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The Passing Of The Italian Aria

The pupils’ recital indexes, with reasonable accuracy, the popular trend of repertory. If a few of the best or worst teachers should alone fall under observation one could easily err in his summing up, but, if the aggregate of studio programs be fairly considered, it is safe to depend upon the findings for data as to the taste and tendencies of a general repertory; this without regard to tone-culture, for it too frequently occurs that teachers who are deaf to the essential color and quality of a voice are most fortunate in their fondness for and ability to impart a difficult and brilliant repertory. It is not long since the pupils’ program would have been considered incomplete without one or more examples of the Italian aria. The stock selections have been “Una voce poco fa” from Rossini’s “II Barbiere Di Siviglia”; “Ernani involami,” Verdi; and “Ah forse lui,” from “La Traviata ” together with many others offering either greater or less exactions.

A glance at the studio programs of the present day shows a marked change in this respect. The appearance of the old style of aria is the exception rather than the rule. The question confronting us is: Is the change justifiable, and is it fortunate?

The aria is passing. Indications are that it will soon be no more. A few teachers are making commendable efforts to be in at the death, but change of taste is not to be ignored, and will not yield even to combined effort. It cannot be denied that the text and coloratura style of these showy and often beautiful examples of writing are most favorable to freedom of tone and facility, and it is to be hoped that for these reasons teachers will persist in their use as studies though they may be wanting in courage to give them the once honored place on their programs; this, indeed, may well and wisely be the ultimate fate of our old friends, the Italian arias.

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