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Rossini, Gioachino: Il turco in Italia
Act 2: Recitative and aria, “O sorte deplorabile!...Se ho da dirla…Ah! se nel mondo” (Geronio)
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.
For years the tradition was to assign buffo repertoire to singers with plenty of personality but little voice, and they were granted a certain, shall we say, freedom with notes and rhythms not necessarily accepted in other voices. Today, however, musical standards for a buffo are as high as for anyone else and we expect the big Rossini set-pieces for a buffo baritone to be sung accurately and thoughtfully. If you’re specializing in comic repertoire, Geronio’s aria should be an excellent fit.
Selim, a visitor from faraway Turkey, falls in love with Donna Fiorilla, the wife of Don Geronio. A poet informs Geronio that Selim is planning to abduct Fiorilla at a masked ball, and he advises the put-upon husband to attend the ball disguised as a Turk to foil the scheme. Geronio’s soliloquy then begins with a recitative in which he initially laments his unhappy fate of having to go through all sorts of stress in putting together his disguise — and all for “quel diavol di mia moglie” (“that devil, my wife”). He confesses to not understanding her or really knowing who and what she is. In the aria, he thinks about all the qualities and desires in her that would make him miserable: if she were a gossip, a coquette, and so on. It would drive him crazy if she were mad for hats, if she loved feathers and wigs, if she danced or gambled or went to the theater. He concludes that only were he to go to the moon would he find a woman without a flaw.
Geronio moves from the bluster and frustration of his recitative into the aria proper, which begins with delightful 6/8 section in which you have to move quickly from thought to thought, calling on every bit of word-painting ability at your command. Rossini then launches the first patter section, which is entirely manageable (the patter turns more challenging later in the aria). Throughout the piece, be strict with yourself in making sure that you’re truly singing — it’s easy to be lured into semi-speaking this sort of music. There are nice possibilities for high interpolations, including cadential trills. Enjoy!
Recording: Alessandro Corbelli in complete recording (Decca label)
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