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THE SONGBIRD: Christine SchÃ¤fer was born in Frankfurt in 1965. She studied in Berlin with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and had classes with Arleen AugÃ©r and Sena Jurinac. After graduating in 1992, SchÃ¤fer began singing at the opera house in Innsbruck and in 1993 made her U.S. debut as Sophie in San Francisco. In 1995, she was Lulu at Salzburg, a role she also performed at Glyndebourne in 1996 and at The Met in 2001. Other roles at The Met were Gretel, Gilda, Sophie, and Cherubino. SchÃ¤fer starred in a variety of productions around the world: Alcina in Drottningholm, Donna Anna and Violetta in Paris, Zdenka in Houston, Fiorilla in Berlin, Lucia in Frankfurt, Partenope in Vienna, and Gilda in a BBC production at Covent Garden. SchÃ¤fer earned a reputation as a top flight recitalist and made many solo discs of arias, art songs, and lieder. Her disc of Schumann lieder released in 1996 won top prize from Gramophone Magazine that year. In 2014, she announced she was taking a sabbatical and is now a professor of singing.
THE MUSIC: I'm posting various singers doing the arias for the two leading soprano roles in "Alcina" -- this is Alcina's third of six arias.
"Alcina" was composed for Handel's first season at Covent Garden in London and premiered in 1735. The opera soon fell into obscurity and was not performed again until a production in Leipzig in 1928, followed by occasional revivals and recordings that have since grown the opera's reputation; today it is one of Handel's most popular and widely produced. It's one of his "magic" operas with sorcery and spells woven throughout the plot. Alcina and Morgana are sisters and both sorceresses who fall in love with mortals who trick them. Alcina may be Handel's greatest soprano role. In Act Two, when Alcina is informed of her lover's pending betrayal (now that her magic spell over him has been broken), she sings of her heartbreak and desire for revenge in the extremely long, towering aria "Ah! mio cor! schernito sei!."
Ora intendo perché l'arme vestì;
di lui, di or farne vendetta io giuro.
Ah! mio cor! schernito sei!
puoi lasciarmi sola in pianto,
oh dei! perché?
Ma, che fa gemendo Alcina?
Son reina, è tempo ancora:
resti o mora,
peni sempre, o torni a me.
Now I mean why the weapon was dressed;
I swear by him or revenge him.
Ah! my heart! mocked you're!
Nume of love!
I love you so much;
you can leave me alone in tears,
oh gods! why?
But, what is moaning Alcina?
Son reina, it's still time:
remains or blackberry,
always pen, or come back to me.