Sunday, November 15th, 5pm (EST)
Into the Night
Christina Esser, mezzo soprano, with Chris Fecteau, piano
Songs of Alma Mahler, Johannes Brahms, Amy Beach, Franz Schubert, and Manuel de Falla
I always hope to continue growing by drawing on life’s lessons, especially during difficult times. Though this quarantine has presented many challenges, the solitude and introspection from isolation has also allowed me to explore different facets within myself and find more active and sincere ways I can be helpful in fighting for change.
Darkness can represent transformation if one chooses to perceive it as an opportunity for growth rather than as a purely menacing, despairing force. Though wandering through the dark unknown can be terrifying, it is necessary, for light cannot exist with darkness. I believe there is always a lesson to learn from this duality, and it has been a staple of my growth and desire to continue transforming through change.
The focus on darkness in this recital is symbolic to these aspects of transformation and growth and will provide a wanderers journey through the night.
Alma Mahler: Two songs
– Die Stille Stadt is the beginning of a journey into the unknown. After witnessing an impenetrable darkness that engulfs the city, the “dreaded wanderer” perceives a gleam of light and hope. The transforming tone and moods foreshadow the entirety of what night brings throughout the program; a journey from calm peaceful stillness, to chaos, heartache, faith, growth, ultimately ending with acceptance.
– Laue Sommernacht (A Mild Summer Night) continues the wander narrative of the previous song. The gleam of hope at the end of Die Stille Stadt gives way to two lovers who have found each other deep within the darkness of a starless calm night. The quest and anxiety through the darkness has led them to this beautiful unity.
– Von ewige liebe begins with a boy accompanying his love through a dark, quiet forest. After a peaceful introduction, the mood transforms into a tempest of doubt and chaos. The boy expresses insecurities over the maiden’s perception of him and questions her sincerity. The maiden’s calm voice pierces through the dark and stormy clouds with faith and reassurance, as the storm dissolves into a sweet resolution of loving contentment.
Amy Beach: 2 Songs
– In the Twilight sets an eerie, serious tone as the night foreshadows menacing and difficult times ahead. The song alternates between anxious flurries in the piano, and calm, optimistic vocal lines mirroring childlike wonder and innocence. These alternating motives ultimately resolve in emptiness. The journey leaves us in despairing silence.
– Night song at Amalfi – After a tempestuous ocean of uncertainty, there is now only silence. The wanderer experiences heartache and pain, calling out to the night for help. She calls to the ocean and stars, but is still only answered with silence and despair in the empty void of the night.
Franz Schubert: 2 Songs
– Die Sterne (The Stars) provide a loving answer to the anxious wanderer below. The stars “practice many a healing duty in silence” as they “gently stare at the silent sufferer in the face, and wipe their tears with silver light”. The stars provide warm hope and reassurance of love and light to the wanderer; reassurance that everything will be alright.
– Nacht und Träume is a holy dream arriving after a this blessing from the stars. This sweet dream provides acceptance, beauty, and healing, and prepares the wanderer for the return of light into the newly approaching day.
Manuel de Falla
– Madres todas las noches provides the finale of our program’s journey, embodying the transformative power of both darkness and light in the form of joy and sadness. Though the darkness might feel despairing and eternal, love’s light will always find the most hopeless of wanderers, guiding them and transforming them into the new day.
As we continue through this incredibly dark and uncertain period of time, light can always be found in the darkest of places. Light pierces the darkness with courage and love. As we persevere, we can inspire those around us with the most powerful light we all carry within: the light of love.
TEXTS AND TRANSLATIONS:
|Die Stille Stadt (Richard Dehmel)
Liegt eine Stadt im Tale,
Von allen Bergen drücken
Doch als der Wandrer graute,
|The Silent Town
A town lies in the valley;
From all the mountains
Yet when the wanderer worried,
Laue Sommernacht: am Himmel
Fanden uns im weiten Walde
War nicht unser ganzes Leben
|Mild Summer Night
Mild summer night: in the sky
We found ourselves in the vast wood
Was not our entire life
|Von ewiger Liebe (Hoffman von Fallersleben
Dunkel, wie dunkel in Wald und in Feld!
Nirgend noch Licht und nirgend noch Rauch,
Kommt aus dem Dorfe der Bursche heraus,
Führt sie am Weidengebüsche vorbei,
„Leidest du Schmach und betrübest du dich,
Werde die Liebe getrennt so geschwind,
Scheide mit Regen und scheide mit Wind,
Spricht das Mägdelein, Mägdelein spricht:
Fest ist der Stahl und das Eisen gar sehr,
Eisen und Stahl, man schmiedet sie um,
Eisen und Stahl, sie können zergehn,
|Of Eternal Love
Dark, how dark in Forest and in Field!
Nowhere a light and nowhere smoke,
Out of the village comes the lad,
He leads her past the willows,be
If you suffer shame and sorrow,
Then may our lovesundered swiftly,
Let us depart in wind and rain,
The girl speaks, the girl says:
Steel is strong and iron even more so,
Iron and steel can be melted down,
Iron and steel, they can rust away,
|In the Twilight
The twilight is sad and cloudy,
But in the fisherman’s cottage
Close, close it is pressed to the window,
And a woman’s waving shadow
What tale do the roaring ocean,
And why do the roaring ocean,
|Night at Almalfi (Teasdale)
I asked the heaven of stars
I asked the darkened sea
Oh, I could give him weeping,
|Die Sterne (Gottfried von Leitner)
Wie blitzen die Sterne so hell durch die Nacht!
Sie wallen hoch oben in Engelgestalt,
Sie blicken dem Dulder recht mild ins Gesicht,
So sei denn gesegnet du strahlige Schar!
How the stars glitter so brightly through the night!
They undulate high above in angelic forms
They gently stare in the face of the silent sufferer,
So now be blessed, you radiant mass!
|Nacht und Träume (Collin)
Heil’ge Nacht, du sinkest nieder;
|Night and Dreams
Holy night, you descend below;
Madre, todas las noches junto a mis rejas
Esta dulce tonada tal poder tiene
“Hija, lo que las niñas como tú sienten
“Tornada en Santa Madre la Virgen pura
Mother, every night next to my window lattice
This sweet tune has such power
“Daughter, it is what girls like you feel,
“Transforming into the Holy Mother, the pure Virgin