Renowned 19th century operatic composer Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) presented us with many melodic masterpieces. Tosca’s E lucevan le stelle, Madama Butterfly’s Un bel di, vedremo, Gianni Schicchi’s Oh! mio babbino caro and Turandot’s Nessun dorma! are familiar to most and deeply appreciated by music fans the world over.
Utilizing these themes I arranged Puccini’s Opera Arias for the Euphonium Tuba Company Quartet’s first recording in 2011. Not only can performers and audience enjoy these beloved melodies, it’s also an excellent study for sectional and ensemble rehearsal and development.
The introduction boldly quotes Nessun dorma followed by the string quartet entrance at A of E lucevan le stele. 1st Euphonium takes the melody, passing it to 2nd Euphonium at the end of the third measure. Carefully sustain the melodic flow between such transitions. As the aria is presented, 2nd Euphonium and 1st and 2nd Tuba’s countermelody is essential to maintaining the musical direction. Most of Un bel dì, vedremo’s melody is performed by 1st Euphonium and 1st Tuba in octaves. Attend to balance and phrasing for the melody and syncopation accuracy in the accompaniment. Oh! mio babbino caro has the two euphoniums trading off the lead. 1st Tuba should play softly like the harp in the original. Finally, Nessun dorma!’s scoring is condensed, so melodic balance must be adjusted via relative dynamics. The concluding three notes are simple, yet must be profoundly presented.