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Lortzing, Albert: Der Wildschütz (1842)
Act 2: Aria, “Mich faßt der Schmerz” (Baron Kronthal)

Roger Pines, Dramaturg, Lyric Opera of Chicago
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Aria Talk1/1/2009

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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Lortzing is a rarity in German opera, in that he actually gives his leading tenors music that can be characterized as blithe, even jaunty (to use two appropriate old-fashioned adjectives). In the Baron’s two-part aria from Der Wildschütz, the mezzo has too many interjections in the first half to make that portion suitable for auditions. No problem with the second part, however; it’s the livelier section, excellent in terms of length and full of the essential charm that one immediately associates with Lortzing’s comedies.

The Count of Eberbach and Baron Kronthal are friends and the latter is the brother of the Count’s wife, although they’ve long been separated. He knows who she is but not vice versa, so when the Baron tells the Countess about an enchanting girl he’s just met on the estate, the Countess thinks delightedly that she is herself being wooed. Suddenly from outside the window the Count hears the voice of the girl he loves (she’s actually Baroness Freimann in disguise — I’m not making this up!), and declares that he’ll be happy only if he tells her of his love.

This is a marvelously buoyant 6/8 number, in which some slight pulling back of the voice on key words can add much to your expressiveness. There are a few tricky phrases, but nothing insurmountable (unless you really hate sustaining the word “Lust” on a high G), and a confident tenor can truly relish the final arpeggio ascent to the climactic high A. Throughout you can create a feeling of amorous eagerness, emphasized with breathless syncopated exclamations of “Ach! Ach!” toward the end.

Recording: Peter Schreier in complete recording, Berlin Classics #1143
Score: Peters
Timing: 2:45
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