Mascagni, Pietro: L’amico Fritz
Act 3: Recitative and Aria, “Ed anche Beppe amò … O amor, o bella luce del core” (Fritz)
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.
This aria’s extreme rarity at auditions remains a mystery to me. It fills a nice niche; that is, it satisfies the cravings of the lightish lyric tenor who may have the soul of a verismo singer but lacks the “oomph” for Mascagni’s Turiddu or the high C for Puccini’s Rodolfo.
Far removed from the same composer’s Cavalleria rusticana, this sweetly romantic tale centers on the wealthy Fritz Kobus. He’s a landowner loved by Suzel, the daughter of his steward. He’s disconcerted and unnerved at finding himself unexpectedly attracted to Suzel, having always assumed that he would be a bachelor the rest of his life. He cannot rid his mind of Suzel, however. After his friend, the gypsy Beppe, confesses his own sufferings in love, Fritz’s feelings burst forth in a simple, touching soliloquy: “O love, the heart’s beautiful light, eternal flame…. Shine forth, eternal and radiant...Life is love!”
You don’t need to “milk” this music; you’ll make the necessary impact just by observing Mascagni’s expressive markings carefully and, of course, by singing directly and sincerely. The aria’s start is immeasurably enhanced by giving as feathery an attack as possible on the opening phrase. From the start, you have to hold something back (giving too much too soon is fatal in this style). There are three short sections, with the voice finally opening out fully on “Spanditi, o palpito generator.” That’s where the expected verismo sense of “pouring it on” does indeed come through, lending to an extremely effective B-flat climax on the aria’s penultimate phrase.
Recording: Luciano Pavarotti in complete opera, EMI Classics #67373; Ferruccio Tagliavini in complete opera, Fonit-Cetra #FO 4661818
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