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Jared Steven Destro

OUTDATED: Air for Soprano & Piano - Lentamente, i primi foglie verde pallido

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Here is another air for soprano and piano, based on a text my mother wrote (which I translated as well as I could). Again, the flute is used instead of the choral patch. Let me know what you think, and, if you know Italian, if the translation is accurate. Thanks!

 

UPDATE: This piece has been changed and moved into an updated collection here ------> 

 

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Great! I think you're very talented for this kind of composition. The melody is beautiful. There are some surprising harmonic changes: bar 133, for instance. Also bars 76-80 are quite interesting.

The structure is also fine. Often, in baroque times, there was a faster middle part, as there is here. In fact it was something like a "rest" to prepare the da capo section.

I only have two suggestions: in some points, the melody doesn't rest for too many bars. We must think there should be someone singing.

The climax note (bar 109) a high E is, perhaps too high for a "normal soprano". Yes, many coloratura sopranos can sing that note, but I doubt they can sing a low B (bar 137). Yes, it's possible but probably this could have been sung by "la Callas" and no more.... Caballé couldn't sing a high E. Sutherland could, of course, but the low B ... ¿?

Sorry, I am a super-big fan or Opera.

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4 minutes ago, Luis Hernández said:

Great! I think you're very talented for this kind of composition. The melody is beautiful. There are some surprising harmonic changes: bar 133, for instance. Also bars 76-80 are quite interesting.

The structure is also fine. Often, in baroque times, there was a faster middle part, as there is here. In fact it was something like a "rest" to prepare the da capo section.

I only have two suggestions: in some points, the melody doesn't rest for too many bars. We must think there should be someone singing.

The climax note (bar 109) a high E is, perhaps too high for a "normal soprano". Yes, many coloratura sopranos can sing that note, but I doubt they can sing a low B (bar 137). Yes, it's possible but probably this could have been sung by "la Callas" and no more.... Caballé couldn't sing a high E. Sutherland could, of course, but the low be ... ¿?

Sorry, I am a super-big fan or Opera.

 

Thanks for the input; I can always count on you! I personally am not the biggest fan of opera, so your suggestions do help. I know that this piece tests the soprano's range, as it goes to the extreme low, as well as the upper limits. I certainly don't think this is exactly for beginners, but I believe its doable. As for the rest, I'll have to look into that, since I'm a little unfamiliar with how much rest or breaking a vocalist might need. Thanks again.

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About the pauses, perhaps, you don't have to worry too much. A singer can find the rest in the cadenzas or similar parts.

But the "range" of the voice (tesitura) is more important. Few singers could sing this. In Spanish we call them "todoterreno" which is as a four-wheel car, a multifunctional voice. Singers that have a mixed range of mezzo + soprano, or coloratura contraltos (Ewa Podles can sing from lower notes than low B to high D). But these singers are very few. Colortura sopranos reach high F (like in Mozart's Queen of the Night aria from the Magic Flute), even high G (the highest note written) also by Mozart in a concerto aria (Popoli di Tessaglia... Io non chiedo), but these sopranos cannot sing well lower notes.

Of course, the model of "todoterreno" soprano was Callas. She sung Bellini (I Puritani) and Wagner (Parsifal) the same week!! That's impossible! (for everyone, but her).

Many arias for soprano or mezzo do not surpass a hight Bb, or Ab, because is the highest note a "normal" mezzo can sing (well). For instance: O mio babbino caro (Puccini).

I think you would enjoy listening to some arias in you tube, that comes with the score...

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On ‎05‎.‎07‎.‎2016 at 9:19 PM, Luis Hernández said:

About the pauses, perhaps, you don't have to worry too much. A singer can find the rest in the cadenzas or similar parts.

But the "range" of the voice (tesitura) is more important. Few singers could sing this. In Spanish we call them "todoterreno" which is as a four-wheel car, a multifunctional voice.

I agree with Luis in that the range you demand from the Soprano is enormous. We are talking two octaves and a diminished fifth. Most solos, apart from contemporary studies and other virtuoso works do not exceed two octaves of range. For reference, a Soprano voice in the choir is usually given as C4-G5 (and that includes mezzo-sopranos). Although, as you can probably tell from my profile photo, I'm not a Soprano, and by no means a professional singer, I would recommend not going over two octaves for a solo voice.

If you are aiming for a coloratura soprano (in which case the topmost note you can securely ask for would be a C6, maybe a D6 if you really wanted to push her - higher notes, as Luis mentions, are possible, but were usually part of an operatic role written specifically for a well-known singer who would sing the part in the premiere), I would not venture below D4 - many sopranos already have difficulty sounding notes below E4. And if you want your A#3, then do not go above A or B5.

Requiring the B5 be held for four whole bars on an "e" sound is also harsh (b. 60 ff) - a Soprano solo could do it, I mean, but they would prefer a syllable that ends on a plosive (i.e. "p, c, t") which allows them to initiate the breath far more easily than a vowel. Poetically speaking, I also don't really see why you would stress "e" by holding it so long, considering it just means "and". My recommendation here would be to hold your B5 for 4 bars, but then use the first part of the first triplet as a rest instead of a prolongation.

The problem is, in my opinion, your Soprano part seems to be written for an Oboe - no offence meant, it would make for a splendid tone poem indeed: the tune is fantastic. I understand you mean the piece to test the singer's abilities, but apart from Callas or Malibran, I can hardly imagine any "normal" professional singer would reach those limits without the effect and tone colour being detrimental to the music - not to mention to the singer's voice.

 

Other than that, I have hardly anything to say on the music itself - you always write very nice and moving pieces. The melody is particularly suiting for the text and very touching.

 

On the poem itself, however:

Italian is not my first language, but there are a few things that would need correcting. I would write it as follows (but the opinion of a mothertongue speaker would be welcome):

Lentamente, le prime foglie verde pallido appaiono,

Cercando il calore del sole e la pioggia rinnovante.

Madre Terra nutre/nutrisce ancora (una volta) i nostri corpi ed anime.

One can say both nutre and nutrisce, the choice is yours. Similarly, you can choose to elide vowels (which will happen anyway in singing, because it's hard to pronounce two vowels distinctly one after the other), e.g. cercando 'l calor del sole and ancor. I'm not sure whether una volta is necessary at all in the sentence, rather it seems to me to convey the idea of "one last time" - but don't take my word for that. You might say di nuovo instead of ancora, but I have mixed feelings about that - on the one hand it sounds nicer and more appropriate, but on the other it sounds too modern and not poetic. The help of a native speaker would be needed here.

Good work, as always, I enjoyed it very much.

 

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at m75. i heard some nice full chords, and it made me think of something you should listen. this is like jazz and classical music merged i love that. solid work!

 

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