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Bella mia fiamma, K528

composer
3 November 1787
author of text

 
When Mozart came to Prague in 1787 for the première of Don Giovanni, he and his wife stayed with the Dušeks at Villa Betramka, their summer residence on the outskirts of the city; Mozart reportedly put the finishing touches to the opera while seated in the garden of the villa. Following the opera’s triumphant première on 29 October, the Mozarts remained in Prague for several weeks. Josefa Dušek, however, insisted that Wolfgang was not allowed to leave Betramka until he had composed a new aria for her, and she is said to have locked him in the pavilion in the villa’s garden until he had completed the work. Mozart’s son later recollected how his father “retorted that if she could not sing the song correctly and well at first sight he would not give it to her”, and this story of Mozart’s impish humour is given credence by a remarkably bold and harmonically complex passage in the aria which would have caused problems for even the most accomplished sight-reader. The manuscript of Bella mia fiamma is dated 3 November, but the speed with which it was composed belies the work’s depth and mastery.

The text is taken from Cerere placata (‘Ceres Appeased’), a ‘festa teatrale’ composed in 1772 by Niccolò Jommelli to words by Michele Sarcone. Titano is the mortal lover of the goddess Proserpina, whose mother Ceres has decreed that the pair must separate and that Titano must die. Titano here laments his fate and consoles his beloved Proserpina as he takes his final leave of her, but any sense of heroic fortitude is imbued with a profound sense of pain and anguish at his plight, a sense heightened by the pathos and chromatic intensity of Mozart’s remarkable music.

from notes by Ian Page © 2017

Recordings

Perfido!
Studio Master: SIGCD485Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

Details

No 1. Recitativo: Bella mia fiamma
Track 17 on SIGCD485 [2'39] Download only
No 2. Aria: Resta, o cara
Track 18 on SIGCD485 [6'36] Download only

Track-specific metadata

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