Lost for words

Besides the potentially cruel There was a young man from Calcuttaanother song that might make a suitable anthem for the Stammering Association is Rossini’s Mi manca la voce, or “My voice fails me”, from his 1818 opera Mosè in Egitto:

Apart from the sheer beauty of the music, it reminds me of group therapy sessions I’ve taken part in. Despite their protestations, all four (unusually, both male and female) stammerers seem to have overcome their imp-p-pediment; but again, singing does often offer a temporary reprieve.

The specious connection with stammering didn’t occur to me when I first relished the quartet from the pit at the Pesaro Rossini Festival in the early 1980s. Of course, joking aside, this is an excuse to play an exquisite composition, a departure from our usual diet of Bach, Daoist ritual, and Billie Holiday.

That’s the best version I can find online. I’m sure scholars of Italian opera can discuss at length the authenticity of such a style—one might assemble a less, um, operatic vocal ensemble, but that’s just me and my knit-your-own yogurt purism for you.

4 thoughts on “Lost for words

  1. The impediment addressed in the quartet is lack of force, not lack of diction. Rossini has picked up on this detail with great subtlety, revealed by his handling of the phrase endings.

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    • Um, thanks, but a post like this doesn’t always deserve the solemn academic treatment that you award it! Rather that I love the piece, and that it has an added irony for stammerers… Oh well.

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      • Surely one can do both. (Or more.) I am of two minds about that. Surely you know about Brahms’s notebook collection of famous examples of parallel fifths, each accompanied by the comment, “But so nice”? (Surely not surly.)

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  2. Good name you chose there! You should know better than to assume that I know anything about WAM! My post is on a par with my comments on TV theme-tunes. But yes, a worthy goal might be education and entertainment together (Chairman Mao’s old puji and tigao issue)

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