Franz Peter Schubert Composer
3 Gesänge, D.902, Op.83Performances: 6
3 Gesänge, D.902, Op.83Year: 1827
Genre: Solo Song / Lied / Chanson
Pr. Instruments: Voice & Piano
- 1. L'incanto degli occhi
- 2. Il traditor deluso
- 3. Il modo di prender moglie
1. L'incanto degli occhiPublished by Haslinger in September 1827 as the first of Gesange (3) für Bass-Stimme mit Klavier (Three Songs for Bass Voice and Piano), Schubert's second setting of Pietro Metastasio's L'incanto degli occhi (The Magic of Eyes) (D. 902, No. 1) was dedicated to the Italian bass Luigi Lablache. A star of the Karntnertor Theater since 1824, Lablache was familiar and even friendly with Schubert and the latter's three bass songs were apparently intended to be performed by the former. Whether he did so or not is unknown, but the quick publication of the songs and the success with which they met in both popular and critical terms is testimony to the power of both Lablache and, to a lesser extent, Schubert's name at the time. L'incanto degli occhi is a cavatina in binary form, with the repeat of the opening section slightly modified and a lovely coda added at the end. The song opens and closes in C major, with a typically Schubertian modulation down a major third to A flat major for the second section and a typically Schubertian chromatic side-slip back to the tonic for the closing section. The melody is at once Italianate in its sensuous roulades and German in its sensitivity to wordpainting. But the overall effect of the song is a sort of playful sensuality combined with a very gentle parody of Italian vocal music that makes it one of Schubert's most delightful Italian settings.
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2. Il traditor delusoSchubert wrote three songs dedicated to Luigi Lablache, the Italian bass of the Karntnertor Theater, that were published together as Op. 83 in September 1827 by Haslinger. Of the three, the first, L'incanto degli occhi, is charmingly seductive and the third, Il modo di prender moglie, is lightly amusing, but the central song Il traditor deluso (The Traitor Deceived) (D. 902/2) is a full-fledged mad scene complete with recitative stromatato and aria da capo. Lablache was famous for his mad scenes and Schubert here wrote him a mad scene to end all mad scenes. In fact, some commentators have said that, like the other two songs from Op. 83, there is more than a hint of parody in Il traditor deluso's E minor dementia; that in fact, it was self-consciously composed as a mad scene to end all mad scenes. With its tremolos, rolling and thundering in the piano, its recitative's wild outbursts, and its da capo aria's insane flights of notes, it is easy to see why Il traditor deluso might be seen as a parody. And certainly, the Karntnertor Theater's emphatically Italian bias that had effectively shut down Schubert's own operatic ambitions might have tempted him to not only best the "enemy" at its own game, but also point out the silliness of that game. But, knowing Schubert's gentle nature, it is difficult to credit him with attempting to make fun of anyone, much less an artist he admired enough for whom to write songs.
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3. Il modo di prender moglieThe last of Schubert's Gesange (3) für Bass-Stimme und Klavier (Three Songs for Bass Voice and Piano) (D. 902) from 1827 is clearly a humorous song. Although some commentators have suggested that L'incanto degli occhi (The Magic of Eyes) and Il traditor deluso (The Traitor Deceived) are both parodies, the former could be more easily interpreted as a charmingly seductive cavatina and the latter could be more justly interpreted as a deadly serious recitative and da capo aria. Il modo di prender moglie (How to Choose a Wife) (D. 902/3) seems entirely lighthearted. How else to understand a text (once supposed to have been written by Pietro Metastasio) in which the singer proudly declares that he is marrying for money and boldly asks the listener to find fault with his choice. Indeed, Schubert's music seems in both general outline and in particular details to be based on the famous catalog aria of Leporello from Mozart's Don Giovanni. With the dedicatee of the three songs being Luigi Lablache, the then-famous Italian bass of the Karntnertor Theater, it is hard to imagine that the intention of Il modo di prender moglie could have been anything but to entertain.
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