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Love songs by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

This episode features Mozart's romantic arias and music by Alban Berg

This episode features Mozart's romantic arias and music by Alban Berg

This episode of DW Festival Concert combines Mozart arias with Alban Berg's "Lyric Suite."

Soprano Anna Prohaska and the Hamburg-based Ensemble Resonanz collaborated on this program. The conductor of today's show, Italian Riccardo Minasi, is recognized as a Mozart expert.

Anna Prohaska is one of the most exciting young singers in European opera today, and she brought an unusual and special program to the 2022 Beethoven Festival in Bonn.

Prohaska's career started quite early. At 18, she made her debut at the Komische Oper Berlin as Flora in Benjamin Britten's opera "The Turn of the Screw." Then at 23, she joined the Berlin State Opera as a permanent ensemble member. Her debut at the Salzburg Festival in 2009 cemented her reputation as one of today's preeminent interpreters of Mozart.

Love and seduction

And we're going to hear her perform his music in this show, starting with the well-known recitative and aria from Mozart's legendary opera, "The Marriage of Figaro. It tells the story of Susanna and Figaro, who are servants to Count and Countess Almaviva and who are getting married. The count tries to seduce Susanna, an act that angers Figaro.

In this recording, we'll hear Prohaska sing "Giunse al fin il momento…Deh vieni non tardar," or "The moment has finally arrived…come, don't delay." In the opera, it is sung by the chambermaid Susanna.

In that aria from the opera's final act, the chambermaid Susanna is dressed up as the countess, who she serves, in an attempt to expose the count's inappropriate lustful advances toward her. But Susanna's newlywed husband, Figaro, is also listening in on her, and she knows this. So what sounds like a simple, beautiful love song is actually quite complex.

A monument to love

After the first aria, we'll listen to the first three movements from Alban Berg's "Lyric Suite." The philosopher Theodor Adorno even once described Berg's piece as a "hidden opera." This secret story of Berg's composition was only brought to light in 1977, when the American music researcher George Perle discovered a pocket score of the work that had written on it, "to Hanna Fuchs."

Berg met Hanna in May 1925 and fell madly in love with her. He began composing the Lyric Suite in September that same year and eventually finished it just over a year later. Originally composed for string quartet, Berg considered the piece to be "a small monument to a great love."

The suite, which we'll hear arranged for string orchestra, was primarily composed according to the 12-tone system, which means it lacks a tonal center, with every note being given equal weight. However, various reoccurring elements are written in B and F Major. This is a sort of secret code for Hanna's name, since the note B in German musical notation is called H. So that's actually H and F major: Hanna Fuchs.

Love's longings

Berg's "Lyric Suite" is followed directly by soprano Anna Prohaska singing the aria "Non piu di fiori," or "No more flowers," from Mozart's opera, "La Clemenza di Tito," or "The Clemency of Titus." It is sung by the character Vitellia, the daughter of a deposed emperor.

She then follows up with another Mozart aria, which is not from an opera. It is called "Ch'io mi scordi di te?" or "Will I forget you?"

Alban Berg's fourth, fifth and sixth movements from his "Lyric Suite," which follow Prohaska's arias, complement this melancholy-romantic mood. The fourth movement, "adagio appassionato," bears the title "Days after" and the fifth movement is entitled, "The fears and torture that now come." This is a "scherzo" in five parts that expresses the madness caused by unfulfilled love. Things don't sound so rosy anymore.

The sixth and final movement, the "largo desolato," expresses losing the will to live. Over the notes in the score, Berg penned the poem "De profundis clamavi" by French writer Charles Baudelaire. It begins: "Out of darkest night sounds my call to you, my one and only." This text isn't always performed, but we'll be treated to Anna Prohaska singing this part in a German translation by Stefan George.

Steady and everlasting love

Immediately after that, we'll hear Prohaska sing another Mozart aria: "Come scoglio," or "Like a rock," Fiordiligi's famous aria from the opera "Cosi fan tutte," or "They're all like that." The giant interval leaps represent a rocky cliff in a stormy sea, a symbol of steadiness and loyalty,

We're going to end today with their recording of Mozart's Symphony 41, the "Jupiter" Symphony. It was Mozart's last symphony, and it's the last piece in today's show.

Thanks to sound engineer Thomas Schmidt and producer Anastassia Boutsko, and thanks to you for listening. If you have any feedback, drop us a line at music@dw.com. We would love to hear from you!

This article was originally written in Germa