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Verdi, Giuseppe: Il trovatore
Act 1: Narrative: “Di due figli…Abbietta zingara” (Ferrando)

Roger Pines, Dramaturg, Lyric Opera of Chicago
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.

Basses’ Verdi audition aria of choice is generally Macbeth’s Banco, but that aria’s vocalism offers less variety than that of Trovatore’s Ferrando. The latter’s technical demands, too, are far greater. A successful performance of Ferrando’s aria demonstrates both imaginative interpretation and very impressive technique. Ferrando, captain of Count di Luna’s guards, is telling the guards a story: Years before, an old gypsy was found by the cradle of the Count’s infant brother. After the child grew ill, the gypsy was burned at the stake. The cradle was later discovered empty and the child gone. Bones found in the ashes were presumed to be those of the child. It was thought that the gypsy’s daughter had kidnapped the child and thrown him into the smoldering fire.

The narrative can unfold vividly if you bring the quality of mystery to your expression while singing with pinpoint precision. That means the legato of the introductory phrases, punctuated by brief but essential trills (this music is sung a second time to different text in the aria’s “B” section); and then, in the aria’s “A” section — a ¾ allegretto — frequent octave leaps requiring a real springiness, plus repeated gruppetti and ascending four-note groups of sixteenths that must be perfectly articulated. The range isn’t especially wide and much of the aria is marked piano or pianissimo, but at “Ammaliato egli era!” (“He was bewitched!”) you can show full power on a sustained high E.

Score: Ricordi or G. Schirmer
Recording: Bonaldo Giaiotti in complete opera, RCA #39504; Ezio Pinza in operatic recital, Preiser #89050
Timing: 4:00

Fall 2014 Magazine Issue
  • Are Women Different?
  • Preparing for Klinghoffer
  • Emerging Artists: Act One

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