Every summer I try to take some time to look for new or less overused songs and arias to assign my students. This summer that included discovering recently purchased anthologies of music by African American women (Margaret Bonds, Florence Price, Jacqueline Hairston) and soon will include the new (ordered and on its way) anthology of music by composers of the African Diaspora in an effort to replace the tired, and in many cases cringe-worthy “standard” English language art songs assigned to undergraduates. (For an overview of anthologies of art songs for the voice studio I recommend Madeleine Grey’s blog (https://divamum.blogspot.com/?fbclid=IwAR0R2DUXbq-LxBRhMuXznH4a23KoJKTXuabBiL2VtlayWAs9DwjaNwZcbWI).
While thinking about that, I’m reminded that I always plan on assigning more than the same seven or eight songs from the 24 Italian Songs and Arias (Now 28). In conversations about the full Parisotti three-volume anthology (from which most of the famous Schirmer volume is drawn) I realized that many people are not aware that there’s a third volume, and I had assumed that most of the ones not in the 24/28 volumes are not often assigned. But as usual, a little research revealed a very different story than what I had assumed.
Alessandro Parisotti (1853-1913) is no longer remembered except for his Arie Antiche in which he published 99 songs in three volumes. All of these songs were rarities at the time he published his arrangements of them, although now many are standards and in a few cases the operas, especially those by Handel, are regularly performed. I found a good many professional recordings on YouTube of songs not in the famous 24. (There are likely many more if I did a deeper search.) Dame Janet Baker wins the prize for having ventured well beyond the most famous pieces in these volumes, although just about every singer of note at one point sang a few of these either on recordings or in recitals preserved on video or audio recordings.
I easily found YouTube videos of every number in Volume I (although the versions of Plaisir d’amour were in French rather than Italian and rightly so). Many were by students, (NATS being online for the past few semesters means there are tons of options for those. I have only shared clips sung by famous singers. There are some real gems here and many that I like better than some of the ones too often assigned.
The same goes for Volume II. It was easy to find videos of all the songs although many were only student recordings (many of those very good). Even so, I’m sharing performances by famous singers for your enjoyment and edification.
The songs in Volume III are less well represented on YouTube, but better than I would have thought. Only one aria from this volume, “O leggiadri occhi belli” is in the 28 Songs and Arias collection. Piangerò is widely available and widely performed. There’s quite a bit of Handel in this volume as well as songs by Caccini, Traetta and Cimarosa. Many of these are more difficult than in the first two volumes but Boot Campers will know how to manage the ornaments found in these arias from their Vaccai work. I present these as a challenge (and recommend singers look through the entire collection. There is some excellent recital rep here. More than enough for a group recital like the one we did over the summer with the songs of Bellini.
Antonio Sartorio: Oh che umore stravagante https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAsEG905lnk
I trust that at least a few of these will pique interest from BCBCers. Personally I am obsessed with Rosa’s “Vado ben spesso.” I’ll be posting a video singing it soon. I really would like to hear more Traetta and Jomelli programmed. They were the leading composers of their day and don’t deserve the neglect they have suffered for 200 years. (The same can be said of most of these composers.) In addition to these I recommend some of the other collections as well. It’s easy to criticize early 20thcentury collections as anachronistic, but I find them well written for the piano and also good for teaching purposes. A more scholarly edition might be preferable for a student with great confidence who is secure enough to sing with little support from the accompaniment, but for most teachers of beginning or even intermediate voice students, that is not the case, especially those of us who teach high school students or music education majors not so experiences as solo singers. Another collection, also in three volumes, is Knud Jeppesen’s La Flora. However, since those editions are quite expensive, the public domain Parisotti remain more practical for budget-minded teachers and students.