Musical Marination


Listen to this: Operatic Aesthetics

As always, if you have any suggested listenings, please email me with your suggestions (check out my contact form).  Thanks!

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Mozart.  He did, after all, write the definitive clarinet concerto (well, at least according to some).  But Mozart did something else for me, which was completely unexpected.  He made me like opera.

Yes.  That’s right.

I didn’t really have much exposure to opera prior to 2000, when I went to study in Austria for a semester.   The experience I had had wasn’t overwhelming.  I wasn’t partial to operatic voices, and I hadn’t heard anything which wooed me.  However, while in Austria, I attended a performance of Mozart’s Magic Flute, the last opera he wrote (1791).  I was floored.  Completely astounded.

It was pleasing to the eye and the ear, all at once!  It was like an aesthetic paradise.

This week’s selection is one of the more famous arias from this opera, the Queen of the Night aria.  It demands vocal gymnastics from the soprano singing it, and it still gives me the chills.  The video excerpt is from the movie Amadeus (historically inaccurate, but a good movie nevertheless).  It doesn’t present the beginning of the aria, but it gives you an idea of the virtuosity required.

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3 Responses to 'Listen to this: Operatic Aesthetics'

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  1. M8 said,

    …and here is the counter-example of how not to sing it…

    florence foster jenkins dreamed of being an opera singer (like myself). She did not have much talent (like myself), but happened to be quite rich. So she just rented the met, the orchestra, the other musicians, etc. and staged a Magic Flute where she performed the queen of the night. And this is a record of how she sang this aria in the studio. It’s quite popular on youtube…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence_Foster_Jenkins

    • Rivki said,

      Oh my, that really is quite bad! It’s fascinating what some people do when they have money. There was a community orchestra I played with once which was started by the owner of a Subway franchise who wanted to conduct, so he started an orchestra in his small town. While he wasn’t a fabulous conductor, I didn’t much care since I got to play some great pieces AND I got paid for it. 🙂

  2. M8 said,

    here is a great video: Horowitz in the studio, listening to a recording he just made…


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