WAO Playlist Series XII Curated by Daniele Foti-Cuzzola
To coincide with West Australian Opera and Visit Perth’s brand new digital series – Cooking with Opera, presenter Daniele Foti-Cuzzola has curated this week’s playlist which includes some of the arias that inspired some of the show stopping dishes behind the series.
O Mio Babbino Caro – Maria Callas
This aria was the first to ever have an impact on me and it probably comes as no surprise to anyone that knows me that I first heard it while watching a cooking show. It was an episode of Nigella Lawson’s Italian inspired cooking series – Nigellisima, and this aria came on during a poignant moment in the episode where Nigella was reflecting on her time in Venice with her late sister who had died of cancer. The music combined with the beautiful visuals of Venice and Nigella’s poignant words really had an impact on me and I remember immediately having to find the name of the song. This aria, in particular, Maria Calla’s version has remained my favourite ever since.
Vissi d’arte – Maria Callas
Puccini’s Tosca and leading lady of the same name are so beloved that there’s even a dessert dedicated to them. The Tosca Tart is said to originate from Scandinavia but there are variations throughout Europe in particular in Sweeden and Denmark which just proves how universally loved Puccini’s work is. The main ingredient is almonds which reflects the bittersweet ending for Puccini’s leading lady Tosca. The most well-known aria from this opera is Vissi d’arte where Tosca sings of her fate.
C’est le ciel qui m’evoie -Mark Minkowski, Felicity Lott
This is a duet between forbidden lovers Paris and Helen of Troy – whose beauty launched a thousand ships into the battle of Troy. This beautiful aria is from Jacque Offenbach’s opera buffa – La Belle Helene. There was so much hype around the premiere of Offenbach’s work that one of the world’s most celebrated chefs, Auguste Escoffier dedicated an original dessert to the opera – Le Poires Belle Helene. The dessert was the inspiration for West Australian Opera’s collaboration with Brookfield Place’s Heritage Wine Bar where Head Chef Matthew Carulei put his own unique spin on the dessert.
Barcarole -Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca
And speaking of Offenbach he also wrote another of my favourite arias – Barcarole from The Tales of Hoffman. This aria is used as a recurring motif in one of my all-time favourite films – La Vita e’ Bella (Life is Beautiful). I particularly love this version performed by Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca. Another popular aria from Tales of Hoffman is Scintille Diamant which you can stream as part of West Australian Opera’s Ghost Light Series.
Vesti La Giubba – Enrico Caruso
The Opera Monte Carlo hosted some of the world’s biggest operatic names. This opera house is so beloved that the Godfather of Haute Cuisine August Escoffier even named a pasta dish after the opera house – the ravioli alla Monegasque which Balthazar has recreated for our Cooking with Opera series. Among the opera houses, most beloved performers was Enrico Caruso. The Neapolitan-born opera singer is considered one of the world’s greatest opera singers and his recording of Vesti La Giubba from Pagliacci was the first recording to ever sell over a million copies. You can also stream Paul O’Neill’s rendition of Vesti La Giubba as part of West Australian Opera’s Ghost Light Opera series.
O Sole Mio – Enrico Caruso
When thinking of Caruso and pasta one song that immediately comes to mind is O Sole Mio. Caruso had a love/hate relationship with his home city of Naples after he was booed during a performance there early on in his career. Caruso declared he would only ever return to Naples for pasta. Despite his ill feelings towards his home city, Caruso seems so at home signing in his native Neapolitan. This song is quite sentimental for me too as it was a staple at many Italian family gatherings.
Mi Chiamano Mimi – Dame Nellie Melba
Australia’s very own Dame Nellie Melba was so widely loved that not only is she featured on our one hundred dollar note she also has two dishes named after her by one of the world’s most acclaimed chef’s August Escoffier. Considered the Godfather of Haute Cuisine, Escoffier created the Melba Toast and the classic Peach Melba in honour of the soprano – the latter which is the inspiration behind our collaboration with Northbridge gelateria Chicho Gelato. Melba performed some of the most iconic roles but I’ve included her recording of ‘Mi Chiamano Mimi’ from La Boheme as La Boheme was the first opera I ever saw. I distinctly remember being blown away by West Australian Opera’s 2013 production and again in 2018 as part of City of Perth’s Opera in the Park.
Casta Diva – Dame Joan Sutherland
Bellini’s Norma was considered such a masterpiece that when Bellini’s good friend, Sicilian poet, Nino Martolgio tried a brand new pasta dish for the first time he exclaimed ‘this is a real Norma’, comparing the pasta dish to the rave reviews Bellini’s opera was receiving at the time. Since then Pasta Alla Norma has gone on to become a quintessential Sicilian dish that is enjoyed all around the world. Guy Grossi’s restaurant Garum, have recreated this iconic pasta dish for our Cooking with Opera series which incorporates traditional ingredients from Bellini’s birthplace – Sicily. Norma is also remembered for being one of the most difficult operatic roles to sing and many iconic sopranos have undertaken the role including Dame Joan Sutherland who was one of the original patrons of West Australian Opera. This recording is from a production she starred in alongside the great Pavarotti.
Ah Non Credea Mirati – Maria Callas
In addition to Norma, Bellini is most remembered for his work in La Sonnambula. In fact the line from this aria “Ah! Non credea mirati / si presto estinto, o fiore” (I did not believe you would fade so soon, Oh flower” is actually inscribed on Bellini’s tomb in the Cathedral of his home city Catania. You can also stream this aria as part of West Australian Opera’s Ghost Light Opera series.
La Vie en Rose – Edith Piaf
The beloved Parisian opera house – Palais Garnier is such a showstopper that even a dessert was dedicated to the building. French pastry maker Cyriaque Gavillon’s wife, Andrea coined the term “Opera Cake” for her husband’s cake as she believed the layers of cake resembled the grand staircase of the opera house. This Parisian dessert is the inspiration for our Opera Cake Doughnut with Mary Street Bakery. And there’s no other aria that transports you to Paris quite like Edith Piaf’s La Vie en Rose. This song also takes me back to a few years ago in Paris, when it was midnight and I was atop the Eiffel tower and had La Vie en Rose playing on my iPod. It’s as cliché as anything but it felt like a movie moment. You can stream Fiona Campbell’s rendition of La Vie en Rose as part of West Australian Opera’s Ghost Light Opera Series.
A Little Priest -Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter
Cooking with Opera isn’t the first time West Australian Opera has collaborated with local restaurants and eateries. Last year West Australian Opera teamed up with Mary Street Bakery on a limited edition Sweeney Todd pie that resembled Mrs. Lovett’s pies from the opera. This hilarious aria was the inspiration for that bloody delicious collaboration.
Be our Guest – Angela Lansbury, Jerry Orbach and Chorus
It’s not an aria but I don’t think there’s a musical number that better sums up the excitement of eating out than Be Our Guest from Beauty and the Beast. While Cooking with Opera is about showing how opera has enriched our cultural landscape beyond just arts and entertainment – it’s also about going out to the Perth CBD and supporting local. So continue to watch the videos every Sunday, stream our exciting digital initiatives and head out to these fantastic eateries, Visit Perth and “Be Our Guest”.