Paul Mägi, Symphony Orchestra of the Estonian National Opera, the singers being the elite from neighbouring Finland. A must for all opera lovers. Double-CD. Produced by ERP for CPO.
Romantic opera in 3 acts and an epilogue, op 45 (1974)
Libretto by Jaan Kross
Based on the play by Edmond Rostand
Estonian National Opera symphony orchestra and chorus
Conductor Paul Mägi
Assistant conductors Elmo Tiisvald and Anne Dorbek
Principal violinist Andrus Haav
Recorded 1999–2000 at the Estonia Concert Hall, Tallinn
Booklet compiled by Elle Himma
Recorded by Maido Maadik / Estonian Radio
Booklet: 108 pages in German, English, French, and Estonian languages
Photos by Harri Rospu
Co-producer − Peeter Vähi
Special thanks to Paul Himma, Tarmo Eespere
Total time 1:48:22
Published by Bella Musica (Germany) and ERP (Estonia), 2001
Produced by ERP for CPO
Manufactured in Germany 2004 (CPO 999 832-2)
Cyrano de Bergerac, poet and cadet − Sauli Tiilikainen (baritone)
Roxane, Cyrano’s cousin − Mia Huhta (soprano)
Christian de Neuvillette, a young cadet − Mati Kõrts (tenor)
Count de Guiche − Jassi Zahharov (baritone)
Roxane’s duenna − Riina Airenne (mezzo-soprano)
Captain Castel-Jaloux, commander of the Gascon company, Cyrano’s friend − Rauno Elp (baritone)
Ragueneau, baker and poet − Juhan Tralla (tenor)
Lise, his wife − Margit Saulep (soprano)
The Friar − Ivo Kuusk (tenor)
Three tattered poets − Väino Karo (tenor), Priit Kruusement (baritone), Ain Anger (bass)
Two cadets − Mart Madiste (tenor), Märt Jakobson (bariton)
Two sentinels − Ants Kollo (tenor), Priit Kruusement (bariton)
|1||Introduction and Cyrano’s monologue. “Ho hoo! The crowd of hired killers fearing my blade”||3:59|
|2||Christian’s cavatina. “My second week in Paris and I’m deep in love”||2:27|
|3||Scene. “Hey, Lise! Come here and help me open the shutters!” (Ragueneau, Lise)||2:16|
|4||Scene. “At night in such a place, where is the fun?” (Ragueneau, the duenna)||1:47|
|5||Scene and Cyrano’s arioso. “She’ll be here at seven” (Cyrano, Lise, Ragueneau)||2:11|
|6||Scene. “Here are your ragamuffins!” ( Lise, Ragueneau, Cyrano, three tattered poets)||2:21|
|7||Roxane’s arioso and a duet with Cyrano. “Go to the chapel now and set a burning candle” (Roxane, Cyrano)||7:29|
|8||Scene. “Cyrano, hey! Our hero! We heard it all!” (Cadets’ Choir, Cyrano, Ragueneau, de Guiche, Jaloux)||4:37|
|9||Scene. “Silence! Let Cyrano now tell us his fray” (Christian, Cyrano, Jaloux, two cadets, cadets’ choir)||1:10|
|10||Cyrano’s Tale. “I went all alone along the quay” (Cyrano, Christian, two cadets)||1:50|
|11||Cyrano’s and Christian’s duet. “Come, embrace me now!” ( Cyrano, Christian, Jaloux, cadets, cadets’ choir)||4:56|
|12||Scene. Roxane’s aria. “The evening’s in the air and light is fading” (Roxane)||4:27|
|13||De Guiche’s and Roxane’s duet. “I came to tell you this, we are to besiege Arras” (Roxane, de Guiche)||3:14|
|14||Scene. “I thank you, dearest friend!” (Cyrano, Roxane, Christian)||2:21|
|15||Scene. “The day is fine and evening falls” (Roxane, Christian, Cyrano)||2:49|
|16||The Balcony Scene. “Love grew apace” (Cyrano, Christian, Roxane)||7:28|
|17||Scene. “Hey, Mademoiselle Roxane!” (The Friar, Roxane, Christian, Cyrano)||3:46|
|18||Cyrano’s Fib of the Moon Flights. “The damned Friar!” (de Guiche, Cyrano)||3:29|
|19||Scene. “A handsome couple, sir! And all thanks to you!” (The Friar, de Guiche, Roxane, Cyrano)||1:12|
|1||(20) Jaloux’s arioso. “Ah, listen to those airs of distant home”(Jaloux)||2:45|
|2||(21) Scene and Christian’s aria. “Ah, they’re firing. They’ll wake my men!” (Jaloux, Cyrano, Sentinels, Christian)||3:56|
|3||(22) Scene. “The sleep’s mercy now is gone” (Jaloux, two cadets, the cadets’ choir, Cyrano, de Guiche, Christian)||4:50|
|4||(23) Scene. “What noise is that?” (Jaloux, Two sentinels, de Guiche, Roxane, Christian)||4:39|
|5||(24) The feast song of Ragueneau and the duenna. “Gentlemen! I treat you to a feast!” (Ragueneau, the duenna, cadets’ choir)||2:02|
|6||(25) The feast and the duet. “Some more of this” (Roxane, Christian, Ragueneau, the duenna, the cadets’ choir)||4:28|
|7||(26) Christian’s death. “Hey, Cyrano! Roxane is not in love with me” (Christian, Cyrano, Roxane, Jaloux)||5:08|
A street in Paris. In the darkness, Cyrano and a company of unknowns are having a fight. Cyrano comes out the winner, yet he is not too proud of his victory, knowing that even the fiercest fighting cannot change anything about his destiny. Cyrano’s destiny is sealed by his looks – it is his nose that he considers to be so ugly, so abominable that he doesn’t dare declare his love to the beautiful Roxane.
From the conversation between Ragueneau and Lise it becomes evident that Lignière, the poet, has composed a satirical poem about one of the most prominent noblemen in the country, Count de Guiche, who’s made another proposal to Roxane – and has been declined again. The count has hired a hundred men to secretly kill Lignière by night. It is known that, if need be, Cyrano was to hasten to his fellow poet’s rescue.
Ragueneau is worried − he can’t find Cyrano. Roxane is also interested in finding Cyrano, she has sent her lady companion to look for her cousin.
Cyrano arrives, learning that Roxane wants to meet him. A party of poor poets is, as usual, fed by their well-wisher, the artistically-disposed baker. The poets speak about the fight of an unknown hero with a hundred men. The hero under discussion − Cyrano − does not pay attention to their conversation. He is writing a letter to Roxane, fearing that he won’t be able to find the right words when he meets the woman face to face. Ragueneau’s love of poetry is not limited to listening to other wordsmiths’ verses, he recites his own poem about almond cakes. The other poets, grateful for food, mercifully praise him.
Roxane tells Cyrano about being in love with… the handsome Christian. That young man has been appointed to the same company that Cyrano also serves in. Roxane pleads Cyrano to protect the young man from the teasing and quarrelsome cadets of Gascoigne.
The cadets sing praises to Cyrano, a man admirably sharp of both wit and sword. Captain Jaloux presents the brave company to Count de Guiche. The Count offers Cyrano an opportunity to introduce his plays to Cardinal Richelieu. The poet’s proud refusal offends de Guiche, who knows that his revenge on Lignière also failed because of Cyrano.
The cadets laugh at the unexperienced Christian. When Cyrano tells about his adventures, Christian wants to show off and starts to make fun of Cyrano’s nose. Cyrano checks himself, for Roxane has asked him to protect Christian. When they are alone, Cyrano tells the young man of Roxane’s love and about her anticipation of his letter. Alas, Christian is not any good at expressing his feelings. Cyrano promises to help, he already has a letter ready.
The scene is set in front of Roxane’s house. Roxane, ever more charmed by Christian, believes that via Christian’s beautiful words she has learned everything there is to know about the man’s soul. She does not suspect, of course, that those words were actually Cyrano’s.
Before leaving for war, De Guiche comes to bid farewell to Roxane. Roxane suggests that de Guiche should leave Cyrano’s regiment in Paris. This she does as if to annoy Cyrano, although she is really worried about Christian. Cyrano finds out that Roxane expects to hear an improvised love-confession from Christian at their next meeting. Christian in his turn is loath to avail himself of someone else’s wordmanship any more, he is quite assured of Roxane’s love now. And thus it comes to pass that in his own words Christian tells Roxane about his passion for her. This is disastrous. Roxane is leaving. The situation is barely saved by Cyrano who stands in the shadow of the balcony and once more lends his mind to Christian − speaking for the latter, Cyrano takes the chance to – anonymously – confess his own love for Roxane.
A Capuchin monk brings Roxane a letter from de Guiche, who, in preference to heroic deeds on the battlefield, has retreated to the peace and calm of a monastery. He wants to come and see Roxane at once. Roxane reads out the letter, changing its contents. She announces that de Guiche has ordered her to immediately marry Christian.
Telling irresistibly funny stories, a disguised Cyrano detains the just-arrived de Guiche. By the time the count recognizes Cyrano, the two lovers have been wed by the monk. Without further delay, the furious de Guiche orders that Cyrano’s and Christian’s company be sent to the battlefield. Acting on Christian’s behalf, Cyrano assures Roxane that Christian will regularly write to her.
The army camp at Arras. The company has been surrounded by the enemy. The soldiers suffer from hunger. Every morning Cyrano undertakes a dangerous trip through the enemy lines to send letters to Roxane, whom Christian misses very much.
De Guiche announces that an offence operation is due shortly. Christian wants to send his last letter to Roxane; Cyrano already has it written.
To everybody’s great amazement Roxane, her lady companion and Ragueneau arrive at the camp. They have sneaked through the battle zone in their carriage and have brought along some delicious food.
Roxane apologizes to Christian; she admits that she used to love the young man for his beauty alone, but now she wouldn’t care if he lost it. A puzzled Christian tells Cyrano the story and asks him to explain everything to Roxane. Christian comes to think that Roxane should choose between him and Cyrano.
Cyrano is about to make the matter clear to Roxane, but at this very moment Jaloux brings the tragic news of Christian’s death. For Cyrano, this makes any further explanations impossible.
The battle begins.
Following Christian’s death, Roxane has spent fifteen years in a convent. Cyrano has paid her visits every week. At the moment, Roxane is again expecting Cyrano to arrive.
Jaloux asks Roxane’s lady companion to warn Cyrano that certain courtiers are conspiring to kill him. But already it is too late. Ragueneau enters to tell that he witnessed a heavy oak log being thrown at Cyrano’s head from a window. Cyrano, as it’s reported, lies in bed with a serious wound.
Nevertheless, Cyrano comes to visit Roxane. It’s just that for the first time over all these years Cyrano is being late. Roxane, however, knows nothing about his injuries. Cyrano asks Roxane to give him Christian’s last letter. And although it is dark outside, Cyrano reads it aloud, word for word – he knows the letter by heart. Only now everything becomes clear to Roxane: “It was your soul that made me tremble…”
Jaloux and Ragueneau rush into the room, they are deeply worried about Cyrano. Yet it’s from Cyrano’s lips that Roxane hears the final news: “Today your cousin Cyrano was struck down by a log”.
Sauli Tiilikainen has studied singing in Helsinki, Vienna and New York under Pekka Salomaa, Matti Tuloisela, Erich Werba, Rita Streich and Tom Krause. He made his debut in 1981 and the same year he won the 3rd price at the Vienna International Hugo Wolf Competition as well as the 2nd price at the Lappeenranta Singing Competition. In 1992 Sauli Tiilikainen was appointed a soloist of the Finnish National Opera. Thus far he has performed nearly 50 opera roles, including Onegin (Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin), Figaro (Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia), di Posa (Verdi’s Don Carlo), Germont (Verdi’s La traviata), Papageno (Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte), Valmonte (Sallinen’s The Palace), Count (Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro). As a guest soloist Sauli Tiilikainen has appeared at opera theaters in Washington, Vienna, Stockholm, Tallinn and Riga. He has performed together with orchestras as well as given solo concerts. He has also appeared in a number of opera-productions on TV (Alex, Grand Hotel and Angelika, Aulis Sallinen’s The Palace, Swedish TV’s Lionardo).
Mia Huhta was born in 1969 in Kokkola, Finland. At the Conservatoire of Kokkola she initially studied the flute and the piano, later switched to studying singing with Sirkka Haavisto. From 1991 to 1992 she furthered her studies at the Utrecht High School of Music in Netherlands with Udo Reinemann. In 1993 she continued to study both opera and solo singing at the Sibelius Academy with Marjut Hannula and prof. Liisa Linko-Malmio; her present supervisor at the Academy is Taina Piira. Mia Huhta has also attended lied studies with Francoise le Roux, Mitsuko Shirai, Hartmut Höll, Rudolf Jansen and Ilmo Ranta. She has participated in numerous large-scale productions with various orchestras: the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra (Händel’s Messiah), the Tampere Philharmonic (Bach’s Magnificat), the Osaka Symphony Orchestra (Sibelius’ Kullervo), the Tampere Chamber Orchestra (Bach’s Easter Oratorio), the Avanti Chamber Orchestra and the Baroque Orchestra (Händel’s oratorio Jephta and Bach’s Christmas Oratorio). Mia Huhta’s opera roles include Atalanta in Händel’s Xerxes and Finnish composer Jalkanen’s Seitsemän huivia; she has also performed Susanna in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro and Micaela in Bizet’s Carmen.
A graduate from the Estonian Academy of Music in 1987, Mati Kõrts has furthered his education in Riga with Janis Sprogis and attended Shen Xiang’s master-class in Savonlinna in 1990. From 1981 to 1986 Mati Kõrts was engaged at the Estonian National Opera as a chorus singer, since then he has become a soloist. In 1988 he won the first prize of the G Ots Singing Competition. His repertoire comprises the following roles: Albert in Britten’s “Albert Herring”, Count Almaviva in Rossini’s “Il barbiere di Siviglia”, Basilio in Mozart’s “Le nozze di Figaro”, Eisenstein in J Strauss’ “Die Fledermaus”, Xerxes in Händel’s “Xerxes”, Prince in Dargomyzhsky’s “Rusalka” etc. He has stepped out also as a chamber and oratorio singer, performing Honegger’s “Jeanne d’Arc au bucher”, Mozart’s “Requiem” and “Coronation Mass”, etc.
Paul Mägi has graduated from the Estonian Academy of Music in 1980 as a trumpet player and from the Moscow State Conservatoire (1984, under Prof Gennady Rozhdestvensky) as a conductor.
In 1978 he founded the Estonian Radio Chamber Orchestra and was its artistic director and chief conductor. From 1984 to 1991 Paul Mägi was engaged as a conductor at the Estonian National Opera. Critics praised him for his sensitivity and style of the interpretations of Händel’s Alcina, Tubin’s The Parson of Reigi and the ballets by Denissov (Confession) and Prokofiev (Romeo and Juliet). He conducted also guest performances at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and at the Händel-Festspiele in Germany.
As a guest conductor Paul Mägi has directed outstanding orchestras in Germany, Spain, Ukraine, Norway, Italy, Bulgaria, Poland Switzerland, Ecuador, Finland, Sweden, Ireland and Russia (the Moscow Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, the Wexford Festival Opera, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Sweden, to name but a few).
From 1990 to 1994 Paul Mägi was the artistic director and chief conductor of the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra in Riga. He toured with the Latvian orchestra in Europe, taking in some of the most famous concert-halls of Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria etc. The orchestra participated in international festivals like Festival Costa do Estoril in Portugal, Chichester Festivities in Great Britain, Wiltz Festival in Luxembourg, Festival de Wallonie in Belgium, Festival de Saint-Riquier, Festival Hardelot in France, Glasperlenspiel Festival in Estonia; they played at Amsterdam’s famous Concertgebow and at Fetes Musicales en Touraine they performed together with S Richter.
In addition to being a highly acclaimed conductor, Paul Mägi is also a prominent jazz violinist. He has appeared at the Debrecen Festival in Hungary, he has played in Bulgaria, Cuba, Finland, Germany, Belgium, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, the USA and elsewhere. Paul Mägi has performed the late Alfred Schnittke’s First Symphony together with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall in London and with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Boston.
1995–2004 Paul Mägi was the artistic director and chief conductor of the Estonian National Opera. He was the music director and conductor of many productions, including J Strauss’ Wiener Blut and Die Fledermaus, Nicolai’s Die lustige Weiber von Windsor, Puccini’s La Bohème, Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Verdi’s Nabucco and La traviata Bizet’s Carmen, Dargomyzhsky’s Rusalka.
Last recordings: Symphonies Nos 1–2 and 4–5 by Fridrich Bruk.
The Estonian National Opera, established in the year 1906, is a historic organisation with vital traditions and manifold functions.
The EsNO’s season, lasting 10 months from Sep until Jun, contains a varied repertoire of opera, ballet, operetta, musicals and children’ pieces. Around 250 performances of up to 30 different works are presented annually, including the cream of classical opera and operetta as well as contemporary masterpieces. On the top of that, the best works of Estonian origin are also shown on our stage!
The Estonian National Opera is the home of the symphony orchestra, the opera choir and the ballet.
The orchestra was founded in 1907 and it now employs almost a hundred musicians. In addition to its theatre assignments, the orchestra regularly performs symphonic works and records world classics as well as the best of Estonian music. The 54-strong opera choir, besides participating in stage productions, consistently gives concerts on its own as well. The EsNO employs as many as 25–30 soloists. As a compliment to that, it welcomes guest singers on a regular basis. The EsNO ballet, existing within the framework of the opera company and employing approximately 60 dancers, is the country’s largest ballet troupe. Young choreographers are constantly enriching its repertoire of standard favourites with contemporary pieces and occasional avant-garde projects.
In order to stay open to new ideas and fresh approaches, The EsNO always makes space and time in its working schedule for joint projects of multifarious nature, and for individual guest artists. For the latter to bring their unique experience onto our stage; for the Estonian audience, to partake of a different artistic vision.
In many ways, from diversifying its repertoire to renovating the opera house, The EsNO is still a constantly developing company. There is, however, one constant in our work: being a national company, the EsNO’s primary goal is to maintain the highest possible standards of music making and theatre production in Estonia.
Symbolically speaking, the EsNO’s location in the heart of Estonia’s capital city, Tallinn, is a reflection of the company’s artistic position – at the centre of Estonian culture.
Other records of Estonian National Opera released on ERP: “Estonia” – 100 (11 CD jubilee-box), Artist Chagall, Verdi Wagner 200, DVD Wallenberg, DVD Coppélia, DVD Modigliani − the Cursed Artist, DVD Faust, CD + bonus DVD Voices of the Estonian National Opera / Estonia ooperihääled, DVD Georg Udukübara aaria