The singing year has started for me as well as the Arbourist.  My teacher and I have set two goals for this year:

  1. That I will develop good practicing habits
  2. That I will finally let my big voice out at its full size

In furtherance of these goals, she’s assigned me big, challenging repertoire that there’s no way I’ll be able to manage without practicing my butt off.  Which, it turns out, means All the Wagner.


Since the theme for this semester is Art Song, I’m working on three of his five Wesendonck Lieder.  Two (“Traume” and “Der Engel”) I’ve tried before and found I’d bitten off more than I could chew but maybe I’ll be ready for them now; new into the mix this year is “Stehe Still”.  It is an absolute privilege to be challenged with such gorgeous music.  Here’s Jessye Norman, my vocal hero, singing “Stehe Still”:

Is it an amazing piece of music or what?  All those weird intervals, and completely unexpected chord changes, and yet it just completely works!

Richard Wagner wrote the Wesendonck Lieder while he was staying at the estate of Otto and Mathilde Wesendonck.  There’s controversy over exactly what may or may not have transpired between Richard and Mathilde, but there’s little doubt that they were intensely infatuated with one another.  Wagner put aside his work on the Ring Cycle during his time at the Wesendonck’s, and wrote his Wesendonck Lieder – settings of Mathilde Wesendonck’s poetry – and Tristan und Isolde during this period.  Wikipedia entry