Repertoire for Singers

Vilja (Lehár): Beverley Chiat (Soprano), Albert Combrink (Piano) LIVE VIDEO

“Vilja-Lied” by Franz Lehár (1870-1909) – Merry Widow/Die lustige Witwe (Operetta) : Act 2 Vilja-Lied [Hanna Glawari's Aria] Beverley Chiat (Soprano), Albert Combrink (Piano) Live Amateur Video filmed at the “Save a Child’s Heart” Foundation Fundraising Concert held at the Hugo Lamprechts Auditorium, Parrow, Cape Town. Es lebt’  eine Vilja, ein Waldmägdelein…. Vilja, o Vilja, […]

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“Vilja-Lied” by Franz Lehár (1870-1909) – Merry Widow/Die lustige Witwe (Operetta) : Act 2 Vilja-Lied [Hanna Glawari's Aria]
Beverley Chiat (Soprano), Albert Combrink (Piano)
Live Amateur Video filmed at the “Save a Child’s Heart” Foundation Fundraising Concert held at the Hugo Lamprechts Auditorium, Parrow, Cape Town.

Es lebt’  eine Vilja, ein Waldmägdelein….
Vilja, o Vilja, Du Waldmägdelein     O Vilja, you little woods-maiden,
Fass’ mich und lass’ mich             Take me and let me
Dein Trautliebster sein!            Be our dearest true love!

For more information see:
Albert Combrink: http://www.albertcombrink.com
Beverley chiat: http://www.facebook.com/pages/BEVERLEY-CHIAT-SOPRANO/63099094856

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Caruso (Dalla): Beverley Chiat, Nicci Cencerle, Albert Combrink LIVE VIDEO

Live Amateur Video: “Save A  Child’s Heart” Fundraising concert held at Hugo Lamprechts Music Center, Cape Town Beverley Chiat (Soprano) /Nicola Cencerle (Tenor) / Albert Combrink (Piano) “Caruso” is a song written by Italian singer-songwriter Lucio Dalla in 1986. It is dedicated to Enrico Caruso, an Italian tenor. The song tells about the pain and […]

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Albert Combrink, Beverley Chiat, Nicci cencerle

Live Amateur Video: “Save A  Child’s Heart” Fundraising concert held at Hugo Lamprechts Music Center, Cape Town

Beverley Chiat (Soprano) /Nicola Cencerle (Tenor) / Albert Combrink (Piano)

“Caruso” is a song written by Italian singer-songwriter Lucio Dalla in 1986. It is dedicated to Enrico Caruso, an Italian tenor. The song tells about the pain and longings of a man who is about to die while he is looking into the eyes of a girl who was very dear to him

For more information see:
Albert Combrink: http://www.albertcombrink.com
Beverley chiat: http://www.facebook.com/pages/BEVERLEY-CHIAT-SOPRANO/63099094856

“CARUSO” (Song): Italian Lyrics

Qui dove il mare luccica e tira forte il vento
Su una vecchia terrazza davanti al golfo di Surriento
Un uomo abbraccia una ragazza dopo che aveva pianto
Poi si schiarisce la voce e ricomincia il cant
Te voglio bene assaie ma tanto tanto bene sai
É una catena ormai che scioglie il sangue dint’e vene sai

Vide le luci in mezzo al mare pensó alle notti lá in America
Ma erano solo le lampare e la bianc scia di un’elica
Senti il dolore nella musica si alzó dal pianoforte
Ma quando vide la luna uscire da una nuvola
Gli sembró piú dolce anche la morte
Guardó negli occhi la ragazza quegli occhi verdi come il mare
Poi all’improvviso usci una lacrima e lui credette di affogare
Te voglio bene assaie ma tanto tanto bene sai
É una catena ormai che scioglie il sangue dint’e vene sai

Potenza della lirica dove ogni dramma é un falso
Che con un pó di trucco e con la mimica puoi disventare un altro
Ma due occhi che ti guardano cosi vicini e veri
Ti fan scordare le parole confondono i pensieri
Cosí diventa tutto piccolo anche le notti lá in America
Ti volti e vedi la tua vita come lá scia di un’elica
Ma si é la vita che finisce ma lui non ci pensó poi tanto
Anzi si sentiva giá felice e ricominció il suo canto
Te voglio bene assaie ma tanto tanto bene sai
É una catena ormai che scioglie il sangue dint’e vene sai
Te voglio bene assaie ma tanto tanto bene sai
É una catena ormai che scioglie il sangue dint’e vene sai

“CARUSO” (song) ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Here, where the sea glistens
and the wind blows strong,
on an old terrace
in front of the gulf of Sorrento,
a man hugs a girl
after she cries,
then clears his voice
and continues the song:

I love you very much
very, very much, you know;
it is a chain by now
that heats the blood inside the veins,
you know…

He saw the lights in the ocean,
thought of the nights there in America,
but it was just the lamp lights
and the trail of a propeller.
He felt the pain in the music
and got up from the piano,
but when he saw the moon
coming out of a cloud,
even death looked sweeter.
He looked the girl in the eyes,
green eyes like the ocean.
Then suddenly a tear came
and he thought he was drowning.

I love you very much,
very, very much, you know;
it is a chain by now
that heats the blood inside the veins,
you know…

The power of the lyric,
where every drama is false;
with a bit of make-up and pantomime
you can become someone else.
But two eyes staring at you,
so close and so true,
make you forget the words,
they confuse your thoughts,
so everything becomes so little,
even the nights here in America.
You turn and see your life
like the trail of a propeller.
Yes, it is life that ends
and he didn’t think about it much,
and actually, he already felt happy
and continued singing:

I love you very much,
very, very much, you know;
it is a chain by now
that heats the blood inside the veins,
you know…

Read more: http://artists.letssingit.com/josh-groban-lyrics-caruso-r7bwfsx#ixzz2NSPU1WUZ
LetsSingIt – Your favorite Music Community
Mrs_Tyler_Royce
 
12 posts
translation

Here, where the sea shines
and the wind howls,
on the old terrace
beside the gulf of Sorrento,
a man embraces a girl
after the tears,
then clears his throat
and contines the song:
I love you very much
very, very much, you know;
it is a chain by now
that heats the blood inside the veins,
you know…

He saw the lights out on the sea,
thought of the nights there in America,
but they were only the fishermen’s lamps
and the white wash astern.
He felt the pain in the music
and stood up from the p iano,
but when he saw the moon
emergin from a cloud,
death also seemed sweeter to him.
He looked the girl in the eyes,
those eyes as green as the sea.
Then suddenly a tear fell
and he believed he was drowning.

I love you very much,
very, very much, you know;
it is a chain by now
that heats the blood inside the veins,
you know…

The power of opera,
where every drama is a hoax;
with a little make-up and with mime
you can become someone else.
But two eyes that look at you,
so close and real,
make you forget the words,
confuse your thoughts,
so everything becomes small,
also the nights there in America.
You turn and see your life
through the white wash astern.
But, yes, it is life that ends
and he did not think much about it,
on the contrary, he already felt happy
and continued his song:

I love you very much,
very, very much, you know;
it is a chain by now
that heats the blood inside the veins,
you know…

Read more: http://artists.letssingit.com/josh-groban-lyrics-caruso-r7bwfsx#ixzz2NSPG0Gdz
LetsSingIt – Your favorite Music Community
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Mozart’s “Laudate Dominum” K339 – An evening prayer for all times

Laudate Dominum from the  “Vesperae solennes de Confessore” KV 339 Movement 5 Psalm 117 was a source of inspiration to great classical composers of all times. A most famous musical setting of the text is W. A. Mozart’s, in which it is sung by soprano solo with chorus and is the fifth of six parts […]

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Laudate Dominum from the  “Vesperae solennes de Confessore” KV 339 Movement 5

Psalm 117 was a source of inspiration to great classical composers of all times. A most famous musical setting of the text is W. A. Mozart’s, in which it is sung by soprano solo with chorus and is the fifth of six parts of a larger piece known as the Vesperae solennes de confessore (K.339). It was commissioned by the Archbishop of Salzburg, Hieronymus von Colloredo and composed in September 1780 in Salzburg.

Archbishop Count Hieronymus Joseph Franz de Paula Graf Colloredo von Wallsee und Melz (1732-1812)

Colloredo is well known to history as a patron and employer of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He became exceptionally annoyed with Mozart’s frequent absences. After a number of arguments, he ultimately dismissed him with the words, “Soll er doch gehen, ich brauche ihn nicht!” (“May he leave, I don’t need him!”). Leopold Mozart stayed in Salzburg but “continued to bemoan the failure to replace musicians who had left or died, and the consequent shambles in the court music.”  Colloredo sometimes played the violin in the court orchestra.

Vesperae solennes de confessore (K.339)is made up of musical settings of 5 Psalms and was used in the Roman Catholic liturgy known as Vespers. The original manuscript is lost presumed destroyed in the Second World War. Vespers is the sunset evening prayer service in the Western Catholic, Eastern (Byzantine) Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran liturgies of the canonical hours. The word comes from the Greek ἑσπέρα and the Latin vesper, meaning “evening.” It is also referred to in the Anglican tradition as Evening Prayer or Evensong. The term is also used in some Protestant denominations (such as the Presbyterian Church or Seventh-day Adventist Church) to describe evening services. While very little is known regarding the circumstances of the commission of this work , J. Frank Henderson wrote a very interesting article on the possible liturgical occasions in Salzburg for which this work might have been commissioned. According to his research it seems probable that the occasion for which Mozart composed his Vesperae Solennes de Confessore (K 339) was first vespers of a feast of St Rupert on September 24, 1780. As an alternative, it seems possible that this occasion was a feast of St Virgil on September 28. [Henderson, P.20]

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

It is scored for small ensemble, the humble forces belying the power of the music to transport and beguile: 2 violins, bassoon and cello support a Soprano Soloist and an SATB 4part choir. It is possible to perform the work without the chorus, with the soprano singing the main melody instead of the choral sopranos. This requires only slight adjustment of the vocal line at the return of the solo soprano.

The Text for Laudate Dominum:

Latin text

Laudate Dominum omnes gentes
Laudate eum, omnes populi
Quoniam confirmata est
Super nos misericordia eius,
Et veritas Domini manet in aeternum.

Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper.
Et in saecula saeculorum.
Amen.

English translation

Praise the Lord, all nations;
Praise Him, all people.
For He has bestowed
His mercy upon us,
And the truth of the Lord endures forever.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and forever,
and for generations of generations.
Amen.

Salzburg Cathedral Dome

Download the FULL SCORE of Mozart’s Laudate Dominum from the Vesperae solennes de confessore (K.339) Mozart: Laudate Dominum K339 FULL SCORE

Download the PIANO VOCAL  SCORE of Mozart’s Laudate Dominum from the Vesperae solennes de confessore (K.339) Mozart: Laudate Dominum K339 PIANO VOCAL SCORE

Download the SIMPLIFIED PIANO AND LATIN LYRICS of Mozart’s Laudate Dominum from the Vesperae solennes de confessore (K.339) Mozart: Laudate Dominum K339 Simplified Piano and Latin Lyrics

A full discussion of Catholic Church Vespers can be found HERE.

A site that demonstrates an ongoing LOVE AFFAIR with this beautiful work can be found HERE.

The Vesperae solennes de confessore (K.339), discussed above, is occasionally confused with Vesperae solennes de Dominica, K. 321, is a sacred work for four solo voices (soprano, alto, tenor, bass), mixed choir, orchestra and organ composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1779. It was composed in Salzburg ONE YEAR BEFORE the first Vesper setting, at the request of the Archbishop Colloredo. There are six movements, No.5 of which is also called Laudate Dominum. Download the Full score of this work HERE.

 

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“Exultate Jubilate” K165 (Mozart) – A Concerto for Voice in all but name

Exultate, Jubilate K165 (Solo Motet) – MOZART, Wolfgang Amadeus, 1756-1791 This religious SOLO MOTET was composed specifically for the feast day of the Regular Theatine Clerics, while Mozart was visiting Milan for the third time as part of his early operatic exploits and was premiered in Milan’s Church of San Antonio (pictures below) on January […]

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Exultate, Jubilate K165 (Solo Motet) – MOZART, Wolfgang Amadeus, 1756-1791

This religious SOLO MOTET was composed specifically for the feast day of the Regular Theatine Clerics, while Mozart was visiting Milan for the third time as part of his early operatic exploits and was premiered in Milan’s Church of San Antonio (pictures below) on January 17, 1773 . It was written for the CASTRATO Venanzio Rauzzini, who had sung the lead role in Mozart’s opera Lucio Sillia K. 135 in 1772, to great acclaim. The composition of the Motet was completed in great haste between the premiere of Lucio Silla on 27 December 1772 and the scheduled feast day barely three weeks later. Never mind that the soloist was performing a very demanding opera during that time himself and was probably not as available for rehearsal as one might have thought, for such a difficult work – 15 odd minutes of some very demanding singing – not to mention accompaniment, either in it’s orchestral version or in the uncomfortable piano reductions.

The motet is a good example of Mozart’s early Italianate operatic style. It also hints at where the strength of Rauzzini’s voice lay: long sustained lines in the middle range, florid and fast coloratura runs and a tender expressive quality for the recitative and central slow aria.

The work is divided into three parts:

1. Aria: Exultate, jubilate (Allegro)

- Recitative Accompagnato – Fulget amica dies

2. Aria: Tu virginum corona (Andante or Larghetto, depending on the edition)

segue without a break into:

3. Aria: Alleluia (Allegro, Allegro non Troppo or Molto Allegro depending on the edition)

This departs from the traditional “Solo Motet” shape (usually two arias, two recits and a concluding Alleluia), in that there is only one recitative and slow aria. This might indicate the rush with which Mozart completed it somewhere around Christmas 1772. As such it resembles a Three Movement Concerto for Coloratura, complete with Cadenzas at the end of each of the first two movements. The first movement is in simplified Sonata Form, further giving it the feel of an opening Concerto or Sonata movement. Also, most Sopranos alter Mozart’s written notes to introduce a high Top C at the climax of the famous “Alleluja” movement.

Although the work has a Latin Sacred text, its liturgical use is nominal compared to its concert use, beign classified as a Concert Aria – a genre in which Mozart excelled. Mozart’s liturgical music is also characteristically operatic – a feature which sometimes got him into trouble with church leaders who would have preferred more austere writing. Mozart obviously loved the voice and wrote for it with great skill and affection, and that affection bubbles through in this work. Beautiful lines designed to show off the natural beauty of a voice alternate with playful virtuosity building to a thrilling and exciting and undeniably operatic climax.

Three versions of the Motet are in existence and Richard Hamilton Armstrong and Paul F. Zweifel have written an excellent article on their differences, which can be accessed HERE.

Download a String Arrangement in G major of Exultate Jubilate HERE.

Find a SCORE  of  the Neue Deutsche Ausgabe HERE
Find a Ciritical Analysis of the Neue Deutsche Ausgabe HERE.

DOWNLOAD FREE SHEETMUSIC of the PIANO and VOICE Vocal Score of Mozart’s “Exultate Jubilate” Here:
Mozart Exultate Jubilate PianoVocal Score Klengel

MOZART, Wolfgang Amadeus, 1756-1791

The Autograph of the Motet “Exultate, Jubilate” (KV 165/158a) of the Bibliotheka Jagiellońska of Krakow. Facsimile Edition, Edited by Domenico Antonio D’Alessandro [&] Flavio Colusso. With an Essay by Rudolph Angermüller

[Motet, Exultate, Jubilate, soprano, orch, K.165/158a] Read More HERE

 Some pictures of the Milan’s Church of San Antonio where this work was Premiered in 1773 almost 240 years ago

San Antonio Church, Milan

***

San Antonio Church, Milan

Text and tranlation of “Exultate Jubilate: Kv 165

 Exsultate, jubilate,O vos animae beatae exsultate,  jubilate,dulcia cantica canendo;cantui vestro respondendopsallant aethera cum me.  Rejoice, be glad,O you blessed souls,Rejoice, be glad,Singing sweet songs;In response to your singingLet the heavens sing forth with me.
 Fulget amica dies,jam fugere et nubila et procellae;exortus est justis inexspectata quies.Undique obscura regnabat nox,surgite tandem laeti qui  timuistis adhuc,et jucundi aurorae fortunatae.frondes dextera plena et lilia date.  The friendly day shines forth,both clouds and storms have fled now;for the righteous there has arisen an unexpected calm.Dark night reigned everywhere [before];you who feared till now,and joyful for this lucky dawn give garlands and lilies with full right hand.
 Tu virginum corona,tu nobis pacem dona,tu consolare affectus,unde suspirat cor.

Alleluja.

 You, o crown of virgins,grant us peace,console our feelings,from which our hearts sigh.

Alleluja

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The Flower Duet from Madama Butterfly – Puccini’s delicious sacrifices

Beverley Chiat and Violina Anguelov perform Puccini’s beautiful “Flower Duet” from “Madama Butterfly”. Here you will read a discussion of Puccini’s relationship with women and violence, as well as the duet itself.

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Butterfly CTO
Geisha12
Cherry Blossoms
Femme-47-ronin-seppuku-p1000701
Callas Butterfly
puccini
butterfly death scene  Yunah Lee
Mattillatosca-776646
Cherry Blossom small
stanford Bev,V close up

Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini (1858 –1924)

Puccini’s private life seems to be a good subject for a soap opera. He appears to have been happily married to a good wife who was not a big music fan, but nonetheless supported him and his career for his whole life. She also had patience with a husband who entertained a number of extra-marital relations with women from all social circles. Much has been said already on the overlaps in context of Puccini’s leading ladies, both on- and offstage. In comparison with the detailed psychological exploration of his female characters, the men seem rather a more straightforward band of conventional villains, heroes and poetic lovers.

Women in Puccini’s operas have been the butt of many jokes. They seem to epitomise the worst aspects of opera. Mimi in La Boheme, while dying of consumption, nevertheless remains in good enough health to sing her way through a 20 minute death scene. The slave girl Liu stabs herself to avoid giving away the true identity of her beloved, to save his life from the icy princess Turandot. Sister Angelica drinks poison out of guilt at having been in a convent while her child died far away.

Tosca preparing to jump to her death (Karita Mattila – Met 2009)

Tosca stabs the evil Baron Scarpia, killing him violently. To avoid arrest for his murder, she flings herself off the parapet of the Castello Saint Angelo. In the theatre one hopes that she lands on the mattress placed below. In some productions - and even more urban legends – the diva occasionally misses the bulls-eye. Or even bounces back into full view of the audience.The Japanese Madama Butterfly commits Hari Kiri with the same knife with which her father killed himself  to restore honour to the family after an incident of shame. That is a lot of self-inflicted bleeding.

Yet these murders, suicides and “unhappy endings” go right to the hearts of audiences. Even in a rehearsal of La Boheme, I have seen cast and bystanders in tears at the pathos and unbearable beauty of Mimi’s last desperate love for the poet Rodolfo, and even the flighty character of Musetta responds with a depth of emotion that touches the heart. As Liu grabs her torturer’s knife and plunges it into her heart and the chorus yells “Parla! Parla!” (Speak! Speak!) the audience reacts with the same – but silent – scream.

Soprano Yunah Lee

When the American soldier Pinkerton comes rushing onstage, yelling “Butterfly! Butterfly!” as the blood and life seeps out of her self-inflicted stab-wound, the audience is also yelling a silent “Butterfly! Butterfly!” and gasping at the tragedy.

Of course, the key to all this screaming and bleeding is the exquisite music. Somehow one looks past the incongruities. A healthy, robust, Top-C-Singing soprano playing the role of a young girl, wasted away by terminal TB? A 50 year old Italian dramatic soprano who plays a 16 year old Japanese teenage mother? A massive Tosca the object of lust and desire? All is presented in multiple layers of aural meaning.

Puccini was a master at orchestration and melody, and he had an unerring sense of drama. The so-called “arias” and duets” in his operas are rarely stand-alone items, but they are built into the fabric of the drama at appropriate moments. Some even consider the lack of “applause breaks” to be a weakness in Puccini’s operas. In certain cases, conventions have developed whereby the written music is altered to create “applause moments”. It can create chaos when the audience roars its approval while the conductor and the stage-party attempt to continue. Tosca’s Visi d’arte provides a moment’s respite from all the histrionics that preceded it and the murder and attempted rape that races the act to its climax. Musetta’s waltz Quando m’en vo’ – basically a “concert-number” (an excuse for an aria) – is a break in the hustle and bustle of the Café-scene and acts as the dramatic foil for the deeper and more serious elements of the love-story of the Bohemians. And this is often the main complaint against Puccini’s arias: that they tend to hold up the drama rather than move it forward.

Some of us don’t really mind. They make some of the most glorious moments in all of opera.

Beautiful cherry blossoms

One such moment is the Duet Tutti i fior, from Madame Butterfly. Cio-cio San, the beautiful but fragile and short-lived heroine of the title, has been waiting anxiously for news of the return of her American soldier husband whom she married earlier in the opera. In her naïve youth and the flush of first love, she believed his promise to send for her on his return to America. She rejected her ancestral religion and converted to Christianity for Pinkerton’s sake and insisted that she was no longer to be called Madama Butterfly, but Madama Pinkerton instead. Pinkerton meanwhile viewed the whole experience as the colonial prerogative of a young navy officer at sea, intending to find a Butterfly in every port. Bridal contracts and house rental, according to him are done the “Japanese Way”: 999 year lease with a month-by month-option to cancel. Yet, it seems this was more the American way: back in the USA he found himself a proper American bride and had no intention of ever seeing Butterfly again.

At last – after three years of waiting – Butterfly’s prayers are answered. Her faithfulness is rewarded with a canon-shot from the harbor, announcing the arrival of the Abraham Lincoln, Lieutenant Pinkerton’s ship. What follows is one of the most exquisite scenes in the opera. An ecstatic Butterfly and her faithful maid Suzuki shake the cherry-trees in her garden, picking up the soft rain of petals. They decorate the house with flowers from her garden, strewing them everywhere, even twining them around a chair especially placed for the return of the conquering hero. “Everywhere must be full of flowers”, Butterfly sings. “As full of flowers as the night is full of stars”. As their aroma fills the house, Butterfly, in anticipation of her second wedding night with her returning husband, puts on her most exquisite make-up and even dons her wedding dress.

I gave tears to the soil. It gives its flowers to me.

The bitter-sweetness of this moment is presented in exquisitely lyric poetry and music. Butterfly’s love and naivety are clearly audible. Her excitement at the thought of shortly seeing Pinkerton is illustrated by the nervous key-changes and scurrying passages. Her sadness is underlined by darker harmonies. When she sings in anticipation of the happiness of reunion, the music soars in timeless suspended ecstasy. Suzuki, perhaps the older and wiser of the two women, keeps reminding Butterfly that stripping all the flowers from the garden would leave it bare, as winter. Butterfly is almost foolhardy in her insistence that they “bring spring inside”. Her obsessive recreation of the spring of their marriage is also a desperate attempt to console herself for the agony of the past three years. Pinkerton also uses nature imagery early in the opera when he admits that he will “play with the butterfly even if doing so will damage its wings”.

Amidst the glory and beauty of the music, and the intoxication of the scent, there is already a foreshadowing of the tragic death. In much the same way, the canon-shot which announces the arrival of Pinkerton’s ship, is symbolic of the “shot to the heart” Butterfly will receive when she can no longer deceive herself and grasps the truth. The beauty of the duet is even more poignant, as by now, the audience knows the end of the story. Even the dagger with which she will do the deed, is introduced early in the opera. Butterfly’s father had been instructed to kill himself with that exact dagger. Butterfly kills herself so that her child by Pinkerton can start a new life in America. The harmonic tensions in the passage where she send her child from the room to go and play while she kills herself, is unbearably emotional. Butterfly arouses endless pity and sympathy.

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳) (1797 – 1861) – “Onodera Junai’s Seppuku”

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳) (1797–1861) – “Onodera Junai’s Seppuku”

The reality of Hari Kiri (also known as Seppuku) was far more cruel than encountered in the orientalist romance of the opera stage. This painting depicts Onodera Junai (wife of a samurai) preparing for jigai (female version of seppuku) to follow her husband in death. Her legs are bound as to maintain a decent posture in agony. Death is given by a tanto cut at the jugular vein. This woodcut by Utagawa Kuniyoshi is from a series called Seichu gishin den, (“Story of truthful hearts”), 1848. This series is based on a true story of 47 Ronen or Samurai who had to commit Hari Kiri for having committed murder to revenge the death of their master. The story was popularized in Japanese culture as emblematic of the loyalty, sacrifice, persistence, and honour that all good people should preserve in their daily lives. To me, this example of the force of loyalty and devotion, identifies Butterfly’s suicide as the ultimate gesture of fidelity to Pinkerton and, by implication, their son.

Butterfly as Geisha

For two brief but insightful and fascinating views on the life and work-expectations of the Geisha – the work Butterfly did before her marriage - I refer you to the following excellent sites:

- Geisha Study Guide (Pacific Opera, Victoria, Canada)

- The Geisha (Okinawa Soba)

Japonisms in the “Flower Duet” – Puccini’s use of Japanese Folksongs in Madama Butterfly

Puccini definitely used some Japanese folk melodies in the score of Madama Butterfly. Tom Potter’s excellent 2006 article Japanese Songs in Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly contains sheet music and audio files of songs and where they happen in the score. None of these appear to have been used in the Flower Duet. As with large chunks of Turandot - Puccini’s other orientalist opera set in Peking – here it is clear that we are listening to a full-blooded romantic Italian composer at work. The freedom of the harmonies, the expressive fluctuations in tempo, and above all the exquisiteness of the vocal line, are all original Puccini at his best.

Viva Italia!

Beverley Chiat and Violina Angeulov will be performing the Flower Duet in various upcoming performances. You can read more about the performers and other works on the programme by clicking on the following links:

Beverley the Beautiful Butterfly

Violina Angeulov performing Durante’s “Danza, danza fanciulla”

 

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Beverley the Beautiful Butterfly – Beverley Chiat performs in “Viva Italia!”

Beverley Chiat is one of South Africa’s most outstanding lyric coloratura sopranos. Read more about her here.

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“Madama Butterfly” – Cape Town Opera 2009

Beverly Chiat will be singing the part of Butterfly in the beautiful Flower Duet from Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly in the upcoming concert Viva Italia. Chiat is partnered by Bulgarian-born Capetonian Violina Anguelov, who sang the role of Suzuki in Cape Town Opera’s exquisite 2009 and 2013 productions of Madama Butterfly.

Read more about the Flower Duet HERE.

Beverley is one of South Africa’s leading coloratura sopranos. She has performed many coloratura roles, including Mozart’s “Queen of the night” both locally and abroad. So what is a Gilda doing singing a Butterfly? As wonderful an artist as she is, her voice is not made for the entire role of Butterfly. The dramatic climaxes and chest register required would suit the colours of a Maria Callas, Leontyne Price or a Renata Tebaldi, rather than an exquisite lyric coloratura.

In recent years, the advent of technology made it possible for lighter voices to succeed in this role. Maria Callas, though definitely a Spinto, never sang the role on stage. And a heftier Montserat Caballe might be perfectly suited to the vocal demands, but perhaps less so as the delicate teenager. At least on CD, lyric sopranos such as Angela Gheorghiu, Anna Moffo, Ying Huang or the young Mirella Freni (in her first recording of the role) make a touching bevy of Butterflies. The Flower Duet is one of the most lyrical passages in the opera, and this part of Butterfly’s personality suites Bev Chiat perfectly. It is in this duet that many of the more successful “hefty” spinto sopranos fall short. A special tenderness is required to convey the tragedy of this hopeful teenager – here not yet 20 years old and mother of a 3 year old child. Beverley’s perfect legato and ease in the high range of her voice, makes listening to her in anything she sings, a pure delight. In this duet her singing conjures up the delightful aroma of the roses and cherry blossoms wafting through the rooms. The pureness of her voice conveys perfectly both the pure and the ecstatic sides of Butterfly’s personality.

The chemistry between these two performers makes this concert an event to look forward to.

 

Beverley Chiat Curriculum Vitae

Beverley Chiat is a coloratura soprano from the beautiful city of Cape Town in South Africa. She began her singing studies at the University of Cape Town (UCT) Opera School with vocal pedagogy under the guidance of Sarita Stern and opera studies with Angelo Gobbato. She graduated with a Performer’s Diploma in Opera in 1995 and was awarded a full scholarship by UCT. The award enabled Beverley to complete her postgraduate studies at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in Manchester, UK where she graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Performance. During her tenure at the RNCM Beverley was particularly noteworthy in the role of Queen of the Night in the production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. At the conclusion of her RNCM studies Beverley was awarded the prestigious Peter Moores full scholarship award as well as a full scholarship from the Royal Northern College of Music. Thereafter she traveled to Europe to audition and study Italian in Florence with a view to broadening her exposure to classic Italian masterpieces.

Beverley has a particular affinity for the opera stage. Her roles include: The Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute (Mozart),Serpetta in La Finta Giardiniera (Mozart), Oscar in Un Ballo in Maschera (Verdi), Gilda in Rigoletto (Verdi), Adele in Die Fledermaus (J Strauss), Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart), Valencienne in The Merry Widow (Lehar), Lucy in The Telephone (Menotti), Frasquita and Micaela in Carmen (Bizet) among others.

In addition to her skills as an opera singer Beverley has achieved considerable success as an oratoria singer and her substantial repertoire includes: Mozart’s Requiem, his Masses in C Major and D Minor, Motet Exulatate Jubilate; Handel’s Messiah; Mendelssohn’s Elijah; Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Choral Fantasy and Pastoral Mass; Rossini’s Stabat Mater; Haydn’s Nelson Mass; Bach’s Paukenmesse and St John’s Passion; Mahler’s Symphonies 2 and 4, and Carmina Burana by Orff. She has sung the latter with both the Birmingham Royal Ballet and more recently with the Manama Singers in Bahrain.

Beverley has performed at all the major centres of South Africa in addition to singing in Botswana, Mozambique, Bahrain and Jersey, in the Channel Islands. She has worked with a number of well-known and acclaimed conductors and music directors including: Owain Arwel Hughes, Lesley Dunner, Dr Donald Hunt, Dr Barry Smith, Philip Ellis, Richard Cock, Christopher Dowdeswell, Lawrence Dale, Angelo Gobbato, Justus Franz, Wolfgang Goennenwein and Jun Maerkl.

Apart from her accomplishments in Opera and Operetta, Beverley is equally comfortable in a variety of music genres including Musicals, Jewish Folk Song and lighter cross-over music. More recently she sang in Johannesburg for Opera Africa with Kammersaenger Johann Botha in the Opera Extravaganza and performed with the Cape Town City Ballet, singing Barcelona in their production of Queen at the Ballet.  In 2008 Beverley made her European debut to great acclaim, touring in The Netherlands as Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute for the Dutch opera company, De Nationale Reisopera.  Beverley is a part of the group Le Belle Voci and they have released their first CD - Opera deLight.

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Durante’s Danza Fanciulla – imagining the dance

Performing a song that is almost three centuries old, presents modern performers with a plethora of artistic decisions. Using art restoration such as the Sisitne Chapel as a comparison, this post explores some of the options in this delightful Aria Antiche by Durante.

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Beverley Chiat (l) & Violina Angeulov (r)

Danza, danza fanciulla is a song by Italian Baroque composer Francesco Durante (1684-1755). Loved and performed by singers across the world, this “Aria Antiche” will make part of a delightful programme Viva Italia, featuring Cape Town’s well-known singing partnership, soprano Beverley Chiat and mezzo-soprano Violina Anguelov, accompanied on the piano by Albert Combrink. The all-Italian programme includes familiar gems from the operatic repertoire – including Madama Butterfly, La Boheme and La Traviata – as well as Neapolitan songs.

Danza, danza fanciulla is a delightful invitation to the dance. The sound of the waves and the playful breeze are the accompaniment to this intoxicating frolic. Beautiful sounds such as the singing of the poet, mix with the glorious sounds of nature, inviting a young girl to let her spirit run free – and by implication also her body.

Danza, danza, fanciulla gentile (Text by an anonymous poet,  in Italian)

Danza, danza, fanciulla, al mio cantar;

danza, danza fanciulla gentile, al mio cantar.

Gira leggera, sottile al suono, al suono dell’onde del mar.

Senti il vago rumore dell’aura scherzosa

che parla al core con languido suon,

e che invita a danzar senza posa, senza posa,

che invita a danzar.

Danza, danza, fanciulla

"Girl dancing on Liquid GOld"

Dance, dance, gentle young girl

(Text by an anonymous poet, in free translation by Albert Combrink)

Dance, dance, young girl to my singing (song)

Dance, dance, gentle young girl to my (singing) song;

Twirling lightly and softly to the sound, to the sound of the waves of the sea.

Sense the vague rustling of the playful breeze

that speaks to the heart with its languid sound,

that invites you to dance without stopping, without stopping

that invites you to dance.

Dance, dance, gentle young girl to my song.

Durante: The composer whose sacred music overshadows the rest of his output.

Francesco Durante

Durante was born in Regno delle Due Sicilie (the Kingdom of Two Sicilies) at a time when it was the richest and most important of the Italian states before the unification of Italy. From a large family, his first musical influence was his father, a dedicated singer in the parish church. He entered the Conservatorio dei poveri di Gesu Cristo (The Concservatory of the poor of Jesus Christ) in Naples and later became a pupil of Alessandro Scarlatti. He later became a famous teacher of pupils such as Giovanni Paisiello, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi and Niccolo Piccinni, to name only a few. By all accounts, Durante was dedicated to his students’ welfare and education. Durante was, in turn, always spoken very highly of by his pupils. Unusually among Neapolitan composers, Durante had little interest in writing operas, although he did compose sacred dramas and secular as well as sacred cantatas. He made a name for himself chiefly in the devotional and liturgical genres of his day. Despite the dominance in his list of compositions of religious works, he also wrote a large number of successful harpsichord sonatas and toccatas, and eight Concerti per quartetto.

The uncertain history of Danza, danza fanciulla

Schirmer Edtion

Two popular arias attributed to Durante are published in anthologies of Italian songs – “Arie Antiche” collected by 19th century editors. Vergin, tutto amor and Danza, danza fanciulla are perhaps the only works for which Durante is still recognized. This is ironic since in his catalogue they would not hold a very esteemed place incomparison to the larger works and educational volumes he produced. In all probability they were only “solfeggios” or “singing exercises” to which elaborate accompaniment and text were added in the nineteenth century. He wrote many didactic works and even in non-didactic compositions there are signs in the actual printed scores that reveal the master-teacher at work. For example, in some of the masses elements of the plainchant or canon were marked as such for the edification of the student/performer. (Rachael Unite, All Music Guide )

Performance practice in Durante’s “Arie Antiche”

Ricordi Edition sold by Hal Leonard publ.

Given that the originals are now lost, performers have to rely on performing versions created and commissioned by 19th century publishers. Some of the editorial suggestions are appropriate, and without these wonderful “recreations” these melodies might have been lost for ever. However, one can not ignore the fact that when you hear these works performed, you are listening to a twenty-first century ”imagining” of what the a 19th century editor (and therefore “minor” composer/arranger”) imagined what an 18th century composition might have sounded like. There is no saying that even the choice of text would carry the blessing of Signore Durante. There is no guarantee that the tempo indication given in the 19th century would be appropriate to a sound-world already a century old. In fact, apart form the melody, most of what we find in the published editions of this song, were added by other hands.

The metronome marking and the tempo indication of “Allegro con Spirito” are not Durante’s at all. The metronome had not even been invented yet, for a start. Singers have to interpret the song with the text as a starting point. Let’s forget for a moment that the text was not chosen – or set – by the composer, and accept its validity as a document. Given the lightness of the text – the references to delicate and playful breezes and rustling sounds of nature – the metronome marking given by the editors seems too fast and virtuosic. At 138 to a beat a whirling dervish is conjured rather than a simple “twirling lightly and softly to the sound”. Yet singers revel in the virtuosic display that the fast tempo affords. Thrilling as this might be, it makes the piece little more than a coat-hanger on which to hang an elaborate costume.

A delicate Baroque spinet

The piano used for accompaniment had not been invented yet when Durante wrote the melody. Even the dynamic indications are not “authentic” as it was a convention of the Baroque not to mark changes of volume – partly because instruments such as the spinet could only play at one dynamic level. Others, such as a harpsichord or organ, could not gradually change volume, but could only jump from one level to the next (“terrace dynamics”), given some technological device such as adding a few more strings or pipes.

What are performers in 2010 to do?

- Play it on the harpsichord or spinet?

"Self portrait at the spinet" - Lavinia Fontana 1577

This would recreate the keyboard sounds that Durante had available in his time. (But we do not have a harpsichord in our concert.) We are not even sure that it was actually written for a harpsichord. A spinet is unpractical in modern concerts as it is simply not loud enough to be heard properly more than a few feet away, let alone in a concert hall.

- Play it on a piano and imitate the harpsichord?

This is acceptable practice for keyboard works such as those by Bach and Scarlatti. Crisp articulation and not using the sustaining pedal, are used as techniques that outline the architecture of these works.

Here is a YouTube Clip of the piano accompaniment as it is published, recorded without a singer. This “Music Minus One” version illustrates the issues with the piano accompaniment as it stands. Pedals, legato double octaves and long sustained chords are used in abundance. None of these are technical devices employed in the Baroque – especially not on keyboard instruments.

Click here to listen to Danza, danza fanciulla (Piano Accompaniment Only)

In the case of Durante’s song and its “Arie Antiche” colleagues,  the accompaniments were composed in the 19th century with the piano and its technical abilities in mind – such as volume change and sustaining pedals – declaring any claims at authenticity totally bogus. One would have to recompose the accompaniment to make that possible, at the very least cutting out some of the very low notes or doubling which would have been impractical in the Baroque era.

Appropriate singing style in Durante’s Danza, Danza Fanciulla

As for the singer, do they attempt vibrato-less baroque-style singing of limited volume and dramatic expression? Many modern recordings use Baroque-style re-orchestrations. These charming pastiche versions have their own validity, but they are stylistic anachronisms. Dmitri Hvorostovsky - winner of the 1989 Cardiff Singer of the World competition - is one of the leading operatic baritones of his generation. His Aria Antiche album was one of his biggest hits. The accompaniments on this CD are all modern orchestrations, and are certainly effective. But they are nonetheless a 20th century “imagining” of 19th century Baroque style. As for “barihunk” Dmitri: his vocal swagger – impressive as it may be – is probably very far removed from what singers in the Baroque era would have sounded like. The full-throated chest voice is an invention of the romantic era just as surely as the media invention of the barihunk is a 21st century phenomenon. In all likelyhood Danza, danza fanciulla would have been sung by a decidedly unvirile castrato. Given the church’s prohibition on women singing in church, Durante would no doubt have had a stable of castrated boys at his diposal to sing his sacred works. This song was very probably composed for one of these children unfortunately cursed with musical talent.

Click here to listen to Dmitri Hvorostovsky singing Durante’s Danza, danza fanciulla.

Click here to listen to Christiaan d’Hooghe a countenor - the closest thing we have today to a Castrato sound – singing Durante’s other famous Aria Antiche Vergin Tutto amor.

Restoration versus recreation

Michelangelo's "Daniel" Before & After restoration (Sistine Chapel)

Questions facing performers of this type of work is similar to those facing art historians when dealing with the prospect of restoring works from the past. The recent restoration of the Sistine Chapel is very controversial. The results of the cleaning were quite extreme. The colours that emerged after the restoration were quite startlingly different from what we had become accustomed to. Colours were surprisingly bright. Some might even say garish and gaudy. Our picture of the enchanting rotund angels floating in clouds of light pink, has changed dramatically and many books on the art of Michelangelo have had to be revised, some even rewritten.

As always, the experts are divided on the results.

A journey into history

The interesting part is that this modern restoration attempt was not the first. Already in 1625, a restoration was carried out by Simone Lagi, the Vatican’s “resident gilder”, who wiped the ceiling with linen cloths and cleaned it by rubbing it with bread. He occasionally resorted to wetting the bread to remove the more stubborn accretions. His report states that the frescoes “were returned to their previous beauty without receiving any harm”. Lagi also applied layers of glue-varnish to revive the colours. Between 1710 and 1713 a further restoration was carried out by the painter Annibale Mazzuoli and his son. They used sponges dipped in Greek wine (with a very high acidity similar to vinegar) which was necessitated by the accretion of grime caused by soot and dirt trapped in the oily deposits of the previous restoration. Mazzuoli then worked over the ceiling, according to an “eye-witness report” (by now almost 300 years old) to deliberately strengthen the contrasts by over-painting details. They also repainted some areas the colours of which were lost because of the efflorescence of salts caused by the salpetre leaks from the roof above the ceiling. So, to be fair, we have absolutely no way of telling if the recent renovations restores the Sistine Chapel to its original state as Michelangelo conceived it, or if it has been restored to the sate in which it was left are being cleaned with wet bread, or after parts had been repainted by Annibale Mazzuoli.

Bril's Landscape at San Silvestro before it was restored

Another equally startling restoration of Baroque fresco-painting is the restored paintings of Flemish Master Paul Bril in the San Silvestro Chapel at Rome’s Sancta Sanctorium. Bril’s work has only seriously entered the conscious realm of art-historian endeavour since this project revealed the extent of his achievement. Funded by the John Paul Getty Foundation, over 1.700 square meters of wall space was restored by forty art restorers and experts. Project leader Maurizio De Luca, who also oversaw the recent restoration of the Pauline Chapel by Michelangelo inside the Vatican, sates confidently: “Like any good restoration, it is invisible.”

Some might beg to differ.

Technically it was a stunningly complex restoration process: deep fissures risked bringing down whole patches of painted ceiling plaster, and inside the chapel with its high, vaulted ceiling the painted walls and ceiling were literally obliterated by four centuries of accumulated candle grease and grime. Only the faintest traces of the paintings remained, and all colors and themes were literally lost to time, and hence forgotten. The restorers painstakingly removed one layer of dirt, then waited to see the result before tackling the next.

Brils' landscape in the San Silvestro: After restoration

The results are rather startling. The colours are extremely bright and direct. If this is what Baroque frescoes really looked like, who is to say we don’t also have the wrong idea of how Baroque music is supposed to have sounded?

My task as coach and accompanist for this “Aria Antiche” is therefore not so simple. There are no hard-and-fast rules. Recreating a supposed baroque-style is not possible: the instrument I play is a 9 foot concert grand piano made of steel and wood, not a delicate little spinet. To attempt to play the piece in a technically “clean” manner, sheared of rubato and other agogic responses accumulated in subsequent centuries – to the text as well as the harmonies – would seem perverse: like washing the original in vinegar. By the same token, I feel that simply following the romantic indications – not to mention the thick octaves and large chords in the accompaniment – is the equivalent of centuries’ worth of accumulated oil, soot and grime. I am not sure I am in the market for recomposing the accompaniment, to attemtp a compromise. Not yet, anyway.

In preparing a performance I shall attempt neither to wash the original with wet bread nor vinegar. The key – of course – is the singer. This work will be sung by Violina Angeulov, a superb mezzo-soprano trained at the UCT Opera School by Sarita Stern. As we work on the programme in the next couple of weeks, I am sure we shall do our own restoration and recreation of “Danza, danza fanciulla”. We have no idea what we might yet discover. Perhaps we will dance to Durante’s tune. Or perhaps we won’t. We might just dance our own dance, to the sounds carried on the wind down through the centuries. And how we dance, depends entirely on what we choose to hear. And who knows which voices will be whispering in our ears?

Violina Anguelov (mezzo-soprano) CV

Violina was born in Bulgaria. She obtained her Performer’s Diploma in Opera with distinction as well as Honours Degree in Singing (First Class) from the University of Cape Town under voice teacher Sarita Stern. She has been awarded the Adcock Ingram Music Prize, the Leonard Hall Memorial Prize and Erik Chisholm Prize.

She made her European operatic début as Dorabella in Cosi fan Tutte in Hanover, Germany, in 2000. Her South African operatic début was as Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro with Cape Town Opera in 1999. Since then she has sung, just to mention a few,  roles such as Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Rosina in The Barber of Seville, Fenena in Nabucco, Marguerite in Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust, Ruggiero in Alcina, Nerone in L’Incoronazione di Poppea, Hänsel in Hänsel and Gretel, Idamante in Idomeneo, Orlofski in Die Fledermaus, Mrs. Roland in the One Act One Woman opera Dark sonnet by Erik Chisholm in celebration of 100 years of the composers birth, Elisetta in Il Matrimonio Segreto at the Pretoria State Theatre. She has been invited twice to perform for Opera Africa in the roles of, Romeo in I Capuleti e I Montecchi by Bellini performed in Pretoria State Theatre and Amneris in Aida by Verdi performed both in the Pretoria State Theatre and Johanneburg Civic Theatre. She also sang the as Third Lady in Mozart’s Magic Flute a production directed by William Kentridge. This production was performed in Cape Town Opera House and Civic Theatre Johannesburg. Her latest appearances include the roles of Suzuki in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and Mrs Patrick De Rocher in Jake Heggie’s opera Dead Man Walking both productions of Cape Town Opera.

She has a vast repertoire of sacred works: Coronation Mass by Mozart, Stabat Mater by Pergolesi, Gloria by Vivaldi, St. Theresa Mass by Haydn, Mozart’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, The Dream of Gerontius by Elgar, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and 9th Symphony, Bach’s Easter Oratorio as well as St. Johan’s and St. Matthews Passions, L’Enfance du Christ by Berlioz, Elijah by Mendelssohn and Verdi Requiem. She has worked with conductors such as: Doctor Barry Smith, Arnold Bosman, Chris Dowdeswell, Doctor Donald Hunt, Richard Cock and Kamal Khan.

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Benjamin Britten Folksong (re)settings: when artsong meets folksong

Britten re-invented British folksongs for his recitals with the tenor Peter Pears. Their magic is as undiluted in his “re-imaginings” as they are in their purer form as folk-songs, and some of them attain the status of brand new Art Songs.

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Ashgrove in winter

The arranged folksong is a bit like a precious stone, taken by a well-known composer and reset in a new setting, both creating an opportunity to view the well-known gem afresh, but also to create a new piece all-together. Benjamin Britten’s folksongs vary from simple re-arrangements to virtually brand new art-songs. I will be performing a selection of these in a programme called Sweeter than Roses, and other upcoming concerts.

Benjamin Britten

Benjamin Britten

The first set was written during the self-imposed exile of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears – as conscientious objectors to the British War effort as well as the legal intolerance of homosexual partnerships – to the USA from 1932 to 1942. Published in 1943 these works therefore also reflect a certain nostalgia for the homeland of a composer in exile. Benjamin Britten (Lord Britten of Aldeburgh 1913-1976) needed recital and encore material for his recitals with England’s foremost tenor of the time, his life-partner Sir Peter Pears (1910-1986). By 1947, three sets of folksongs from the British Isles and mainland Europe were published, forming a treasure trove of recital material. Written with piano accompaniment, a few were orchestrated in the early 1950’s.

Folksong setting in Britain prior to Britten

Britten’s English folksong publication is predated by a massive project during the 1780’s by George Thomson Edinburgh (1757-1851), of publishing arrangements of folksongs by the greatest European composers. Thomson recruited no less than Joseph Haydn and Ludwig von Beethoven, Hummel and Carl Maria von Weber. The British public seemed to enjoy the prestige of these names, and there was an absolute boom in sales and interest in dressing up folkmusic in “civilised garb”.

Cecil Sharp (1859-1924) was another important figure in the history of English Folksong, collecting over 4000 folksongs and notating each by hand. He published 1, 118 folk melodies and wrote over 500 accompaniments. By all accounts he was not much of a composer, and his accompaniments and folksong settings are rather dull, but they are extremely valuable in the preservation of the vocal lines. According the Graham Johnson, veteran accompanist and close friend of Peter Pears in his last years, Cecil Sharp prided himself on the “unobtrusive” nature of his accompaniments, claiming that they added to the authenticity of his legacy.

Grainger's "Free Music Machine"

Grainger's "Free Music Machine"

Australian pianist and composer Percy Grainger (1882-1961) came to Britain in 1901, using a recording machine. Britten got to know these recordings, conducting and recording “Salute to Percy Grainger” in the 1970’s for the Decca record Label. Grainger’s folksong transcriptions differ radically from his folksong arrangements, in that they are meticulously notated, often with highly complex metres and rhythmic patterns, as the young man strove to write down the performance he heard as accurately as possible.

Britten’s Folksongs

Britten was content to use the material collected by others. His songs are not meant for the ethnomusicologist or anthropologist. They are designed for a collector and analyst of a very different nature: the recitalist. Many writers have bemoaned the “artyness” of Britten’s folksong settings. They were specifically intended as encores and to end the Britten-Pears recitals.

Some musical characteristics of Britten’s folksong settings.

Britten was a great Schubert interpreter. The Britten/Pears Schöne Müllerin is a joy to hear. I am in awe of Britten’s control and fine sense of nuance in this performance in particular, but the entire Britten/Pears Schubert legacy is a treasure. As a performer, I sense something Schubertian in the folksong settings. As with some of Schubert’s accompaniments the piano parts are often based on a single motif or pianistic “idea” without too much development. The strophic nature of the songs lend themselves to a comparison with Die Schöne Müllerin . The beauty of the Britten settings is the simplicity but highly effective nature of the accompaniments, to reveal, introduce and weave the mood of the song. Britten’s experience as an opera composer comes into play in the more narrative songs, where dramatic scenes are spun with utmost efficiency.

I won’t be discussing all the folksongs in the settings here, but some that I am preparing for current concerts.

Down By The Salley Gardens (W. B Yeats) 1889

Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish, with her did not agree.

In a field by the river my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.

Salley Gardens where the lovers did meet

Salley Gardens where the lovers did meet

The Salley Gardens

Ironically, the first folksong isn’t really a folksong. Unhelpfully, Britten subtitles the song as “Irish Tune”.  The text is by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), Irish poet and dramatist and one of the greatest poets in the English language of the twentieth century. He was a leader of the “Irish Renaissance” and spiritualist, winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923. It was published in 1889 in “The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems”.

Yeats indicated in a note that it was “an attempt to reconstruct an old song from three lines imperfectly remembered by an old peasant woman in the village of Ballisodare, Sligo, who often sings them to herself.” Yeats’s original title, “An Old Song Re-Sung”, reflected this; it first appeared under its present title when it was reprinted in Poems in 1895

The melody is by Northern Irish Composer Herbert Hughes, whose Down by the Sally Gardens was published in 1909 in “Irish Country Songs Vol. 1”, who originally used the text by Yeats. True, his accompaniment is clumsy and fussy, but he created the essence of the song. Britten’s “resetting” gives us the opportunity to appreciate the gem in all it’s glory.

All through The Sally Gardens the accompaniment suggests the slow falling of tears and – you will notice this at once when you hear the song – the introduction, at the start, of a note contradicting the key is a masterly touch. The gentle throb of the quaver pattern is broken by a sad little figure, but follows the natural rhythm of Yeats’ poem perfectly. A song both static and somehow “suspended” in time, a moment of reflection captured in space and time, this is a truly remarkable creation. A very effective “flattening” of the harmony on the final “young and foolish” is an expressive masterstroke of a composer acutely attuned to the mood and emotion of the text. The tiny postlude sums up the sadness of an older protagonist who remembers his/her own youth and the loss of love.

The Latin name for the Weeping Willow is the Salix, and willows are sometimes referred to in poetry as “weeping Salleys”. The Irish name for a willow is “Saileach”. “Salley Gardens” then could refer to a secluded willow grove where lover’s could tryst in secret and seclusion.

The Ashgrove – the version of the text set by Britten

Down yonder green valley where streamlets meander
When twilight is fading I pensively rove.
Or at the bright noontide in solitude wander
Amid the dark shades of the lonely ash grove.

Twas there while the blackbird was cheerfully singing
I first met that dear one, the joy of my heart.
Around us for gladness the bluebells were ringing
Ah! then little thought I how soon we should part.

Still glows the bright sunshine o’er valley and mountain,
Still warbles the blackbird its note from the tree;
Still trembles the moonbeam on streamlet and fountain,
But what are the beauties of Nature to me?

With sorrow, deep sorrow, my heart] is laden,
All day I go mourning in search of my love!
Ye echoes! oh tell me, where is the sweet maiden [loved one]?
“She [He] sleeps ‘neath the green turf down by the Ash Grove.”

Ashgrove in Winter

Ashgrove in Winter

The Ashgrove

Subtitled “Welsh Tune”, the first published version of the tune was in 1802  in the book “The Bardic Museum” by harpist Edward Jones.. Telling of a sailor’s love of “Gwen of Lynn”, a similar tune appears in “The Beggar’s Opera” by John Gay (1728) in the song “Cease your Funning.”

Britten here moves away from simple “Folksong setting” or Schubertian “artistry”, experimenting with harmonies and canons and passages in varied imitation. The bluebells “chime” almost literally in the piano part. A little Messianic bluebird triplet  ruffles the feathers of traditional folksong collectors and various harmonic shifts, reflect an unstable mind. The simple tune belies the tragedy of the text, and Britten’s miniature mad-scene is filled with tremendous empathy for the suffering of the mourning lover.

O Waly, Waly – The text as set by Britten

The water is wide, I cannot cross o’er,
But Neither have I the wings to fly.
Give me a boat, that can carry two,
And both shall row, my love and I.

I leaned my back up against an oak
I thought it was a trusty tree
but first it bent and then it broke
And so my love did unto me.

A ship there is and she sails the sea,
She’s loaded deep as deep can be,
But not so deep as the love I’m in
I know not if I sink or swim.

O love is handsome and love is fine
And love’s a jewel when it is new
but love grows old and waxes cold
And fades away like morning dew.

rose stem O Waly, Waly

The inherent challenges of love are made apparent in the narrator’s imagery: “Love is handsome, love is kind” during the novel honeymoon phase of any relationship. However, as time progresses, “love grows old, and waxes cold”. Even true love, the narrator admits, can “fade away like morning dew”

Britten here uses the tune as transcribed by Cecil Sharp on his trip to America during World War 1. It is thought to be a Scottish or English Folksong. Britten creates a sparse accompaniment allowing the voice to float free. A gentle barcarolle rhythm in the accompaniment sets the watery scene that rocks with a gentle ebb and flow. The harmonies in the accompany change, but very slowly, gently. The subtle changes makes this song a hypnotic masterpiece. Powerful but understated discords such as the one on the word “cold” create new meanings in the text. In one chord, the disintegration of a relationship is expressed, summed up, wrapped up in a flattened seventh at once comforting as symbolic of the death of love.

Down By The Salley Gardens: Some Recorded Materials

Tenor John McCormack performing an arrangement not by Britten. I enjoy his “folk” accent and the glimpse into the past provided by the scratchiness of the old record.

Countertenor Andreas Scholl performing (in the studio in 2001) an arrangement for voice and string orchestra. While the strings add the rustling of the trees of the “Salley Gardens” I do miss the simplicity of Britten.

Nicolai Gedda and Gerald Moore, another great Schubertian pianist, give a rather “recitalish” performance. However, Gedda, whose range of recording and performance simply continues to amaze me for its sheer breadth and depth, displays admirable sensitiveity to the text.

Irish folk duo Lark and Spur sing a charming popular celtic version.

The Ashgrove: Some Recorded Materials

Nana Mouskouri with two guitarists accompanying.

These original Welsh words tell a violent, bitter tale. A young heiress falls in love, to the dismay and rage of her powerful father and lord of the region. He means to kill her lover, but kills her by chance, and she prefers death to being an unloved prisoner at Ash Grove Palace. It is sung here in Welsh by Llwyn Onn as Dafydd o Fargoed. The accompaniment is based on Benjamin Britten’s arrangement from 1943 set then to gentle English words of mourning for a dead lover.

O Waly, Waly: Some Recorded Materials

Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears give the autoratitive version. The pathos and pianissimo of the final verse is breathtaking.

A modern tenor version by American tenor Gregory Kunde. The pianist is not credited in this live 1998 perfromance.

Sir Thomas Allen sings an unaccompanied version at the Northumbrian seashore. The seagulls in the background form a touching accompaniment to a tune of great power.

At the other end of the spectrum is Bob Dylan in a live 1975 version.

The beautiful and always sensitive Eva Cassidy sings a touching version I would not want to be without.

The Foggy, Foggy Dew: Some Recorded Materials

Tenor Steve Davislim and pianist Simone Young perform the Britten arrangement of folksong ‘Foggy, Foggy Dew’ and speak about thier approach to presenting this piece. From ‘Benjamin Britten Folksong Arrangements’, MR301120 Melba Recordings SACD.

Sinead O’Connor and the Chieftains sing the Irish republican song “The Foggy Dew”.

I will be performing these and other Britten folksong settings in concerts over the next few months. One of these features singers Louise Howlett, Shirley Sutherland and John Hardie, accompanied by Albert Combrink. Also on the programme is “Sweeter than roses” and other Britten realisations of Purcell songs, and extracts from that delightful Rose seller Eliza Doolitle from “My Fair Lady”, and some operatic roses such the one one Carmen throws at at Jose, intoxicated with love.

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Press release: “Sweeter than Roses” – Lindbergh Arts, 28 October 2009. 8pm

“Sweeter than Roses” – English and Italian songs of the joys of love by Purcell, Britten, Mozart, Sondheim incl. “My Fair Lady” This delightful programme of mostly English songs explores the joys and dreams of young lovers through the songs of Purcell (“If music be the food of love”), Britten’s famous Folksong settings (“The Foggy, […]

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“Sweeter than Roses”

– English and Italian songs of the joys of love by
Purcell, Britten, Mozart, Sondheim incl. “My Fair Lady”
This delightful programme of mostly English songs explores the joys and dreams of young lovers through the songs of Purcell (“If music be the food of love”), Britten’s famous Folksong settings (“The Foggy, foggy dew”) and operatic extracts by Mozart, that master of comic characterisation. The three singers are all noted for their variety and can perform in different styles. Shirley Sutherland will lead the second half of the programme with extracts from “My Fair Lady”, the show in which she had a major triumph at the Artscape Theatre in 2008. Louise Howlett, a veteran stage performer, will include extracts from her soon-to-be released second CD from the musicals “Cats” and “A Little Night Music”. Baritone John Hardie – winner of various awards such as the Leonard Hall Memorial Prize – is the perfect foil for the two ladies. He will be the Figaro to their Suzanna and Cherubino and the Don Giovanni to their Zerlinas. The programme will reflect the more playful aspect of young love, from the charm and beauty of setting of Shakespeare to more contemporary and popular music. The fact that most of the songs are in English makes this a programme with instant appeal for audiences of all ages. The keyword is variety, and versatility is what this set of performers are known for.

Lindbergh Arts Foundations – 18 Beach Road, Muizenberg

R105 Including Snacks

Booking 021 788 2795
Louise Howlett (Soprano)
Louise Howlett, originally from England, studied at the Royal College of Music in London, with Margaret Cable where she featured in a number of competitions and masterclasses.  As a member of the National Youth Music Theatre, Louise toured to the Bergen Festival and Edinburgh Main and Fringe Festivals, aswell as performing in the award winning production of The Ragged Child at the Sadlers Wells Theatre, London. She performed in television productions of both The Ragged Child and the opera of The Tailor of Gloucester.
Louise came to South Africa in 1993 to work as Organiser for the National Chamber Orchestra in the North West Province, and soon decided to make South Africa her home.  She sang on many occasions with the NCO including a number of corporate functions in Sun City and Johannesburg. She also performed in a number of Oratoria including Nelson Mass, The Messiah and Vivaldi’s Gloria, and was involved in choral training workshops and master classes. In March 1999 she moved to Cape Town where she is now based.  Her Cape Town debut took place with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra at their Kirstenbosch Millennium Concert; but her love of jazz and the musicals led her to create her own unique combination of classical, broadway and jazz “Across the Styles” projects out of which her “Serenade” series was born.  These productions can vary from classical versions, to jazz standard evenings to the full range of genres blended into one programme. She has performed with great success at various venues and festivals including the Kirstenbosch Winter Chamber Music Series, the Greyton Rose Festival, and most recently at the Baxter Theatre.

Louise is a regular presenter on Fine Music Radio.  Her programme “For the Love of Opera” features all the latest news and reviews of opera around the world today.
John  Hardie (Baritone)
John studied singing at UCT and Stellenbosch University and his teachers include Sarita Stern, Nellie du Toit and Marita Napier. He sang with Capab Opera for 3 years taking part in productions of “Albert Herring” and “Cosi fan Tutte”. He won the College of Music Opera prize in 1988 and 1989, the Friends of the Nico Malan Opera Prize in 1990, the Leonard Hall memorial Prize in 1991. He has performed professionally with accompanists such s ALbie van Schalkwyk, Tommy Rajna and Neil Solomon.

SHIRLEY SUTHERLAND  – Coloratura Soprano

Shirley Sutherland graduated from UCT with an Honours degree in Music  under Sarita Stern and Angelo Gobbato.  She has also completed a  National Higher Diploma in Opera (Cum Laude) at the Pretoria Technikon  Opera School under the tutelage of Eric Muller.

Her ability to sing such a varied repertoire of music being Opera,  Operetta, Broadway, Classical contemporary, light classical has found  her performing to diverse audiences locally and abroad.

Her many operatic roles include that of Tytania in Britten’s A  Midsummer Night’s Dream, Adele in Die Fledermaus, Hanna in Lehar’s  The Merry Widow, Pamina in Mozart’s Magic Flute, Micaela and  Frasquita in Bizet’s Carmen, Lucy in Menotti’s The Telephone Madame Mademoiselle Warblewell in Mozart’s The Impresario and as  well as Dvorak’s Rusalka which she performed in Sweden.  Her many  musical roles include that of Eliza from My Fair Lady, Magnolia from  Showboat which was performed in Germany, Julie in The Carousel,  Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, Meg in Brigadoon and Roxie in  Chicago for which she received the Cape Times Award for the best  leading lady in a musical. She has sung Gabriel in Haydn’s Oratorio  The Creation and performed in Mozart’s Coronation Mass with the  Johannesburg Symphony Orchestra.

She has been part of the Pretoria based Black Tie-Ensemble with Mimi  Coertse and part of Cape Town’s Opera Studio.

Shirley is in great demand as a soloist and also teaches part-time at  schools in the Cape area.
Albert Combrink (Piano)
Albert, currently a freelance pianist, completed his MMUS in Piano Performance from Natal University under Isabella Stengel, as well as three UNISA Licentiates: Piano Performance, Piano Accompaniment and Teaching (Cum Laude). He made his concerto debut with the NPO at 18. Since then he has performed regularly at major centres throughout the country, as soloist and accompanist, in both classical and popular music fields. He was finalist in the ATKV Music Competition and winner of the Young Natal Chamber Competition and UND Performer’s and Composer’s competitions after which he was commissioned to write to the first Afrikaans Catholic Mass. He has extensive recording experience, including Hindemith’s Piano Concerto “Four Temperaments” with the NPO and David Tidboald, through radio and television broadcasts (including BBC World) to the recent CPO recordings of works by Hofmeyr and Schnittke. He was repetiteur for the UCT Opera School as well as Cape Town Opera, performing also as orchestral pianist and harpsichordist in operatic productions. His operatic experience with CPO included “Showboat” and “Porgy and Bess” which toured Sweden and Germany. He has acted and recorded for the eTv show “Backstage” and “Stokvel” and been involved in various film projects. As member of the Cape Town Tango Ensemble he has performed at all the major festivals in the country, with performers such as Mark Hoeben and Ina Wichterich. His Tango CD featured in the film “Tango Club”. He has worked with directors such as Janice Honeyman, Jaco Bouwer and Marthinus Basson. He is vocal coach for Portabello, whose production of Mozart’s “Magic Flute” won a London Critics’ “Olivier Award” in 2008, and has toured Ireland, Japan and Singapore. He has also been Music Director and Assistant MD for various productions including the New Space Theatre’s production of Sondheim’s “Assassins” which won two Fleur du Cap Awards. He is co-author of 3 Arts & Culture Textbooks which have sold over 150 000 copies.

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Ständchen by Richard Strauss: Passion and Seduction in the Garden of Eden

This analysis describes how wonderfully Strauss paints the picture of passion, secrecy and stolen delight, in this wonderfully ecstatic Nocturne.

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321700641_42dda5a0b9
lovers-in-a-forest-circa-1800
Lovers in the garden Paul Gustave Dore (1832-1883),
The house in the garden
Linden trees
LINDEN TREE

321700641_42dda5a0b9The rustling and shimmering of the piano part which opens Strauss’ song Ständchen – which I should perhaps be practising for tomorrow’s concert, rather than writing about it – is one of those startling inventions by this composer that simply hooks the listener from the first note. The song tells the charming story of a secret lover’s tryst in the dark of night, the beloved ardently seduced into sneaking into the forest for a night of passion. Strauss responds to the vividly descriptive words with a song filled with passion and seduction.

Strauss composed his Sechs Lieder Op.17 to poems by Adolf Friedrich von Schack between 1885 and 1887. At that time Strauss was the court music director in Meiningen and moved to Munich to become the Court Opera’s third conductor. Strauss’ early experience in the opera house not only stood him in good stead as an opera composer, but his songs often have an operatic sweep about them, and a clear sense of climax and dramatic pacing.

Strauss’ music brings to life the expectation and excitement of the clandestine tryst  of Schack’s poem.

Ständchen by Adolf Friedrich, Graf von Schack (1855-1894)

Mach auf, mach auf, doch leise mein Kind,
Um keinen vom Schlummer zu wecken.
Kaum murmelt der Bach, kaum zittert im Wind
Ein Blatt an den Büschen und Hecken.
Drum leise, mein Mädchen, daß [nichts sich]1 regt,
Nur leise die Hand auf die Klinke gelegt.

Mit Tritten, wie Tritte der Elfen so sacht,
[Die über die Blumen]2 hüpfen,
Flieg leicht hinaus in die Mondscheinnacht,
[Zu]3 mir in den Garten zu schlüpfen.
Rings schlummern die Blüten am rieselnden Bach
Und duften im Schlaf, nur die Liebe ist wach.

Sitz nieder, hier dämmert’s geheimnisvoll
Unter den Lindenbäumen,
Die Nachtigall uns zu Häupten soll
Von unseren Küssen träumen,
Und die Rose, wenn sie am Morgen erwacht,
Hoch glühn von den Wonnenschauern der Nacht..

Ständchen in free translation by Albert Combrink

“Love Song”

Open up, open up, but softly my child,
So as not to wake anyone from their sleep,
The stream is barely murmuring, the wind hardly causes quivers
In a leaf on bush or hedge.
So, softly, my young girl, so that nothing stirs,
Just lay your hand softly on the door-latch.

With steps as soft as the footsteps of elves,
that hop over the flowers,
Fly lightly out into the moonlit night,
Sneak to me in the garden.
Around us sleeps the blossoms along the trickling stream,
Fragrant in sleep, only love is awake.

Sit down, here it darkens mysteriously
Beneath the linden trees,
The nightingale over our heads
Shall dream of our kisses,
And the rose, when it wakes in the morning,
Shall glow from the joyous showers of the night.

"Lovers in the garden" Paul Gustave Dore (1832-1883)

"Lovers in the garden" Paul Gustave Dore (1832-1883)

Early in his career Strauss was obviously taken with the poems of Von Schack – the son of a wealthy landowner – setting 16 of his poems in the songs which comprise his Opus 15, 17 and 19 sets, completed by the age of 24. As with most of Strauss’ choice of poets, Schack might not be regarded as a towering figure in the poetic landscape, so to speak. Yet his poems provide much suggestive imagery to stimulate the imagination – especially one as creative as Strauss. Schack’s moonlit forest shakes, trembles, quakes and quivers and in the morning the roses will be glowing form the night’s “Wonnenschauern” – a virtually untranslatable portmanteau suggesting the “joyous showers” of the night’s activities (perhaps one would be wise not to interpret it only literally). The grammar of the poem makes it hard to distinguish whether the poet is taking the beloved into the night, or merely singing a song of seduction and describing the delights that await them – as the title suggests.  The music however, tells a fuller story.

Tonality is vitally important in the music of Strauss and he adhered loosely to a set of tonal symbols. C major is often regarded as his “Key of Creation”, of elemental power, the source of the Big Bang: note for example the opening of Also Sprach Zarathustra or the song Zueignung (Op. 10 No.1) – both powerful existential statements. A flat major is used for pious religious expressions such as those of John the Baptist in the opera Salome. Ständchen is in F Sharp major, a key it only shares with a single other song from his 205: Traum durch die Dämmerung. This is also the key of love at first sight in the “Presentation of the Rose” duet from Der Rosenkavalier. Often associated with love, dreaminess and intoxication, this key suggests two lovers “high” on love, the romance of the moment and the beauty of the surroundings.

The house near the forest - anon.

The house near the forest - anon.

Musically the first two verses are repeated verbatim. Verse one lures the beloved out the door. Verse two lures the beloved into the darkness of the Linden trees. Octave leaps, like an ardent but secret call and long passages in the same key suggest so beautifully the furtive seduction. The piano quakes and quivers in excitement and but also surrounds the voice in the night-sounds of the forest: the trembling, rustling and positively quaking leaves and the murmuring trickle of the ever-flowing but never dangerous stream. The excited frisson in the hearts of the lovers is expressed in the darting of the piano part. The figuration is more pianistic than it appears at first sight: The 4th finger falls naturally on the black notes and the short 5th finger feels comfortably in place on the adjacent white finger, making the rippling pianissimo a joy to play. Yet some sharp-shooters’ aim is required when the modulations move in between the black notes.

Verse three gets down to the serious business of love-making. As the beloved is invited to “sink down” on the soft grass, the piano part sinks gently down to the key of D Major, the key of nature: Daphne in the garden; the garden of the “Vier Letzte Lieder. The flattened VI key is such a quintessentially Romantic musical symbol for the mysterious and the magical. Another magical use of the flattened sixth key occurs in Schubert’s rapturous Nacht und Träume (Night and Dreams, D. 827) of 1822, where the joy of the dreamers is expressed with breathtaking tenderness.

The piano part of the third verse reveals some fussiness on the part of the composer. The little figurations, while remaining true to the original idea, change shape and inversions a few too many times, making it unnecessarily awkward for the pianist. I wonder if some have not cheated the odd beat or two. It is mainly pianissimo and the pedal hides a multitude of sins. As the piano part modulates downwards to B Major, the voice starts its ecstatic ascent to the climax, Strauss finding it necessary to repeat the words “Hoch glühn” (glowing on high) to sustain the excitement and extend the exquisite consummation.

Linden Tress abound in German Lieder

Linden Tress abound in German Lieder

At this point there is a discrepancy between the piano-accompanied version of the song, and the orchestral arrangement of the song. In the orchestral version the high A sharp of the climax is held double the length. It is a glorious effect. I have heard various sopranos take the “long cut” in the piano version, with the pianist either left high and dry at the barline, or, in the case of some conductor-pianists such as Wolfgang Swallisch and Sir Georg Solti, they reversed the process of orchestration and rewrote the piano part, adding extra bars as per the orchestral version. The orchestral version also ends more abruptly, leaving out the piano’s brief but charming postlude.

Strauss only wrote 15 of his 205 songs expressly for Voice and Orchestra. He himself orchestrated 25 of the piano accompaniments and sanctioned some by others. These orchestrations were done at various times in his career, often to provide concert material for his wife Pauline de Ahna and some of the various sopranos with whom he travelled after Pauline’s career started winding down, such as the creator of the title role in Arabella, Viorica Ursuleac whom Strauss called “die treueste aller Treuen” (“the most faithful of all the faithful”).

Some recordings:

Walter Gieseking made a beautiful transcription of the song for solo piano. His own performance is unhurried and tender, a beautiful version giving a distilled ‘gestalt’, when the visceral excitement generated by a voice, is absent. FREE SHEET MUSIC of Gieseking’s transcription of Ständchen is available.

An opera singer more famous for his Puccini than his Strauss, Jussi Björling’s Bel Canto brings a wonderful line to this song, in an orchestral version.

Lotte Lehman (recorded here in 1941) remains an authority in this repertoire, having performed many times with Strauss himself.

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, the Über-Guru of Lieder, performs here with his main collaborator in the autumn-years of his career – Hartmut Höll, piano. This is about as deffinitive as modern interpretations get.

Fritz Wunderlich, who performed so many of Strauss’ taxing tenor roles before his untimely death, here gives one of the performances of a lifetime, in an orchestral set of Strauss comprising: 1 Heimliche Auffforderung, 2 Ständchen and 3 Zueignung.

Nicolai Gedda perhaps does not strike one immediately as primarily a lieder singer, but much of career was built around recital repertoire. Hs version is beautifully youthful and tender.

Sir Georg Solti postively basks in the virtuosity of the piano part. Here he acompanies Kiri te Kanawa with whom he performed and recorded not only the piano and orchestral version of this song, but also recorded a glorious Vier Letzte Lieder.

While the sheer sweep and drama of many of Strauss’ songs have attracted many larger voices, two very different versions by two very different sopranos reveal how the material can translate well to either voice-type in the hands of an intelligent singer. The Wagnerian size of Birtgit Nilsson (accompanied by Janos Solyom – 1975) contrasts sharply with the lyric colloratura of Kathleen Battle (accompanied by Warren Jones – 1991) but both reveal different aspects of the beauty of this song.

Renée Fleming and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra conducted by Claudio Abbado perform an unidentified orchstration in 2005.

A young Kiri te Kanawa and Richard Amner perform a radiant version at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1978.

Related Material: Nacht und Träume by Franz Schubert, performed here by the two High Priests of Lieder, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone) and Gerald Moore (piano)

Unlike the Linden Tree, the “Tree of Lovers” in German literature, Ständchen is evergreen and beloved the world over.

LINDEN TREE

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