Alexandra Coghlan choses some of her favorite arias and musical moments from the operas that are coming to the Festival in 2019…
Il barbiere di Siviglia: ‘A un dottor della mia sorte’
Dr Bartolo secretly hopes to marry his wealthy ward Rosina. Fearing that she has a rival suitor, he becomes angry and threatens to lock her up. A man of his class, he argues, shouldn’t be treated with such disrespect.
Bartolo’s Act I aria is a classical tongue-twister – a patter song whose mind and mouth-bending torrent of words captures both the doctor’s rage and his fussiness. Hear how the doctor, having worked himself up to an angry climax, seems to lose his mind, repeating ‘Si, si, si’ endlessly like a stuck record.
Rinaldo: ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’
Rinaldo’s beloved Almirena has been kidnapped by the sorceress Armida and her ally, the Saracen king Argante. Left alone with the susceptible Argante she uses all the tricks at her disposal to try and persuade him to release her – emotional blackmail of the most beautiful kind.
‘Lascia ch’io pianga’ is one of Handel’s best-loved arias – an exquisite melody with emotion built into its very structure. Hear how the phrases start haltingly, as though Almirena is fighting back tears, before growing in strength and power as she warms to her tale of woe.
Rusalka: ‘Měsíčku na nebi hlubokém’ (Song to the Moon)
Water-nymph Rusalka is in love with a Prince who comes every day to bathe in the forest pool which is her home. Sitting by the edge of the water she sings a song to the moon, asking it to tell her beloved that she is waiting for him and dreaming about him.
The most famous aria from Dvořák’s opera, ‘Měsíčku na nebi hlubokém’ introduces the passionate heroine who will be so cruelly silenced later on when she sacrifices her voice her love. Her phrases rise persistently upwards, as though she is reaching out towards the moon and the man she cannot have. Harp arpeggios introduce the aria, rippling like the surface of the water.
Cendrillon: ‘Ah! Douce Enfant’
Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters have gone to the ball, leaving her alone by the fire. But just as she is lamenting her situation and wishing that she too could go, La Fée (the Fairy Godmother) suddenly appears in a shimmer of flutes and strings, surrounded by the voices of her fairies. She quickly casts a musical spell on the scene with her glittering coloratura, sprinkling with more than a handful of musical fairy-dust on the domestic setting.
In the video above Caroline Wettergreen performs La Fée’s glittering aria. Caroline sang the role in the Tour 2018 production of Cendrillon. She also performs the Queen of the Night’s famous aria from Die Zauberflöte, a role she will be playing in Festival 2019.
La damnation de Faust: ‘D’amour l’ardente flame’
The moment Faust laid eyes on the beautiful Margeurite he wanted her, and with the help of Mephistopheles was able to seduce her. Abandoned, Margeurite sits alone gazing out of her window wondering if he will ever return to her.
A tender cor anglais introduces this aria – timidly beautiful and softly spoken just like the heroine herself. What starts gently and sadly grows in intensity as the music continues however, revealing something of the passionate feelings that are hidden below Margeurite’s outwardly calm demeanour.
Die Zauberflöte: ‘Pa-Pa-Pa!’
The Queen of the Night’s bird-catcher Papageno is lonely. He cannot find a wife, and in desperation agrees to marry a strange old woman who seems keen on him. But at the moment he agrees to marry her she suddenly transforms into a young woman, his very own Papagena – his romantic dream come true.
As funny as it is charming, the duet for Papageno and Papagena is a highlight of Die Zauberflöte. The light-hearted love between the two characters stands in contrast to the more serious relationship between Tamino and Pamina, and their lusty, exuberant romance is captured in the music’s chattering energy and bird-like billing and cooing.
Members have priority access to Festival 2019 tickets. Public booking opens Sunday 3 March 2019.
Watch Alexandra Coghlan’s introduction to all six operas in the 2019 Festival: