O bell’ alma, Concert paraphrase on Themes from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor (2004)
Commissioned by Michele Frisch and Kathy Kienzle.
Published by Falls House Press.
Recorded on Ten Thousand Lakes SC119. Bell’ Alma Duo web site
Donizetti’s opera Lucia di Lammermoor (1835) contains some of the most glorious melodies of the bel canto genre, and some of the most enchanting flute moments in all opera. In commissioning a paraphrase of highlights, flutist Michele Frisch and harpist Kathy Kienzle requested that I preserve two passages intact: the third act “Mad Scene,” a delicate and transparent weaving of Lucia’s voice with her spectral alter-ego, the flute, and the gossamer harp cadenza in Act One. My job was to go undercover, to compose more or less in bel canto style without giving myself away. I began at the end of the opera, with Edgardo’s final aria “Tu che a Dio” and its riveting hook, “bell’ alma innamorata” (my beautiful, beloved soul), which winds the tenor ever higher. I then provided such connecting material as the other excerpts—”Regnava nel silencio,” “Verrano a te” and “Ardon gl’incensi”—required.
The technical advice of Michele Frisch and Kathy Kienzle was invaluable in the tailoring process, and The Schubert Club provided generous assistance.