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Strauss, Richard: Arabella
Act One: “Wenn aber das die Folge wär. Gewesen” (Mandryka)
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.
With lower-voiced male singers, there’s not much from the Strauss operas that is heard in auditions, but I see no reason why you couldn’t try Arabella. Mandryka has two speeches in his first scene that are possible. The second one, “Mein sind die Wälder,” is quite large-scale and can very easily turn shouty and aggressive. The first speech, on the other hand, is exceptionally lyrical; perhaps the character’s most beautiful solo passage in the entire role.
Desperate to make a wealthy match for his beautiful daughter, Count Waldner sends her portrait to Mandryka, an old friend. A stranger comes to see Waldner: it is another Mandryka, whose uncle (Waldner’s friend) has died. The younger man has fallen in love with the portrait. Speaking from the heart, he declares that any man who would see that face and not present himself as a suitor doesn’t deserve to live on earth. He concludes by begging Waldner to give him the girl as his wife.
Although the role is often done by bass-baritones who also sing, say, Wotan or Jochanaan, Mandryka has just as often been memorably done by baritone voices along the lines of Dietrich
Fischer-Dieskau years ago or Thomas Hampson today. The sensitivity and fervor such singers cultivate in their Lieder singing can come to the fore in these heavenly phrases, which must be colored throughout by this appealing character’s deep longing. At the same time, however, the technical demands are formidable: a rolling quality of tone; a large range; command of leaps upward (to high F and F-sharp) and to the bottom of the staff as well.
Recording: George London in complete performance, Decca #460230; Hans Hotter in complete performance, Deutsche Grammophon #445-342-2
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