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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Frauenliebe und Leben - part 1

Frauenliebe und Leben or "A Woman's Love and Life" by Robert Schumann is my latest summer project. This song cycle is dear to my heart, and I've been too scared to learn it because of its lower range. Fears be damned though, I'm learning it now. I have a woman's life and love to sing for now - maybe that'll compensate for not having a woman's voice.

What I love most about this song cycle is that the poetry is written from a woman's perspective. Most German lieder is written in a man's voice, even though it is transposed for women as well. It gets tedious trying to empathize with my character when I'm singing about the sorrows of my lovely maiden losing her virginity to a tricky fisherman. Though the text of Frauenliebe und Leben was written by a man, Adelbert von Chamisso, he does at least write about something a woman can relate to - falling in love, wedding day jitters, the sudden shyness that creeps in when telling your husband you're pregnant, motherhood, loss . . . it's just a beautiful, bittersweet story, and I've been wanting to tell it for a long, long time.

I'm going to try and post a song from the cycle every week or so, depending on the kind of software my parents have on their computer. This is the first song, Seit ich ihn gesehen, or "Since I saw him," sung by the lovely Barbara Bonney. I'll probably be talking about the cycle a lot in passing, so I wanted you to have a point of reference. I hope you enjoy the simple sweetness and humble honesty that is Robert Schumann.


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