Archives For Canzoni D’Amore

HeaderGretchenBlog

Franz Schubert, born in January 1797, was an Austrian composer who died at the young age of 31 years. His work bridged classical and romantic. He had an early gift for music playing the piano, violin and organ and was also an excellent singer although when his voice broke in 1812 it forced him to leave college, Stadtkonvikt (Imperial Seminary) after earning a choir scholarship there in 1808. His father was a school teacher, and he taught the young Schubert rudimentary violin whilst his elder brother taught him piano. His mother was a home maker and played the cello. He was their 12th child, he had 14 siblings, nine died in infancy.

Franz-Schubert

Franz Schubert

Between 1813 and 1815 Schubert was a prolific songwriter, at the age of 17 he wrote two of his first German Lieds ‘Gretchen am Spinnrade’ and ‘Der Erlkönig’. He worked with texts from poetry giants like Wolfgang von Goethe, interpreting their poetry using his musical creativeness. These pieces are very dramatic, the depiction of the spinning wheel and treadle in the piano in ‘Gretchen’ are a tricky pictorial keyboard figuration.

Therese_Grob

Therese Grob

He had to teach to make ends meet but he hated it. In 1814 he met a soprano called Therese Grob and wrote several works for her, he wanted to marry her but was thwarted by harsh marriage laws where he had to show he had the means to support a family. He lived in the early 1820’s with a close-knit group of artists and students, he and four of his friends were arrested by the Austrian police who were on their guard against revolutionary activities. One of his friends was banished from Austria and Schubert was ‘severely reprimanded’. Schubert was not quite five feet tall and his friends nicknamed him “Schwämmerl” ‘Little Mushroom’.

Franz-Liszt

Franz Liszt

When he died in November 1828, he’d been ill with headaches, fever, swollen joints and vomiting, impoverished and neglected except by a circle of his friends who were in awe of his genius. The composer Franz Liszt said of him after his death that ‘he was the most poetic musician who ever lived’. His output in his short life was prolific consisting of over six hundred secular vocal works (mainly Lieder), seven completed symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music and a large body of chamber and piano music.

Today Schubert is placed amongst the greatest composers of the early Romantic era and as such is one of the most frequently performed composers of the early nineteenth century.

This was the video of performance of this fabulous composition at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod in 2014 courtesy of Llangollen.

gretchen-spinning-wheel

An Early Depiction Of Gretchen am Spinnrade

English Translation

My peace is gone,
My heart is heavy,
I will find it never
and never more.

Where I do not have him,
That is the grave,
The whole world
Is bitter to me.

My poor head
Is crazy to me,
My poor mind
Is torn apart.

For him only, I look
Out the window
Only for him do I go
Out of the house.

His tall walk,
His noble figure,
His mouth’s smile,
His eyes’ power,

And his mouth’s
Magic flow,
His handclasp,
and ah! his kiss!

My peace is gone,
My heart is heavy,
I will find it never
and never more.

My bosom urges itself
toward him.
Ah, might I grasp
And hold him!

And kiss him,
As I would wish,
At his kisses
I should die!

Quando-Men-Vo-Blog

The First Line Translates ” When Walking Alone On The Streets”.

The song Quando M’en Vo is also known as Musetta’s Waltz and comes from the second act of “La Bohème”.

The opera is based on the novel ‘Scènes de la vie de bohème ‘ by Henri Murger. La bohème is a four act Italian Opera composed by Giacomo Puccini. The world premiere was in February 1896 in Turin. The word ‘bohemian’ describes the non-traditional lifestyle of impoverished artists; writers; journalists; musicians and actors in major European cities.

Main cast:

Mimi – a seamstress – soprano
Rodolfo – a poet – tenor
Musetta – a singer – soprano
Marcello-a painter – baritone
Schaunard – a musician – baritone
Colline – a philosopher – bass
Benoit – a landlord – bass
Alcindoro – a sugar daddy – bass
Parpignol – a Toy seller – tenor

Boheme-poster1

Act I
Four friends share an apartment in Paris; Marcello, Rodolfo, Colline and Schaunard they are broke and cold but Schaunard plays for an eccentric English Lord who instructed him to play his violin for his parrot until it died and he earns enough from this to buy provisions and offers to pay for food at the Café Momus to celebrate his good fortune. It is Christmas Eve and Benoit the Landlord tries to collect the rent, they ply him with cheap wine and three of the men go out to the Café Momus leaving Rodolfo behind as he needs to finish an article.
A soft knock on the door disturbs him and he opens it to a lovely, pale young woman who asks him to re-light her candle. He invites her in and she promptly faints. She is called Mimi but her real name is Lucia she sings the famous aria “Mi chiamano Mimi” she embroiders to earn a living, Rodolfo is completely smitten by her and when his friends return to persuade him to come with them she asks if she can go with him, they leave singing of love ‘O soave fanciulla’ (Oh Lovely Girl).

GiacomoPuccini

Giacomo Puccini

Act II
At the Café Momus in the Latin district the friends eat a huge supper and Rodolfo introduces everyone to Mimi. Musetta makes a flamboyant entrance with her wealthy benefactor Alcindoro. Marcello tears Musettas character to shreads, Musetta notices him and is annoyed that he will not look at her. She creates a scene smashing a plate, Musetta turns her full charms on Marcello, she sings ‘Quando men vo’ boasting how everyone watches her when she walks down the street and their looks fill her with desire.
Mimi feels sorry for her and Rodolfo explains that Marcello had once loved her but she left him for the wealthy Alcindoro. Musetta pretends to have a dreadful pain in her foot and sends Alcindoro off to fix her shoe. Marcello is undone with her flirtations and embraces her. When the bill comes the Bohemians don’t have sufficient funds to pay so slyly Musetta suggests they combine bills and let a dumbfounded Alcindoro pay it.

La-Boheme

Street Scene From La Boheme

Act III
Marcello is living in a tavern and paints for the innkeeper, Mimi appears coughing violently she tells him of her hard life with Rodolfo who abandoned her the night before. Marcello confesses that Rodolfo is inside. Rodolfo wakes up and comes out looking for Marcello, Mimi hides, she hears Rodolfo confess his jealousy and reasons for leaving Mimi were a sham, he fears she is being consumed by a deadly illness (most likely consumption). Rodolfo in poverty can’t do anything to help and hopes his pretended unkindness will encourage her to find a wealthy suitor. Mimi’s coughing alerts him to her presence and they agree to stay together until Spring. Meantime Marcello hears Musetta laughing and goes to find her, they quarrel about her flirting.

Act IV
Some months later Marcello and Rodolfo are trying to work, they talk about their girlfriends who have left them and found wealthy lovers. Schaunard and Colline arrive with a frugal dinner to share. Musetta appears she found Mimi in the street that day, severely weakened by her illness, her wealthy lover had left her and haggard and pale they help her to bed. The friends leave to pawn their belongings to buy medicine. Mimi tells Rodolfo that her love for him is her whole life ‘Sono andati’. As Musetta prays Mimi dies leaving Rodolfo weaping with anguish.

This is a video of me singing the aria “Quando M’en Vo” accompanied by Russell Lomas from a recital in Rochdale in 2014. You can download a copy of the song on Amazon or iTunes from my album Canzoni D’Amore.

Songs My Mother Taught Me It is the fourth of seven songs from Dvorak’s cycle Gypsy Songs (Czech:Cigánské melodie), The Gypsy Songs are set to poems by Adolf Heyduk in both Czech and German. This song, in particular, has achieved widespread fame and has been recorded by many famous female singers.

This is my interpretation of the song which I sang at this year’s Kathleen Ferrier Bursary Competition in Blackburn. George Todica accompanied me during the competition and I hope that you like the performance.
I loved preparing this song and tried my best to get the correct feeling and colour into the Czech lyrics and to my Czech friends that listen please let me know how I could improve my pronunciation 🙂

The original Czech lyrics

Když mne stará matka zpívat, zpívat učívala,
podivno, že často, často slzívala.
A teď také pláčem snědé líce mučím,
když cigánské děti hrát a zpívat, hrát a zpívat učím!
The English transalation of the lyrics

Songs my mother taught me, In the days long vanished;
Seldom from her eyelids were the teardrops banished.
Now I teach my children, each melodious measure.
Oft the tears are flowing, oft they flow from my memory’s treasure.

Photo-Ferrier