Porgi Amor

Posted by Brian PCF
Oct 31 2013

The Countess’s Aria presents us for the first time in the opera, a seemingly uncomplicated character. Everyone so far has secrets and schemes. All of the characters want someone who wants someone else or wants something that someone else has, but the Countess just wants her husband, the man that should be hers.

The first things we notice about the Countess’s aria are the long intro. She has a full 17 measures of instrumentation that lays the mood for the piece before she begins her solo. What we here in that opening is strings: violin and viola, followed by clarinet, french horn, and bassoon. In the first few measures, the higher pitched violin and the lower pitched viola play together with no instrument taking the lead. The same goes for the first few measures when we have the higher pitched clarinet, with the lower pitched french horn and bassoon. But soon the lower pitched horns and viola sound softer and play less often, while the clarinet and violins continue to play louder and more often. The instrumentation seems to back up what we find later through the vocals: the Countess love lingers, but the Count’s no longer interested in what he’s already caught.

Next we notice the key: the same E-Flat we found in Cherubino’s aria in No. 6. His aria was “allegro vivace”, meaning “joyful, very lively tempo.” The Countess in “larghetto”, meaning “fairly slow tempo.” Also noteworthy is that Cherubino was on stage for much of Act I and never alone. The Countess is on for a mere 48 measures (the smallest part so far) and is singing by herself. Cherubino can’t really decide exactly who he wants in his aria, and his demand is that he either desperately wants love or he will “talk alone of love”.

The Countess words match the accompaniment: simple and to the point. The Countess wants what was seemingly promised (and perhaps at one time had), the love of her Count. And if she doesn’t get it, she would rather die. The instrumentation throughout her part is lacking in flourish. Many quarter notes in a very simple 2/4 time signature. Moreover, she just repeats the same refrain again and again.

This is seemingly the simplest and most straightforward character we’ve been introduced too, which makes for an interesting element. Every other character has been maneuvering and presenting one face to the audience, and another face to the other players. It is perhaps the most intriguing way to add complexity to the plot: add a simple, genuine person. The other characters won’t know how to handle her.

Complete video here.
Complete score here.

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