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Hin und wieder fliegen die Pfeile, D239 No 3

first published in 1893; arietta of Lucinde from Claudine von Villa Bella
author of text

Goethe fashioned the text for Claudine von Villa Bella (1775) especially for music, subtitling it Ein Singspiel in 1788. A number of the poet's friends and contemporaries attempted its composition without conspicuous success. The libretto (the plot is set in medieval Sicily) is rather a complicated story told in simple verses. Claudine is the daughter of Alonzo, Lord of Villa Bella, and Lucinde is her cousin. Lucinde is the object of the affection of the disinherited Carlos von Castellvecchio, alias Crugantino, a leader of a group of Sicilian bandits. Claudine is engaged to Pedro, the brother of Carlos, but being of a somewhat flighty disposition (she admits she finds love 'auf allen Wegen') falls in love with Crugantino. The plot, perhaps suggested by another mix-up in Mediterranean setting, Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors, is a typical one of mistaken identities and disguises.

The fact that Schubert 's operatic career was shadowed by an unhappy star is proven by the case of Claudine von Villa Bella. Unlike his other operas, the libretto is by a great poet, and it may well have been his most accessible and performed Singspiel, rivalling Die Verschworenen in that respect. Unfortunately only one act survives, and this is because of an unforgivable accident in the house of Josef Hüttenbrenner, brother of the composer Anselm Hüttenbrenner and one of the strängest men in the Schubert circle. Many years after Schubert's death, and a number of years after the accident, Josef claimed that Acts II and III of the opera's manuscript, which was known to be in his possession, were used by a household servant to kindle a fire. This incident is even more bizarre because we know that Josef was definitely unhappy, even bitter, about the burgeoning of Schubert's posthumous fame in comparison with Anselm's fading reputation. The eight orchestrated numbers in Act I that have survived (plus tantalising copies of the voice part alone of Numbers 9 and 10 from Act II) are delectably delicate and concise. Two numbers found their way into Friedländer's édition for the publishing house of Peters, and they are included on this disc because of their familiarity to generations of Lieder singers. Lucinde's aria, as stender and elegant as the golden bow, as light as love's arrows, is scored for strings alone with touches of pizzicato (it is immediately obvious to an eye used to Schubertian texture that the master did not arrange these piano accompaniments himself) and Claudine's aria has the more racy addition of oboe and bassoon.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1990


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