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Mozart: Queen of the Night’s Act II aria

Song of the Day turns 3 this week!  Here’s a look back at our first week of songs (beginning June 15, 2015) from NYFOS’s artistic director Steven Blier. 

This song-a-day blog is a project I’ve had in mind for years, and I am thrilled to share some of the vocal music I love—from the sublime to the ridiculous. To kick the venture off with a bang, two renditions of the Queen of the Night’s rage aria (Act II, Mozart’s Magic Flute). The first: Maria Galvany, Spanish coloratura from the early years of this century. She was known for her rapid-fire staccato singing, and if the composer didn’t give her sufficient chances to show it off, she simply wrote her own. The second: Peruvian purveyor of exotica Yma Súmac, an icon of my teenage years. She offers the aria with a mambo beat. In Spanish. A minor third lower. With tribal growls. Play all the way to then end. In honor of Gay Pride month, two fabulous Queens.

Yma Sumac: Virgen Del Sol

Some of the most popular exponents of the Peruvian vocal sound have been odd ones, indeed, and Yma Sumac (1922-2008) certainly fits that bill! The running joke is that she was secretly a Jewish woman (spell her name backwards), but she did have an exotic, uncanny tone to her voice (and an enormous range). Her mystique was perhaps abetted by costume work that hinted at a Hollywoodian take of Egyptian… This video makes me smile every time I watch/listen to it.


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