Le nozze di Figaro, Susanna's aria (Giunse alfin il momento)
In this masterclass, Maarten Koningsberger discusses breathing and phrasing in Susanna’s aria “Giunse alfin il memento” from The Marriage of Figaro. He works with the student to use breathing above all else to control her singing. They focus on learning how to take proper breaths, how to anticipate the next phrase, and allow the voice to be naturally open and resonant, rather than forced and overly controlled.
Moreover, he helps her feel the continuation of her breath so that she can sustain through phrases and avoid accenting leaps up to high notes. Koningsberger works with the student to also sing like she would speak. The singer must use clear diction and vowel shapes, sing with direction toward points of emphasis, and also reflect the meaning of the text. In this scene, there is a sense of anticipation which the audience must feel; therefore, the student must be relaxed in the body but not so much so that the tempo starts to slow down. Finally, they work toward achieving a sense of center and internal stability.
Taking effective breaths in and continuing the breath through phrases.
Sing as if speaking.
Avoid accenting high notes.
Anticipating the next phrase.
Staying in the center internally, rather than trying to sing outwardly.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s 1786 opera Le nozze di Figaro is one of his greatest contributions to music; it remains one of the most frequently programmed operas across the world and is considered by audiences and singers alike to be one of the best operas ever written. Though Mozart was German, he wrote several Italian operas, including Figaro. The libretto was written by Lorenzo Da Ponte, with whom Mozart continued to collaborate to produce other successful operas, such as Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte. Le nozze di Figaro is a comedic opera that continues the story of characters taken from Rossini’s popular opera The Barber of Seville. It takes place over four acts, though the entire plot revolves around a single day: the wedding day of Figaro and Susanna, two servants who work for Count Almaviva. Susanna admits to Figaro that Almaviva is interested in a romantic tryst with her prior to the wedding, which Figaro devises a plan to avoid. After informing Almaviva’s wife, the Countess, Susanna writes a note to the count requesting a meeting between them. However, instead of showing up herself, she sends a young male page dressed in women’s clothes. Unfortunately, their plan is foiled. Adding to the stress of the day, an older woman named Marcellina and her lawyer Bartolo arrive to collect a debt from Figaro. If he cannot pay the debt, he must marry Marcellina instead. Soon after, it is revealed that Figaro is actually the long-lost son of Marcellina and Bartolo, which allows the debt to be forgiven and his plans to marry Susanna to proceed. But the Count has not given up on pursuing Susanna. Exasperated, the Countess disguises herself as Susanna and goes to meet her husband to gain proof of his infidelity. The Count is shocked to discover his wife in Susanna’s place, but eventually apologizes. The Countess forgives him, and after a chaotic day, all is well. The opera’s music is celebrated for many reasons, including several incredible arias. The overture is also frequently performed as a stand-alone concert work, and the finale to Act 2 is known for its complexity and scope, involving a large number of characters.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this masterclass for voice. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Maarten Koningsberger's feedback and comments.
Maarten Koningsberger taught at the Amsterdam Conservatory of Music, the Conservatoire National Supérier de Musique et de Danse de Paris and the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles and is regularly invited for jury’s and masterclasses.
Dutch baritone Maarten Koningsberger musical interests include early music, opera, oratorio, romantic song, and contemporary repertoire. This diversity of styles is reflected in his concert and recital programs, and have brought him to concer thalls and festivals all over the world (Wigmore Hall London, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Carnegie Hall New York, Staatsoper Berlin, Theater an der Wien, Philharmonie München, Cité de la Musique Paris, Beijing Concert Hall, Baxter Hall Cape Town, and more).
He sings with orchestra’s such as Les Arts Florissants, the Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Academy of Ancient Music, der Akademie Alte Music Berlin, Tafelmusik Toronto, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and the Singapore Philharmonic. He has performed with conductors such as William Christie, Jeffrey Tate, Gustav Leonhardt, Mark Minkowski, Ton Koopman, Richard Egarr Gennady Roshdenstvenski, René Jacobs, Jan Willem de Vriend, Marin Alsop, Jaap van Zweden, and Christophe Rousset.
Maarten Koningsberger has taught singing at the Amsterdam Conservatory of Music, the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris (France), and the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles (France). He is regularly invited to lead masterclasses and participate in juries all over the world.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a great child prodigy of Western music and one of the most important musicians of Classicism. He wrote more than six hundred compositions and single-handedly developed and popularized the piano concerto. He was widely recognized during his lifetime, and is still regarded as the most universal composer in the history of classical music.
Born in 1756 to Anna Maria and Leopold Mozart in Salzburg, Austria, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s musical talents were recognized at an early age. By age four, the young prodigy began playing the harpsichord, and by five-years old he was composing pieces. The Mozart family would make several trips throughout Europe to exhibit the young boy and his sister’s sensational virtuosity with the harpsichord and violin.
In later years, Mozart would enjoy a flourishing career in Vienna. He frequently performed as a pianist and was regarded as the most outstanding keyboard player in the city. In addition to his career as a performer, Mozart established himself as a fine composer. In 1782, he wrote the opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail, which was very successful. Other renowned operas written by the rising composer included Le Nozze de Figaro (1786), Don Giovanni (1787), and Cósi fan Tutte (1790).
The death of his father in 1787 may have marked the decline of Mozart’s career. He composed very few works, suffered many financial problems, and in 1791 during a visit in Prague for the premier of his opera La clemenza di Tito, Mozart became very ill. In his final days, Mozart was preoccupied with completing his final oeuvre : Requiem in D Minor, K. 626. Unfortunately, he was unable to complete this piece (it was later finished by his student Franz Xaver Süssmayr) as he passed away on December 5th, 1791 possibly of rheumatic fever, however the official cause is unknown.
Despite Mozart’s tragic early demise, the brilliant instrumentalist and composer left an unparalleled legacy. He was a gifted composer all around and wrote in every major genre including but not limited to symphonies, operas, solo concertos, sonatas, masses and more. His influence is wide and profound, and his music continues to be recognized and celebrated for its ingenuity.