Soprano Stephanie Corley takes us through the sparkling songs that she’ll be performing with the Orchestra of Opera North in between waltzes, marches and polkas by the Strauss family, Offenbach, Brahms and more, in our traditional New Year celebration Viennese Whirl. Join her to see out 2018 in style at Huddersfield Town Hall (29 December), Leeds Town Hall (30 December) and Hull City Hall (31 December).
Sei nicht bös (Don’t be cross)
This gorgeous, lilting waltz is taken from Carl Zeller’s operetta Der Obersteiger, which premiered in Vienna in January 1894. “It’s a great challenge and really fun to be two characters in one song”, says Stephanie. “In ‘Sei nicht bös’ I am first the proud miller girl and then the lovesick fisherman. As time gives each character a bit of (bitter) life experience the tables are turned and the miller girl realises what she really wants is the comfort of a trusted love. However, the fisherman has also realised what he wants – and it’s not her, unfortunately.”
Mein Herr Marquis (‘The Laughing Song’)
In Johann Strauss II’s operetta Die Fledermaus (The Bat), Adele the maid is wearing her mistress Rosalind’s dress and the rich Eisenstein mistakes her for Rosalind herself. Adele teases him about his confusion. “I love singing Adele’s ‘Laughing Song’, say Stephanie. “She’s so sarcastic and sparklingly witty. Operatic arias by nature are often deeply emotional and self-reflective, but here Adele is performing and playing, so a light touch and a good sense of humour is needed. This is a welcome break from rehearsing Katya Kabanova for Opera North’s next season!”
Wien, du Stadt meiner Träume (Vienna, City of my Dreams)
‘City of tears and of smiles / There I know where I am and feel at home / By day and even more by night’, wrote Rudolf Sieczynski in his romantic ode to the capital of Austria-Hungary in 1914 – just as the empire was about to fall. Another memorably melodic waltz, it was performed by the great Austrian tenor Richard Tauber in the 1935 film Heart’s Desire, and a famous recording was made by the legendary soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. It might also be familiar to some from the soundtrack of Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. “It’s quite intimidating following in the footsteps of Tauber and Schwarzkopf”, says Stephanie, “but ‘Vienna, City of my Dreams’ is such a warmly nostalgic and beautiful song I think the music will speak for itself”.
Meine Lippen, sie küssen so heiss (My lips, they kiss so hotly)
“My feet glide past / My eyes entice and glow / And I dance as if in a frenzy, for I know / My lips, they kiss so hotly” sings the passionate, headstrong Giuditta in this aria from Franz Lehár’s 1934 operetta of the same name. Returning to Opera North after singing in the company’s Kiss Me, Kate over the summer, Stephanie sees a similarity between the two characters. “Giuditta feels very familiar: like Kate, she is a very confident young lady. This is basically the cabaret Carmen of operetta.”
Before the Orchestra waltzes the old year to a close with Strauss’s magnificent ‘Blue Danube’, Stephanie will return for her final song, taken from Lehár’s earlier comic operetta The Merry Widow. Sung by the title character, it tells the folky story of a young huntsman, overcome by the beauty of a forest fairy who drives him mad with her kisses and then disappears. “It’ll be lovely to revisit ‘Vilja’ after performing the role of Hanna in The Merry Widow over 50 times with Scottish Opera and Opera North (where I attempted a northern accent for some reason)”, Stephanie says. “Lessons have been learnt and I will now sing it in its original German.”
Stephanie Corley takes the stage with the Orchestra of Opera North in Viennese Whirl at Huddersfield Town Hall (29 December), Leeds Town Hall (30 December) and Hull City Hall (31 December).