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Tenor
Donizetti, Gaetano: La fille du régiment
Act 2: Romance, “Pour me rapprocher de Marie” (Tonio)

Roger Pines, Dramaturg, Lyric Opera of Chicago
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Aria Talk12/1/2005

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.
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We’ve all heard countless tenors strangle on the nine high Cs of “Pour mon âme” from La fille du régiment. Rather than suffering through that not-very-interesting music and worrying yourself sick about those Cs, wouldn’t you rather impress with a fabulously sustained high B and ravishingly beautiful legato in the romance from Act 2 of Fille? It’s one of Donizetti’s loveliest inspirations and ideal for someone gifted with an easy high “float” in his voice.

Tonio has joined the gallant 21st regiment to be near Marie, only to see her whisked off by the Marquise, who is supposedly her long-lost aunt (of course, she later turns out to be the girl’s mother). The Marquise has arranged a marriage between Marie and the Duke of Krakentorp. Before it can take place, Tonio — now a sub-lieutenant — leads the regiment into the Marquise’s castle and pleads with the noblewoman for Marie’s hand. He confesses to dread at the thought of a life of luxury drawing her away from him and that he’d die if he couldn’t love her. Now he hopes that the voice of Marie herself can convince the Marquise to yield her to him.

Most important is the same sort of open, utterly heartfelt expression you’ll already be accustomed to if you sing Nemorino’s arias. Tonio’s needs even more elegance and a more extended top. Composed in that most buoyant and rapturous of keys, A major, the vocal line of these two couplets is sustained with a grace that, even by Donizetti’s highest standards, is exceptional. Ample skill in the passaggio area is crucial (so what else is new?), as is the ability to sit at length on both the climactic top A of the first couplet and the B of the second. If you feel really daring, you can ascend to an interpolated C# (just don’t scream it!) into the final phrase before finishing it off with a wonderful diminuendo at the cadence. There is ample support from an especially cushiony accompaniment.

Score: G. Schirmer
Recording: Alfredo Kraus in complete opera, Myto #93276; William Matteuzzi, “Ferme tes yeux” (operatic recital), Opera Rara #216
Timing: 4:00
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