Friday, August 14, 2009
Take This Tune - "sull'aria"
You have all probably heard this aria though many attending the show probably didn't know its source. It was played during one of the best scenes in a wonderful movie: The Shawshank Redemption.
Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding: "I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don't want to know. Some things are better left unsaid. I'd like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can't be expressed in words, and it makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a grey place dares to dream. It was as if some beautiful bird had flapped into our drab little cage and made these walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free."
Now I could tell you what they were singing about, but that would spoil the fun. If you must know, go looking for Mozart's "Le Nozzi di Figaro" (The Marriage of Figaro) and the aria "Sull'aria" - A Little Song On The breeze. It is enough to say that it is a comedy and all the men and women from nobility on down are all tangled up about who loves whom, where and when with farcial chasings about in the moonlight all while Figaro is just trying to get married and bundled up in the bed he was measuring in the Act 1 opening for his about to be grateful and affectionate bride.
This results in an even more remarkable piece of music in the Finale of Act 2, "Conoscete, signor Figaro", that starts as a duet, turns into a trio, then a quartet until it ends as an octet. It represented a record in terms of sustained music in opera at the time (almost ten minutes), and is a testament to Mozart's genius.
Now we all know what can go wrong when you are planning a wedding, not to mention the trouble people can get into when he loves she, but she loves another he, who rejects her for an alternate she, who really has eyes only for the original he not to mention hes and hes and shes and shes (Ain't love strange?).
So the subject is romance, marriage, things not being what they seem, beauty in unexpected places, and all the tangles that go with when you Take This Tune - A Little Song on the Breeze.