Der Sänger - (2012)
for tenor and piano
Paul O'Neill gewidmet
Vor dem Debut soupierend saß,
Bei einer Frau, der Sänger.
Sie staunte über seinen Fraß
Und wurde immer länger.
Der Sänger auf die Bühne trat,
Schlicht, ohne sich zu rühmen.
Ein Hauch von Bier und Fleischsalat
Verlor sich in Parfümen.
Der Sänger sang das hohe C.
Der Beifall wuchs und tobte.
Die Dame in der Loge B
Stand auf und garderobte.
Der Sänger stürzte aus dem Haus
In den verschneiten Garten.
Die Dame folgte, einen Strauß
Auspackend, voll Erwarten.
Der Sänger lüpfte seinen Frack
Und duckte sich im Garten.
Es klang wie "Schlacht am Skagerrak".
Die Dame mußte warten.
Vom langen Stehn im nassen Schnee
Holt man sich Rheumatismus. –
Der Sänger mit dem hohen C
Kennt seinen Mechanismus.
4 pages, circa 3' 00"
Sitting to dine before he debuted
There sat, with a woman, the singer.
She marveled at the courses of food,
And thought he was such a humdinger.
The singer then trod up onto the stage,
Simply, with no need to boast.
The beer and meat salad he'd assuage
With cologne, or at least almost.
The singer sang his highest high C.
The applause rose up, well nigh raged.
The lady in the loge marked with a B
Rose also, racing out engaged.
The singer too rushed out the stage door,
Out into the snow-covered garden.
The lady followed, a bouquet and more
Ready enough, should something harden.
The singer raised high the hem of his coat
To stoop in that garden snow white.
Wind broke, booming like explosions afloat.
The lady had to wait in a most un-silent night.
They lingered too long in the damp wet snows,
Encouraging rheumatism's ache.
The singer of the high C's well knows
A mechanism must sometimes just break.
Rhymed paraphrase by the composer
Copyright 2012 © Gary Bachlund All international rights reserved.
The text was originally published in Ringelnatz' Flugzeuggedanken (1929) . The humorous tale was ready ripe for parody, and musical quotes from some roles Paul O'Neill has sung came to mind, most especially those with which we had worked in the last month. But beginning the spoof is a snippet broken off of -- nay, twisted away from -- Schubert's opening song of Die schöne Müllerin. The first verse ends with a bridge made from a snippet of the music which introduces Cavaradossi's first aria in Tosca, only to abruptly return to the repeat of the verse. This second verse ends with....
...a truncated excerpt from Rudolfo's well-known aria from La Bohéme, to make jolly excuse for the first of two high Cs in this setting while yet being in the 'wrong' key. Quickly after the scene's applause erupt in the tremolo in the accompaniment.
Opera citations pass by, including this short parody on Colline's "Coat Aria," in time for Ringelnatz' rhymes to turn our thoughts to the tenor lifting his coat for a purpose to be disclosed. The quote in the German text about the "Schlacht am Skagerak" is known to Brits as the Battle of Jutland, the largest, daylight naval battle of WWI between the German High Seas Fleet and the Royal Navy. Explosive, to be sure. But as we learn the fan and possible paramour of the tenor had to unceremoniously wait, a phrase from the end of the Italian singer's song in the first act of Der Rosenkavalier lingers in the musical air, but to hurry things along it clipped from the original triple into a duple meter.
Paul O’Neill has sung with the Staatsoper Berlin, Opera Australia, Opéra de Lille, Oper Graz, Halle, Bielefeld, and appeared as guest artist with the BBC Orchestra, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Hague Philharmonic, Beethoven Orchester Bonn, Berliner Philharmoniker, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, and many others around the world.
The score for Der Sänger is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.