Mozart Arias Part 5: for bass
The last we heard from the bass Karl Fischer (back in part 1) he had asked Mozart, who complied, for an insert aria in 1783. In early 1787 Mozart was doing preliminary work on Don Giovanni. Fischer had just been dropped from the Vienna Italian Opera Company and wanted to show the authorities what a grave mistake they had made. He requested a new aria and that it be dramatic and in Italian. Alcandro, loconfesso…Non so d’onde viene was performed at Fischer’s subscription concert March 21. If the title seems familiar that’s because Mozart used the same text for Aloysia Weber’s first concert aria back in 1778. This aria has it all: ultra rich lines from the depths of the bass register with leaps to its upper range, some fast scales, and an abrupt tempo change for the middle section.
In early November of 1787 Mozart was basking in the success of the just premiered Don Giovanni at the National (now Estates) Theater in Prague. To his young friend and pupil Gottfried von Jaquin back in Vienna he wrote: “NB, just between you and me;–I so wished that my good friends, particularly Bridi and you, could be here just for one evening to share my happiness here!” and, “after I get back I’ll bring you the Aria so you can have it right away and sing it;” Gottfried was an amateur singer. Such was their friendship that Mozart wrote two songs for him and apparently allowed them to be published under Gottfried’s name (maybe so he could impress a woman?). He was also the dedicatee of half a dozen vocal trios, five of them accompanied by three basset horns.
Who knows which ‘Aria’ Mozart was talking about? We do know he wrote one for von Jaquin that was dated March 23 of that year (1787). It is about a father’s farewell to his daughter, and is poignant, pleading, simply beautiful and not too technically demanding for an amateur such as von Jaquin. Here is Mentre ti lascio, oh figlia (As I leave you, my daughter).
I’d truly like to be the emperor!
The Orient I’d like to rip through
The Muslims would shiver
Constantinople would be mine!
Would Mozart ever have agreed to compose to these words? If you are in the employ of the Holy Roman Emperor you might not have a choice! We’ll never know if Mozart was caught up in Austro-Turkish war fever or not. There is not a single document revealing his political leanings, if he had any at all; but he did write this German war song for a patriotic concert which took place on March 7, 1788. The singer was Friedrich Baumann, a popular comedian with limited vocal talent. There are four verses and the inclusion of piccolo, cymbals, and bass drum in the score give the song a strong Turkish flavor which must have brought down the house. The only mention of this work is in Mozart’s musical catalogue. Perhaps he didn’t even attend the concert!
Ein deutsches Kriegslied
Francesco Albertarelli played the title role in Don Giovanni when the opera was staged in Vienna in May 1788. Soon thereafter he would be singing in Anfossi’s comic opera Le gelosie fortunate (Jealousy Rewarded). Mozart gave him an insert aria with a clever text that seems to be the hand of his librettist partner Lorenzo Da Ponte. The character is giving tongue-in-cheek advice to his friend on the pitfalls of marrying a pretty young woman. The very recognizable tune you hear near the beginning showed up three months later in the first movement of Mozart’s last symphony, the Jupiter.
Un bacio di mano (A kiss on her hand)
To this day we don’t know for sure who wrote the aria Lo ti lascio(I’m leaving you). In 1799 Constanze Mozart wrote to the music publishers that her husband only wrote the violin parts and the rest was composed by his good friend Gottfried von Jaquin (see above). Since the latter was also a composition student of Mozart’s, that could be a possibility. We do know that the type of Viennese paper used was from 1788 and that irregardless of the composer(s), the tempo marking is Adagio.
Thanks to Antje Ruppert for war song translation!
Next: Four more arias for tenor and the only one for alto