Verdi: Canzoni / Damrau, Haider
Haider, Friedrich; Gutierrez, Cesar Augusto; Damrau, Diana; Edelmann, Paul Armin
Giuseppe Verdi finished his first volume of Romances with none other than two of Gretchen’s songs from Goethe’s Faust, which gives the publication a particularly fascinating perspective. Imagine the late bloomer from Busseto, who was just working on his first opera, and was considering all possible text sources – it might be conjecture but not completely absurd to see a first, tentative approach to Goethe with the pieces “Meine Ruh ist hin” (“My peace is gone”) and “Neige, neige, du Schmerzenreiche” (“Lean down, you who are full of sorrow”). It may be only postulation, but consider if we had lost not just the planned King Lear, but a Faust as well...! The second volume of six Romances (1845) is more colorful and varied, as humorful and melancholy strains alternate. The gloomy yet beautiful evening scene “Il tramonot” (“The Sunset”)  stands next to “Zingara” with its bolero rhythms and musically blazing eyes , and next to the desire of the prisoner for the freedom of the lovely evening star (“Ad una stella”) . After that, in the cheery chattering of the “Spazzacamino”  (“The Chimneysweep”), it’s easy to understand why his harmonies in three-quarter time aren’t all that elegant: “I look coarse and black, and everyone who gets too close to me gets black as well...“ At the end, Felice Romani’s glowing ode to his wife (“Il mistero”)  leads on to a sparkling paean to wine: apparently both are cardiotonic medicines, if we are to believe the last words in each.