Marschner, Heinrich: Hans Heiling
Act 1: Aria, “An jenem Tag” (Heiling)
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.
If you’re a lyric baritone wanting a German aria with greater variety and vocal thrust than in, say, Wagner’s Wolfram, try Hans Heiling. One of Wagner’s most important predecessors in the romantic repertoire, Marschner was writing for a voice of some weight and considerable range. Still, while well beyond Papageno vocally, Heiling remains in the lyric category.
The title character, a demigod and son of the Gnome Queen, has fallen in love with Anna, a mortal girl. Over his mother’s objections, he’s determined to renounce his kingdom below earth. Seeing that this foreigner Heiling is wealthy, the girl’s mother, Gertrude, talks her into becoming engaged to him. Anna, however, senses something unearthly in him that gives her pause. The aria begins with Heiling assuring her of his love. He recalls the moment that she promised him fidelity: from a joyless night, he awakened to a bright new life. He indicates that if she ever left him, both their hearts would turn cold and he would have an ugly revenge. Finally he reiterates that he loves her but with endless pain, anxiety, and frenzied longing.
After opening in broadly arching lines, the aria moves into greater intimacy before turning excitingly urgent in tone. Even if you command the necessary smoothness of tone and ringing high Gs, you’ll make an effect only by combining those assets with terrific clarity of diction. That includes a pure “ee” vowel even on the repeated declarations of “Ich liebe dich” with the first syllable of “liebe” sung on high E.
Score: Edition Peters
Recording: Thomas Hampson, #55233; German opera arias;
Heinrich Schlusnus, arias, Preiser #89006; Hermann Prey in complete performance, Opera d’Oro #1345
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