Friday, September 2, 2011

Who Are Xerxes?

The fumbling green-thumb Serse of Georg Handel's 1738 opera may not bear much resemblance to the historic Khashayah Shah (Xerxes) of Persia, but he sure has a timeless aria every tuneful person wants to sing! 'Ombra mai fu' is marked larghetto on the score, though is commonly known as Serse's Largo... perhaps because of our common wish for all good things in life to linger on for a bit longer, especially when singers with big lungs are singing it.


The original Serse was the Italian castrato Caffarelli. There are, thankfully, no castrato around to sing the part today, however, so Serse is usually sung by an operatic mezzo-soprano instead. We are lucky to have many of these wonderful low-voiced ladies around, so here's a little quiz. Can you identify the voices singing Serse's love tune to his plane tree in this video clip?

9 comments:

eyesometric said...

I can't see a video Smorg- just a blank space. Is there a technical hitch or is my iPod playing up. Perhaps I need a different Flash player?

Smorg said...

Ack! Sorry about that, Eyes. I guess the Blogspot player doesn't show for some viewers. I'm substituting a youtube version instead. :o)

eyesometric said...

Ah, voila! Thank you, I'll be back tomorrow as it's way past my bedtime now.

eyesometric said...

I'm more certain of some than others but I reckon ..
1. Stutzman
2. Horne
3. Ernman
4. Kasarova
5. Borodina
6. DiDonato

It was the key changes that threw me more than anything but partly helped establish no 1 in the lowest key of D ma. with Stutzmans contralto.
Astonishing how VK makes the key of F seem much lower than the highest one there!!
I know .... contestants must wait and see ;)

Smorg said...

Hi Eyes! Great first go! :oD

I figured the different keys might help with the ID-ing indeed. Some of the voices need a bit more air time than the others... I suppose there is no hiding Kasarova even in the midst of other mezzos... :oP

I'm hopping on a bus out of town, though. Will pop back in with the answers later. ;o) Thanks for your! And hope your weekend has started well!

Smorg said...

Eyes is, of course, correct on all 6 counts! Thanks for playing, maestra mia. I must make this a bit more interesting next time. ;o)

eyesometric said...

Interesting = difficult ? :)

Smorg said...

Perhaps both (interesting and difficult), matie. ;o) This one was so easily solved by you and by HM at the youtube clip. We sure love and know our mezzos!

thadieu said...

ah, Eyes got it in 1 go already?? :-). i admit i haven't tried, still fighting visciously w/ paper, but am determined one of these days i'll "hear" music on different keys ;-)