Arias for Aloysia Weber
Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century
Frans Brüggen, conductor
Glossa Composer, 1999
This is not one of the best known albums devoted to Mozart arias, but Arias for Aloysia Weber offers an interesting musical path, which is modeled on the love story of the young Mozart for Aloysia, the composer’s first love within the Weber family and later his sister-in-law after his marriage to her younger sister Constanze. It would be superfluous to summarize here the events of this known story and I rather prefer to remember the words with which Leopold Mozart, who for his part did not like the Webers, described the voice of the singer:
It can scarcely be denied that she sings with the greatest expression: only now I understand why some persons I frequently asked would say that she has a very weak voice, while others said she has a very loud voice. Both are true. The held notes and all expressive notes are astonishingly loud; the tender moments, the passage-work and embellishments, and high notes are very delicate, so that for my taste the one contrasts too strongly with the other. In an ordinary room the loud notes assault the ear, while in the theatre the delicate passages demand a great attentiveness and stillness on the part of the audience.
Arias for Aloysia Weber collects the less known arias written by Mozart for her, those which were included in operas by other composers, as was customary at the time, leaving aside the most well known roles of Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. Among the most famous, I remember: Non so donde viene (of which there is also a version for bass), Ah, se in ciel, benigne stelle and Popoli di Tessaglia.
The voice of Arias for Aloysia Weber is that of Cyndia Sieden, coloratura soprano who has to her credit numerous recordings of Mozart’s operas, but which is rather neglected on the international scene, which is a pity, considering that she is an amiable and solid technical singer, although occasionally she hesitates or do not avoid some slight imperfection. These are minutiae, however, if we consider the perfect agilities, the security in the high register, so dear to Mozart, and the excellent phrasing.
We do not know the voice of Aloysia Weber except from contemporary descriptions like the one quoted above, but Sieden’s voice fortunately does not show those contrasts denounced by Leopold Mozart even if, as far as you can guess from the recording, she shares with her ancient collegue a not exceptionally great voice. In addition, Sieben’s “thin” voice remininded me of a prestigious contemporary singer very active in this repertoire, Edita Gruberova. You know that usually I do not make comparisons between the singers, but in this case I noticed between the two sopranos a significant similarity both in timbre and technique (but Sieden does not have the habit of the Slovak soprano to accack the notes from below), to the point that in some moments you would have been able to exchange the one for the other.
Arias for Aloysia Weber is a perfectly successful album, which comes as a great introduction to this repertoire and to Cyndia Sieden, of whom I hope to write again.