Aria For … Wednesday – Marten Aller Arten (Die Entführung aus sem Serail)

In Aria For ..., Classical Music, Mozart, Opera on February 27, 2013 at 9:46 am

An admission. Die Entführung is one of two Mozart ‘major’ operas that I struggle with in its totality. The other is Così Fan Tutte which is strange as I chose Soave il vento as one of the pieces for my recent civil ceremony.

But this aria – and in particular being sung by the late Dame Joan Sutherland – is one that I love. Of course it’s the music itself, the way that Mozart combines the concertante instruments – flute, oboe, violin and cello – with the vocal line but in particular it’s this performance.

This was the first time that I heard Joan Sutherland, sitting cross-legged in the bedroom of a school friend whose mother was a semi-professional opera singer herself.

I think I have said before that in my adolescence I went through a phase of ‘anything but Mozart opera seria’. This put an end to that pretty much.

Of course it’s not an ‘authentic’ performance. To be honest I am not overly keen on the more ‘authentic’ performances with their fermata’d phrases or extra bars.

And of course Joan Sutherland doesn’t quite get into the meat or meaning of the aria itself – there’s no sense of her about to endure ‘tortures of all kinds’ but by golly she sings every note with both pinpoint accuracy and effortless switching vocally from guts and gusto to delicacy and grace.

The orchestra of Covent Garden conducted by Franceso Molinari-Pradelli – and in particular the four soloists – play with impeccable grace and lightness; the tempo is very well judged and everything is beautifully articulated and phrased.

Sutherland herself produces a wonderfully liquid and even tone throughout and across her range and demonstrates the most amazing breath control. She literally glides through the notes, cleaving her way through the coloratura to the great extant she becomes the fifth concertante instrument.

Girds me for any tough day ahead.

  1. I would have to disagree about her not getting into the meaning of the aria… I think she in fact is one of the only singers who really understood what it’s about. Even though it deals with “tortures of all kinds” this is actually Mozart using satire. He’s like Jane Austen in that respect – actually kind of “laughing” ironically at the idea of going through these “tortures”. So she, in actual fact according to me, captured the music perfectly. Most people nowadays miss this satire in Mozart’s music and therefore don’t interpret it with the proper attitude. Nice post, though – and I share your enthusiasm for Dame Joan’s wonderful performance! 🙂

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