Sunday, July 15, 2012

Celebrating the anniversary of "Die Entführung aus dem Serail"

For all of you BariChunk lovers: Kurt Rydl as Osmin in Salzburg
Mozart's opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail premiered on this date in 1782. We often don't focus a lot on the bass end of the barihunk range, so we thought this would be the perfect opportunity. The opera contains three arias for Osmin and the music goes down to the lowest reaches of the bass range.

Mozart wrote the role of Osmin for the formidable bass Ludwig Fischer, who was a friend of the composer. Mozart also wrote the aria "Alcandro, lo confesso…Non sò, d'onde viene" (K. 512) for the singer and some other concert arias. This is significant, because he had primarily written these concert show pieces for sopranos and the occasional tenor.

Ludwig Fischer
A letter between Mozart and his father dated September 26, 1781 shows that Osmin originally had very little music.
 "In the original libretto Osmin has only [one] short song and nothing else to sing, except in the trio and the finale; so he has been given an aria in Act 1, and he is to have another in Act 2. I have explained to Stephanie [the librettist] the words I require for the aria ['Solche hergelaufne Laffen'] - indeed, I had finished composing most of the music for it before Stephanie knew anything whatever about it. I am enclosing only the beginning and the end, which is bound to have a good effect. Osmin's rage is rendered comical by the use of the Turkish music. In working out the aria I have allowed Fischer's beautiful deep notes to glow. The passage 'Drum beim Barte des Propheten' is indeed in the same tempo, but with quick notes; and as Osmin's rage gradually increases, there comes (just when the aria seems to be at an end) the Allegro assai, which is in a totally different metre and in a different key; this is bound to be very effective. For just as a man in such a towering rage oversteps all the bounds of order, moderation and propriety and completely forgets himself, so must the music too forget itself. But since passions, whether violent or not, must never be expressed to the point of exciting disgust, and as music, even in the most terrible situation, must never offend the ear, but must please the listener, or in other words must never cease to be music, so I have not chosen a key foreign to F (in which the aria is written) but one related to it - not the nearest, D minor, but the more remote A minor."
The first aria is "Wer ein Liebchen hat gefunden," which advises the listener to reward your loved one with kisses and make her life great,  as well as to locking up your woman's other lovers, lest they tempt her to forget her faithfulness.

Gottlob Frick sings "Wer ein Liebchen hat gefunden":

In the aria "Solche hergelaufne Laffen" Osmin graphically explains why he does not like Pedrillo. It's is mainly because Osmin and Pedrillo are both in love with Blondchen and Pedrillo is in better favor with both Blondchen and the Pasha.

Gottlob Frick sings "Solche hergelaufne Laffen":

After Pedrillo, Belmonte, Blondchen, and Konstanze are captured trying to escape, Osmin sings of the delight that he will have when they are all hanged in the aria "O wie will ich triumphieren."

Kurt Moll sings "O wie will ich triumphieren":

Ezio Pinza sings the aria in Italian:

Since the aria contains one of the lowest notes in the standard repertory, we thought that it would be fun to compare some of the greatest basses and their low D's (the aria goes from D2 to D4).

In chronological order:
1. Ezio Pinza 1947 (in Italian)
2. Mihaly Szekely 1959 (in Hungarian)
3. Gottlob Frick 1966
4. Kurt Moll 1974
5. Marti Talvela 1984
6. Matti Salminen 1987
7. Jaako Ryhänen 1988
8. Robert Lloyd 1991
9. Cornelius Hauptmann 1992
10. Franz Hawlata 2006
11. Kurt Rydl 2006

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