Apr 29, 2013

Monday Music Break: Der Hölle Rache (Queen of the Night Aria)

Today is an opera kind of day.  I woke up with a strong desire to listen to opera, particularly "Mi Chiamono Mimi" from La Boheme.  So on and off all day I've been listening to divas like Maria Callas, Angela Gheorghiu, Maria Aleida Rodriguez, and Valentina Nafornita.

When I remembered it was Monday and time for another Monday Music Break, I began wondering about whether any parts of opera could be considered part of the pagan music scene.  Are there pagan themes in classical opera?  Are there any modern-day operas written for a neopagan audience?

The answer to the first question is yes, there are lots of classical operas with pagan themes!  The Greenman wrote a fabulous three-part series about pagan themes in classical opera.  It's quite detailed, but fascinating!

One of the operas he mentions is The Magic Flute by Mozart.  The play takes place in a temple of Isis and Osiris, centered around a series of bizarre initiation rituals.  The Queen of the Night is another name for the goddess Isis.  An opera featuring a goddess in a major role?  It doesn't get much more pagan than that!

Isis, the Queen of the Night - The Magic Flute
Source: http://garycbenson.blogspot.com/2012/05/magic-flute-costume-design.html 

I've yet to see The Magic Flute (*sadface at how expensive opera tickets are*).  However, the Queen of the Night's second aria, "Der Hölle Rache," has long been one of my favorite arias to listen to, ever since my Pop-Pop gave me a CD with this song and a number of other famous pieces opera music.  So I'd like to share this gorgeous and delightfully pagan piece of opera with you all today.  This performance is by Diana Damrau of the Royal Opera House.

I must say, I am envious of coloraturas like Diana Damrau who can sing this - it's so gorgeous, but gosh are those notes high!  Even when I was taking voice lessons I could never sing like that.

So far I haven't been able to find any modern-day operas with neopagan themes, but I shall keep looking.  If you are aware of any please let me know in the comments, or shoot me an email!

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