Into the Night – Christina Esser, mezzo soprano

    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.

    Johannes Brahms
        – 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.


    Die Stille Stadt (Richard Dehmel)

    Liegt eine Stadt im Tale,
    Ein blasser Tag vergeht.
    Es wird nicht lange dauern mehr,
    Bis weder Mond noch Sterne
    Nur Nacht am Himmel steht.

    Von allen Bergen drücken
    Nebel auf die Stadt,
    Es dringt kein Dach, noch Hof noch Haus,
    Kein Laut aus ihrem Rauch heraus,
    Kaum Türme nach und Brücken.

    Doch als der Wandrer graute,
    Da ging ein Lichtlein auf im Grund
    Und aus dem Rauch und Nebel
    Begann ein Lobgesang
    Aus Kindermund.

    The Silent Town

    A town lies in the valley;
    A pale day fades.
    It won’t be long now,
    Until neither moon nor stars
    But only night will remain in the sky.

    From all the mountains
    Fog pushes down onto the town,
    No roof, no courtyard, no house,
    Not even a sound penetrates the mist,
    Hardly even a tower or a bridge.

    Yet when the wanderer worried,
    There appeared a little gleam upon the ground
    And through the smoke and fog,
    A song of praise began
    From a child’s mouth.

    Laue Sommernacht

    Laue Sommernacht: am Himmel
    Stand kein Stern, im weiten Walde
    Suchten wir uns tief im Dunkel,
    Und wir fanden uns.

    Fanden uns im weiten Walde
    In der Nacht, der sternenlosen,
    Hielten staunend uns im Arme
    In der dunklen Nacht.

    War nicht unser ganzes Leben
    Nur ein Tappen, nur ein Suchen?
    Da in seine Finsternisse
    Liebe, fiel Dein Licht.

    Mild Summer Night

    Mild summer night: in the sky
    No stars rise in the vast woods
    We searched for each other deep in the darkness
    And found one another.

    We found ourselves in the vast wood
    In the night, the starless night,
    In amazement we embraced each other
    In the dark night.

    Was not our entire life
    Only a search, only a quest?
    There In this darkness
    Love, fell your light.

    Von ewiger Liebe (Hoffman von Fallersleben

    Dunkel, wie dunkel in Wald und in Feld!
    Abend schon ist es, nun schweiget die Welt.

    Nirgend noch Licht und nirgend noch Rauch,
    Ja, und die Lerche sie schweiget nun auch.

    Kommt aus dem Dorfe der Bursche heraus,
    Gibt das Geleit der Geliebten nach Haus,

    Führt sie am Weidengebüsche vorbei,
    Redet so viel und so mancherlei:

    „Leidest du Schmach und betrübest du dich,
    Leidest du Schmach von andern um mich,

    Werde die Liebe getrennt so geschwind,
    Schnell wie wir früher vereiniget sind.

    Scheide mit Regen und scheide mit Wind,
    Schnell wie wir früher vereiniget sind.“

    Spricht das Mägdelein, Mägdelein spricht:
    „Unsere Liebe sie trennet sich nicht!

    Fest ist der Stahl und das Eisen gar sehr,
    Unsere Liebe ist fester noch mehr.

    Eisen und Stahl, man schmiedet sie um,
    Unsere Liebe, wer wandelt sie um?

    Eisen und Stahl, sie können zergehn,
    Unsere Liebe muß ewig bestehn!“

    Of Eternal Love

    Dark, how dark in Forest and in Field!
    Already evening, and the world is now silent.

    Nowhere a light and nowhere smoke,
    Yes, and the lark is now silent too.

    Out of the village comes the lad,
    Accompanying his sweetheart  home,

    He leads her past the willows,be
    Speaking so much and of so many things:

    If you suffer shame and sorrow,
    Shame for what others think of me,

    Then may our lovesundered swiftly,
    As quickly as we were united.

    Let us depart in wind and rain,
    As quickly as we were united.

    The girl speaks, the girl says:
    Our love cannot be sundered!

    Steel is strong and iron even more so,
    Our love is even stronger.

    Iron and steel can be melted down,
    Our love, whoever can transform it?

    Iron and steel, they can rust away,
    Our love must always remain!

    In the Twilight

    The twilight is sad and cloudy,
    The wind blows wild and free,
    And like the wings of sea-birds
    Flash the white caps of the sea.

    But in the fisherman’s cottage
    There shines a ruddier light,
    And a little face at the window
    Peers out into the night.

    Close, close it is pressed to the window,
    As if those childish eyes
    Were looking into the darkness,
    To see some form arise.

    And a woman’s waving shadow
    Is passing to and fro,
    Now rising to the ceiling,
    Now bowing and bending low.

    What tale do the roaring ocean,
    And the night-wind, bleak and wild,
    As they beat at the crazy casement,
    Tell to that little child?

    And why do the roaring ocean,
    And the night-wind, wild and bleak,
    As they beat at the heart of the mother,
    Drive the color from her cheek?

    Night at Almalfi (Teasdale)

    I asked the heaven of stars
    What I should give my love—
    It answered me with silence,
    Silence above.

    I asked the darkened sea
    Down where the fishes go—
    It answered me with silence,
    Silence below.

    Oh, I could give him weeping,
    Or I could give him song—
    But how can I give silence
    My whole life long?

    Die Sterne (Gottfried von Leitner)

    Wie blitzen die Sterne so hell durch die Nacht!
    Bin oft schon darüber vom Schlummer erwacht.
    Doch schelt’ ich die lichten Gebilde drum nicht,
    Sie üben im Stillen manch heilsame Pflicht.

    Sie wallen hoch oben in Engelgestalt,
    Sie leuchten dem Pilger durch Heiden und Wald.
    Sie schweben als Boten der Liebe umher,
    Und tragen oft Küsse weit über das Meer.

    Sie blicken dem Dulder recht mild ins Gesicht,
    Und säumen die Tränen mit silbernem Licht.
    Und weisen von Gräbern gar tröstlich und hold
    Uns hinter das Blaue mit Fingern von Gold.

    So sei denn gesegnet du strahlige Schar!
    Und leuchte mir lange noch freundlich und klar!
    Und wenn ich einst liebe, seid hold dem Verein,
    Und euer Geflimmer lasst Segen uns sein!

    The Stars

    How the stars glitter so brightly through the night!
    I have often been awakened by them from slumber
    But I don’t scold the shining entities for that,
    They practice many a healing task in silence.

    They undulate high above in angelic forms
    They light the pilgrim’s way through heath and and forest.
    They hover around like harbingers of love,
    And often carry kisses far across the sea.

    They gently stare in the face of the silent sufferer,
    And wipe away his tears with silver light.
    They gently, comfortingly direct us from the grave,
    beyond the blue sky with fingers of gold.

    So now be blessed, you radiant mass!
    Long may you shine on me again, friendly, clear light.
    And if one day I fall in love, may your grace fall upon this union,
    And let your twinkling be a blessing upon us.

    Nacht und Träume (Collin)

    Heil’ge Nacht, du sinkest nieder;
    Nieder wallen auch die Träume,
    Wie dein Mondlicht durch die Räume,
    Durch der Menschen stille Brust.
    Die belauschen sie mit Lust;
    Rufen, wenn der Tag erwacht:
    Kehre wieder, heil’ge Nacht!
    Holde Träume, kehret wieder!

    Night and Dreams

    Holy night, you descend below;
    Dreams, also float down,
    like your moonlight through the room,
    Through the calm heart of Man.
    They listen with delight;
    Calling out when the day awakens:
    Come back, holy night!
    Graceful dream, come back!

    Preludios (Trueba)

    Madre, todas las noches junto a mis rejas
    Canta un joven llorando indiferencia:
    “Quiéreme, niña,
    y al pie de los altares séras bendita.”

    Esta dulce tonada tal poder tiene
    Que me pone al oirla triste y alegre;
    ¿Di por qué causa entristecen y alegran
    estas tonadas?

    “Hija, lo que las niñas como tú sienten
    Cuando junto a sus rejas a cantar vienen
    Es el preludio del poema más grande
    que hay en el mundo.

    “Tornada en Santa Madre la Virgen pura
    Tristezas y alegrías en ella turnan,
    Y este poema es, niña,
    el que ha empezado junto a tus rejas.


    Mother, every night next to my window lattice
    A weeping boy sings of my indifference:
    “Love me, maiden,
    and you will be blessed beforethe altar.”

    This sweet tune has such power
    That hearing it makes me sad and happy;
    Tell me how these songs can cause
    both gladness and sadness?

    “Daughter, it is what girls like you feel,
    When next to their window lattice they come to sing
    It is the prelude
    to the greatest poem in the world.

    “Transforming into the Holy Mother, the pure Virgin
    Sadness and joy alternate within her,
    And this poem is, child,
    is the one that began outside your window.”