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Donizetti, Gaetano: La fille du régiment
Couplets: “Pour une femme de mon nom” (Marquise)
Aria Talk •
Editor's Note: Aria Talk focuses not on the tried-and-true pieces you undoubtedly already know, but on somewhat off-the-beaten-track arias. The hope is that this music will prove a refreshing musical and interpretive change not only for you, the performer, but also for those hearing you in auditions.
Although on the short side, this piece is potentially a treat for you and your listeners. Especially if you’re a contralto and resigned to singing comparatively somber material, the comic element may come as a welcome relief; you can start with, say, the Rheingold Erda and then let down your hair (so to speak) as the madcap Marquise. When we first meet this endearing noblewoman, her coach’s journey through the mountains of the Swiss Tyrol has been interrupted by the sounds of fighting. She laments that in wartime no one gives a thought to people of rank. At this moment she feels an attack of the vapors coming on and a migraine as well. In her second verse, she reveals that people have told her that the French are a lot of robbers, with no respect for innocence or manners. They prey on any pretty face, so she knows only too well what’s in store for her!
The voice should be ample, full of color and easy down to the B-flat below middle C (I’ve heard one singer interpolate a run down to a fifth below that in the second verse). There are a few patter-like phrases near the end, for which you need fine verbal dexterity. Particularly if you begin with dramatic fare, people will be surprised when you show them the rhythmic bounce and delicious light touch that are essential to this piece. Provided your lower octave is totally comfortable, you’ll have no vocal worries so you can give your attention to style and character.
Score: International Music
Recording: Hélia T’Hézan in complete recording, EMI CMS 763128 2; Monica Sinclair in complete recording, Decca #414520
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