Monday, January 31, 2011

Now Available on Kindle at

So Faithful a Heart: The Love Story of Nancy Storace & Wolfgang Mozart is now available in a Kindle Edition for only $5.99. Download yours now, HERE. Don't own a Kindle and/or can't afford one? You can download a FREE Kindle reader for your PC, Netbook, or iphone HERE.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Villain You Love to Hate and Hate to Love: Count Almaviva

Ah! Count Almaviva. How could a man be so cold and uncaring? How could he be so unfaithful to his lovely wife? And with her personal servant girl who's engaged to be married to his valet? Only Mozart and da Ponte could create a character so strong, so compelling...someone you hate to love and love to hate.

Simon Keenlyside sings the Count's aria, Hai gia vinta la causa.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Beloved Cherubino

By far the most beloved character in Le Nozze di Figaro has to be the 14-year-old boy who is in love with love, Cherubino. Mozart and da Ponte created the role to be sung by a woman wearing men's clothing (a trouser role), and since that time it has been one of the most coveted roles for mezzo-soprano.

This scene features one of the most beloved Cherubinos of all time, Frederica von Stade, singing the aria "Non so piu".

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mozart Week: Le Nozze di Figaro Act I: Via, resti servita

In this comical scene between the servant Susanna and the noblewoman Marcellina, we see the classical tension between the servant working class and the nobility. To say that Mozart and da Ponte removed the "politics" from Le Nozze di Figaro is a fallacy. Figaro is chocked full of the revolutionary politics of the time with the Count's servants working to outwit him and undo his plans at every turn.

Notice the slurs in the violins that sound like cats "meowing", indicating the "cat fight" that breaks out between them.

Marcellina (curtsying): To greet you, my lady, I'm honored supremely.
Susanna (curtsying): By your recognition I'm flattered extremely.
Marcellina (curtsying): Please enter before me.
Susanna (curtsying): No, no, you go first!
Marcellina: I beg you, ignore me!
Susanna (mocking): Your noble position, fine and patrician, inspires respect.
Marcellina (mocking): I know my position, bow to tradition, fine and patrician, with all due respect.
Marcellina: The bride of the hour!
Susanna: A lady of station!
Marcellina: The Count's little bella!
Susanna: The pride of the nation!
Marcellina: Her attitude!
Susanna: Dignified!
Marcellina: Her posture!
Susanna: Your age!
Marcellina: I swear I shall fly at her in one minute more!
Susanna (aside) Decrepit old battle ax, I'll settle your score.
Marcellina: I praise your deportment without reservation.
Susanna: And I, your experience and broad reputation!
Marcellina: So young and so pretty!
Susanna: The belle of the city!
Marcellina: What distance between us!
Susanna: The true Spanish Venus!
Marcellina: So innocent!
Susanna: Durable!
Marcellina: So simple!
Susanna: So old!
Marcellina: How dare she make fun of me, it is a disgrace!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

It's Mozart Week!

Because January 27th, is Mozart's 255th birthday, I'll be celebrating by posting a scene from his opera, The Marriage of Figaro every day through this coming Thursday. Mozart regarded Figaro as one of his greatest triumphs and the role of Susanna, created for Nancy Storace, is considered one of the most coveted soprano roles.

Today I've featured the opening scene in Act I of Le Nozze di Figaro. Starring Bryn Terfel as Figaro and Alison Hagley as Susanna.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Music: Exsultate Jubilate

In the year 1772 when Mozart was 17, he and his father, Leopold, traveled to Italy where he was commissioned to compose an opera (Lucio Silla), for the theater in Milan. It was there that Mozart was introduced to an amazing castrato (adult male soprano), named Venanzio Rauzzini, whom young Mozart said "Sings like an angel". Mozart composed his motet Exsultate Jubilate especially for Rauzzini and it was premiered on 17 January 1773 in Milan.

Only a few years later, Rauzzini moved to England and became a noted and respected voice instructor. When Nancy Storace turned 11 years old, her father turned her vocal instruction over to Rauzzini who, after hearing that some damage had been done to her voice (most likely due to over-singing and too much intense performing at such a young age), forbade her to perform for a year while he worked with her to undo the damage.

Rauzzini finished out his life and career in England and died in Bath in April of 1810 at the age of 63. Nancy Storace and her then common law husband, the English tenor, John Brahm (who had also been a student of Rauzzini's), erected a stone plaque in his memory.

The following is the Alleluia from Mozart's Exsultate Jubilate. Sung by male soprano Michael Maniaci.