July 24, 2020
How to sing Mozart arias (from Lessons on stage)

Here is a short video where I take 3 phrases from Ferrando’s first aria: Un’aura Amorosa from Cosi Fan Tutte, break it down a little bit, and talk about a few musical things I’ve learned.

The Opening Phrase

Remember in this moment you are having to create the atmosphere. There is no Introduction or Prelude that provides a dramatic tone. You come straight from the recitative, it is extremely exposed, you have one measure from the orchestra and off you go!!

So, two things you want to think about with this beginning phrase:

1. You are setting the structure, tempo, and dramatic tone of the aria out of the gate.

2. You want to make sure that you are setting a nice, easy, narrow vocal track with your very first onset. The tessitura of the aria is very difficult so you want to be in position from the beginning.

The Transition

This is a lovely moment where you have orchestral, and textural changes, along with a new dramatic urgency. There can be a temptation to speed up because of the new orchestration, and while there might be a slight movement forward, it actually stays pretty steady. That being said, don’t be afraid to play with the rhythm and tempo here to find what is the most comfortable and most artistically expressive. One recommendation - Either stay steady, or speed up a bit, but I wouldn’t slow it down. Often times it has a tendency to lose some of the tension, and dramatic urgency, but that is my opinion. Play with it and see what you come up with.

Two things about the transition:

1. Be sensitive to the new dramatic urgency and color in this moment, and what that means for the expression.

2. Don’t be afraid to play with the rhythm and the tempo a little bit to find what allows you the greatest expression, and plays within the style.

The Final Phrase

This final phrase, like most, if not all Mozart arias, while very beautiful, is extremely difficult to execute. My suggestion, especially when first learning it, in the two phrases leading up to the first fermata(“un dolce ristoro”) - don’t make too much of them. Keep it simple, and move through them. The biggest temptation when singing these last two phrases is to lose the dramatic tension of the moment. This is a lovely moment, both musically and dramatically,so however long the pauses are(I wouldn’t make them too long, but don’t be afraid to experiment, especially when first working on it😃) make sure that you are carrying the dramatic thought through each pause, all the way to the end of the aria. And when you reach that last “Al cor porgera” move like crazy! Knock that phrase out, and get outta there!

Three things about the final phrase:

1. In the two phrases before the first fermata, move through them. Keep it simple, and move ahead. It will also help keep weight out of the voice.

2. Make sure in the dramatic pauses that surround “un dolce ristoro” that you don’t drop the dramatic tension.

3. When you get to that final phrase - GO GO GO!

Written by:

Norman Reinhardt

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