Walt Disney chooses the Opera to talk about himself and tell his stories
"I know you / I walked with you once upon a dream / I know you / That look in your eyes is so familiar, a gleam / And I know it's true / That visions are seldom all they seem / But if I know you, I know what you'll do / You'll love me at once / The way you did once upon a dream / But if I know you, I know what you'll do / You'll love me at once / The way you did once upon a dream / I know you / I walked with you once upon a dream / I know you / That gleam in your eyes is so familiar, a gleam / And I know it's true / That visions are seldom all they seem / But if I know you, I know what you'll do / You'll love me at once / The way you did once upon a dream"
Thus sang Aurora while meeting for the first time the handsome Prince Philip. We are talking about the movie Sleeping Beauty, a Disney theatrical animated feature film released in 1959 and inspired by the homonymous fairy tale by Charles Perrault. The Sleeping Beauty (in Italian La Bella Addormentata) was one of the most well-finished films, in all its aspects, by the American animator, who wanted a soprano to give voice to the beautiful princess. We are talking about the American artist Mary Costa (Knoxville, 5 aprile 1930) who was chosen for her qualities by “uncle” Walt himself.
Walt Disney was very struck by the audition of the young woman, so much so that he called her personally a few hours later to inform her that he had obtained the part. Her performance has remained so impressed in everyone's heart that, as Nunziante Valoroso, a Disney cinema expert, tells us, "Mary Costa, a delightful soprano personally chosen by Walt Disney as the voice of the most fascinating princess, the beautiful Aurora [...] , was awarded in 1999 ". In fact, "starting in 1987 the Walt Disney Company rewards with a special recognition those who have contributed over the years with their talent to the success of the production company." That's why Costa received the "Disney Legend Award" in November 1999 and left the imprint of her hands on the "Disney Legend Plaza" at the entrance to the Studios. It is always Valoroso to inform us also that "her role in the Disney animated feature brought her luck and, immediately afterwards, she embarked on a brilliant career in Opera".
Since 1964, indeed, she was a regular singer employed by the Metropolitan Opera House in New York where she played prestigious roles such as Violetta in Traviata (Verdi), Manon in the homonymous Opera by Massenet, Marguerite in Faust (Gounod) or Musetta in La Bohème by Puccini.
But The Sleeping Beauty reserves another small surprise regarding the Opera. If the voice of the princess in the original dubbing is entrusted to the soprano Mary Costa, in the Italian version the voice of the handsome Prince Philip is entrusted to a tenor. Sergio Tedesco (1928-2012), Italian actor, dubber and tenor, was chosen to give voice to the prince who will have to save his beautiful princess with the kiss of true love. And his performance had nothing to envy to that of his American colleague.
Thanks to the voices of these artists, Sleeping Beauty is a dreamy film, where music and love meet in dreams, to then become reality. This movie shows us that the Opera is everywhere, even when it does not seem so, and it is always there, ready to fascinate and excite us.
Original article by Martina Corona
Translated by Dario Medaglia