Monday, December 12, 2011

Queen of the Night... Not

You heard a mezzo-soprano already. Mezzo-soprano ("medium" soprano) voice usually extends from the A below middle C to the A two octaves above (it is written as A3-A5 in scientific pitch notation, where middle C = C4). Push comes to shove, some may have the range from G3-C6. Soprano, on the other hand, especially Dramatic coloratura soprano, has range from B3 to high F6! F6 is very very high! That note naturally brings me to talk again about Mozart's Magic Flute opera where his Queen of the Night aria reaches the note F6 not one but four times. I had an old blog of this aria from the movie "The Magic Flute," but that soprano is not among the best sopranos who sang this aria. Here is a better rendition by Diana Damrau. This opera was in German and the words are below to help you understand what the Queen was raging about while ordering her daughter princess Pamina to kill her father, the Queen's husband Sarastro:

Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen, (The revenge of Hell cooks in my heart,)
Tot und Verzweiflung flammet um mich her! (Death and despair flame around me!)
Fühlt nicht durch dich Sarastro (If Sarastro does not feel through you)
Todesschmerzen, (Death’s pain,)
So bist du meine Tochter nimmermehr. (Then you will never again be my daughter.)
Verstossen sei auf ewig, (you’ll be Disowned eternally,)
Verlassen sei auf ewig, (Abandoned may you be eternally,)
Zertrümmert sei'n auf ewig (Destroyed be eternally)
Alle Bande der Natur (All bonds of nature,)
Wenn nicht durch dich (If not by you)
Sarastro wird erblassen! (Sarastro becomes pale! (as death))
Hört, Rachegötter, (Hear, the revenge of the Gods,)
Hoert der Mutter Schwur! (Hear the mother's oath!)

Everybody wants to sing this aria. Following Ms. Damrau is a hilarious attempt by a nobody soprano. Pay attention to the amusement felt by the violinist sitting behind the singer. She can't reach the high notes, but she's so willing to try!
Queen of the Night

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