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Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus: Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Act 2: Aria, “Wenn der Freude Tränen fliessen” (Belmonte)

Roger Pines, Dramaturg, Lyric Opera of Chicago
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Aria Talk4/1/2006

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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Belmonte, the heroic nobleman of Entführung, has no fewer than four arias. In the better-known Mozart works, that’s probably more than any other character in any vocal category! So why is it that we hear “O wie ängstlich” in auditions nine times out of 10? That can get a little tiresome, considering that there are three other possibilities in proving that you’re a “natural” for Belmonte. Poor old “Wenn der Freude” comes in dead last in popularity. Yes, it’s technically tricky, but nowhere near as difficult as “Ich baue ganz” — and, of the four arias, it’s perhaps the most beautiful and certainly the most emotionally affecting.

Belmonte has gained entrance to the palace of Pasha Selim, where his beloved Konstanze is being held captive. His resourceful servant, Pedrillo (also a captive, along with Konstanze’s maid Blondchen), manages to get the Pasha’s overseer, Osmin, to drink too much wine. When Osmin falls asleep, that clears the way for Belmonte’s reunion with Konstanze. In the few moments before Pedrillo brings her to him, Belmonte ecstatically looks forward to seeing his beloved again. He anticipates that the two of them will weep tears of happiness, which will simply mean that love is smiling on them. In thinking of how he’ll embrace Konstanze, he can’t imagine that any royal crown could possibly compare with that joy. Finally, he realizes yet again how painful their separation has been.

The aria begins with an exquisitely gentle lilt in its repeated chords that must continue when the vocal line enters. Each declaration of Konstanze’s name must glow with warmth, and true sweetness of tone is required for each repetition of “…ist der Liebe schönster, größter Sold.” As is the case in all of Belmonte’s arias, an exceptional command of the passaggio must be your most essential vocal asset here. A solid bottom range is important, too, considering the leaps from low C to high G, also low D to high A-flat — challenging, yes, but mastering them will be an enormous step forward for your technique! The final section demands, if anything, even more grace than what we hear earlier in the aria. In its quiet way, this aria demands everything of a lyric tenor: sovereign technique, polished musicality and heartfelt sincerity.

Score: C. F. Peters
Recording: Fritz Wunderlich, “The Magic of Wunderlich,” DG #B0005130; Stuart Burrows in complete recording, Philips #22538
Timing: 4:15
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