Uplifting a Struggling Spirit – Christa Dalmazio, soprano

    December 203rd, 7pm (EST)

    Uplifting a Struggling Spirit

    Christa Dalmazio, soprano, with Chris Fecteau, piano
    Songs of Andre Previn, Samuel Barber, Joaquin Rodrigo, Gaetano Donizetti, Fanny Hensel, and Richard Strauss


    The Coronavirus pandemic caught all of us off guard last winter, and caused sudden shock with the travel bans, lengthy lockdowns, and so much grief from sickness and death. The intense physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering we’ve all been enduring unites us around the world. We hope that this recital can provide a respite from the stress of our daily lives, and we look forward to sharing these poignant and energizing stories with you. 


    We open with the first song from a set by Andre Previn, with the text by Emily Dickinson, As Imperceptibly as Grief. This eloquent poetry is filled with images of light, darkness, and nature being compared to human grief. There is such difficulty in describing what one feels like during the stages of grief which is a journey experienced uniquely by each individual. We can all relate to things in the beauty of nature,  such as the changing of the sun over the course of a day or the way the current guides a boat through water even without wind in its sails. The song concludes by urging those of us who are grieving that this season will pass, and that healing results in feeling the beauty of peace.

    The next three selections are from The Hermit Songs, by Samuel Barber. The texts are attributed to 8th to 13th century Irish monks and scholars. The text of St. Ita’s Vision is attributed to a vision received by St. Ita of The Virgin Mary responding to the mission of God to bear the infant Jesus, and imagining the beauty of her life devoted to raising the savior. The Crucifixion portrays that event from the intimate perspective of his mother’s observation of  her son’s torture and death on the cross. Both songs drive home the gravity of a mother’s love for her child, and bring to mind memories of childhood through the life and death of one’s child. We’ve all been faced with the thought of our own mortality and the fleeting nature of this short life during this pandemic. The final song of this set is The Heavenly Banquet, a much more lighthearted text attributed to St. Brigid, the Irish patron Saint of beer! There is joy and hope in imagining all the people one may encounter when they reach Heaven, and all the celebration and beer drinking that could ensue.

    ¿De dónde venís, amore?  by Joaquin Rodrigo continues the pursuit of uplifting the spirit through a search for love.  There is still always love and light to be found in the little things and simplicity often overlooked throughout our busy days. The song concludes with the flirtatious spirit of confidence, knowing that love and joy can always be found if adamantly looked for.  The first of two Donizetti songs, L’amante spagnuolo, brings to life a thrilling story of the anticipated return of a lover on horseback.  The second song of the pair, La Zingara, tells the tale of a gypsy with psychic powers, who grew up frolicking with goats and dancing from village to village with her fellow gypsies. One day she experiences falling in love with the most handsome man she’s ever seen, and wishes that he would read her fortune as she’s reading his palm. The initial excitement of new love is often a source of high energy and anticipation for a joy-filled future. May we all connect through the joy and love of friendship and loved ones in support of each other as we proceed through this time. 

    The next song, Frühling, by Fanny Hensel, depicts joyful new beginnings and the renewal of nature. New life and love are in the air. The light of the moon and sounds of birdsong bring feelings of reassurance that this personal joy belongs to you!  The next German song, Die Nacht, by Richard Strauss reinforces this notion of the peaceful magic of night and the intimacy of feeling love through the beauty of nature.  The final Strauss selection, Amor, spins the story of mischievous Cupid wittingly tricking a shepherdess to fall in love through playful beguilement. The shepherdess throws caution to the wind as her heart catches on fire with the love of Cupid.  Just as her spirits were ultimately uplifted by the energetic and mischievous child of nature and love, we hope you will be captivated by the engaging retelling of these colorful stories and poetry! 


    As Imperceptibly as Grief  (Emily Dickinson)

    As imperceptibly as grief
    The summer lapsed away, —
    Too imperceptible, at last,
    To seem like perfidy.

    A quietness distilled,
    As twilight long begun,
    Or Nature, spending with herself
    Sequestered afternoon.

    The dusk drew earlier in,
    The morning foreign shone,
    A courteous, yet harrowing grace,
    As guest who would be gone.

    And thus, without a wing,
    Or service of a keel,
    Our summer made her light escape
    Into the beautiful.

    St. Ita’s Vision  (Saint Ita, trans. Chester Kallman)

    “I will take nothing from my Lord,” said she,
    “unless He gives me His Son from Heaven
    In the form of a Baby that I may nurse Him”.
    So that Christ came down to her
    in the form of a Baby and then she said:

    “Infant Jesus, at my breast,
    Nothing in this world is true
    Save, O tiny nursling, You.
    Infant Jesus at my breast,
    By my heart every night,
    You I nurse are not a churl
    But were begot on Mary the Jewess
    By Heaven’s light.

    Infant Jesus at my breast,
    What King is there but You who could
    Give everlasting good?
    Wherefore I give my food.
    Sing to Him, maidens, sing your best!
    There is none that has such right
    To your song as Heaven’s King
    Who every night
    Is Infant Jesus at my breast.”

    The Crucifixion  (8th – 13th c.  Irish, trans. Howard Mumford Jones)

    At the cry of the first bird
    They began to crucify Thee, O Swan!
    Never shall lament cease because of that.
    It was like the parting of day from night.
    Ah, sore was the suffering borne
    By the body of Mary’s Son,
    But sorer still to Him was the grief
    Which for His sake
    Came upon His Mother.

    The Heavenly Banquet  (8th -13th Irish, trans. Seán Proinsias Ó Faolái)

    I would like to have the men of Heaven in my own house;
    With vats of good cheer laid out for them.
    I would like to have the three Marys,
    Their fame is so great,
    I would like people from every corner of Heaven.
    I would like them to be cheerful in their drinking.
    I would like to have Jesus sitting here among them.
    I would like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings.
    I would like to be watching Heaven’s family
    Drinking it through all eternity.

    ¿De dónde venís, amore?  (anonymous text)

    ¿De dónde venís, amore?
    Bien sé yo de dónde.
    ¿De dónde venís, amigo?
    Fuere yo testigo!
    ¡Ah!  Bien sé yo de dónde.

    Where do you come from, love?

    Where do you come from, love?
    I well know where.
    Where do you come from, friend?
    Be my witness!
    Ah!  I well know where.

    L’amante spagnuolo  (Leopoldo Tarantini)

    Corri destrier, deh, celere!
    Corri! La via divora!
    Recami accanto all’angelo
    Che la mia vita infiora.
    Deh, pria che l’alba in cielo
    Spanda il suo roseo velo,
    L’avverta il tuo nitrito
    Che il suo fedel tornò.

    E il volto a lei di giubilo
    Tu scintillar farai,
    E de’ suoi dì delizia,
    O mio destrier, sì, sarai.
    Verrà la man pudica
    A carezzarti amica,
    E men di te felice
    Io stesso allor sarò.

    The Spanish Lover

    Run warhorse, ah, hurry!
    Run!  Devour the path!
    Bring me to the angel
    Who makes my life blossom.
    Please, before dawn
    Spreads her rosy veil in the sky,
    May your neighing warn her
    That her faithful one will return.

    And you will make her face
    sparkle with jubilation
    And you shall be the delight of her days,
    O my horse.
    Her demure hand will come,
    To caress you, friend,
    And I myself
    will be less happy than you.

    La Zingara  (Carlo Guaita)

    Fra l’erbe cosparse di rorido gelo,
    coverta del solo gran manto del cielo,
    mia madre esultando la vita me diè.

    Fanciulla, sui greppi le capre emulai,
    per ville e cittadi, cresciuta, danzai,
    le dame lor palme distesero a me.
    La ra la.   Ah! la zingara.

    Io loro predissi le cose note,
    ne feci dolenti, ne feci beate,
    segreti conobbi di sdegno, d’amor.
    La ra la, etc.

    Un giorno la mano mi porse un donzello;
    mai visto non fummi garzone piu bello:
    oh! s’ei nella destra leggessimi il cor!

    The Gypsy

    In the grasses sprinkled with dewy frost,
    covered only by the great mantle of the sky,
    my mother, exulting, brought me to life.

    As a little girl I emulated the goats on their crags,
    growing up, I danced through villages and cities;
    Women held their palms out for me to read.
    La ra la.    Ah! The gypsy.

    I predicted to them things foretold,
    I made them sad, I made them blessed,
    I learned secrets of disdain, of love.
    La ra la, etc.

    One day a young man offered me his hand;
    I never saw a man so handsome:
    Oh! If only he were to read my heart in my hand!

    Frühling  (Joseph von Eichendorff)

    Über’m Garten durch die Lüfte
    Hör’ ich Wandervögel ziehn,
    Das bedeutet Frühlingsdüfte,
    Alles fängt schon an zu blühn.

    Jauchzen möcht’ ich, möchte weinen,
    Lenz und Liebe muß das sein!
    Alle Wunder wieder scheinen
    Mit dem Mondesglanz herein.

    Und der Mond, die Sterne sagen,
    Und in Träume rauscht der Hain,
    Und die Nachtigallen schlagen:
    Sie ist dein, ja sie ist dein!


    Above the garden. through the air
    I hear migrating birds
    That means spring scents,
    Everything is already beginning to bloom.

    I want to shout, I want to cry
    That must be spring and love!
    All the wonders shine again
    In with the moonlight.

    And the moon, the stars say
    And the grove rustles in dreams,
    And the nightingales sing:
    She is yours, yes she is yours!

    Die Nacht  (Hermann von Gilm zu Rosenegg)

    Aus dem Walde tritt die Nacht,
    Aus den Bäumen schleicht sie leise,
    Schaut sich um im weitem Kreise,
    Nun gib acht.

    Alle Lichter dieser Welt,
    Alle Blumen, alle Farben
    Löscht sie aus und stiehlt die Garben
    Weg vom Feld.

    Alles nimmt sie, was nur hold,
    Nimmt das Silber weg des Stromes,
    Nimmt vom Kupferdach des Domes
    Weg das Gold.

    Ausgeplündert steht der Strauch,
    Rücke näher, Seel an Seele;
    O die Nacht, mir bangt, sie stehle
    Dich mir auch.

    The Night

    Night steps out of the woods,
    And sneaks softly out of the trees,
    Looks about in a wide circle,
    Now beware.

    All the lights of this earth,
    All flowers, all colors
    It extinguishes, and steals the sheaves
    From the field.

    It takes everything that is dear,
    Takes the silver from the stream,
    Takes away, from the cathedral’s copper roof,
    The gold.

    The shrubs stand plundered,
    Draw nearer, soul to soul;
    Oh, I fear the night will also steal
    You from me.

    Amor  (Clemens Brentano)

    An dem Feuer saß das Kind
    Amor, Amor
    Und war blind;
    Mit dem kleinen Flügel fächelt
    In die Flammen er und lächelt,
    Fächle, lächle, schlaues Kind.

    Ach, der Flügel brennt dem Kind!
    Amor, Amor
    Läuft geschwind!
    “O wie ihn die Glut durchpeinet!”
    Flügelschlagend laut er weinet;
    In der Hirtin Schoß entrinnt
    Hülfeschreiend das schlaue Kind.

    Und die Hirtin hilft dem Kind,
    Amor, Amor
    Bös und blind.
    Hirtin, sieh, dein Herz entbrennet,
    Hast den Schelmen nicht gekennet.
    Sieh, die Flamme wächst geschwinde.
    Hüt dich vor dem schlauen Kind!


    By the fire sat the child
    Cupid, Cupid
    and was blind;
    with his little wings he fans
    into the flames and smiles;
    Fan, smile, sly child!

    Ah, the child’s wing is burning!
    Cupid, Cupid
    runs quickly.
    O how the burning hurts him deeply!
    Beating his wings, he weeps loudly;
    To the shepherdess’s lap runs,
    crying for help, the sly child.

    And the shepherdess helps the child,
    Cupid, Cupid,
    naughty and blind.
    Shepherdess, look, your heart is burning;
    You did not recognize the rascal.
    See, the flame is growing quickly.
    Save yourself, from the sly child!