Welcome to the official Singerreise webpage! Join in the discussion as we talk about the life of an opera singer, and as we learn about Schubert's masterpiece Winterreise.

Entertain, Educate, Encourage

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Winterreise, No. 19, Täuschung (059)

Welcome to January in 2018! There's a couple of things that happened since the previous Episode, so let me get you all up to speed.

First, if you haven't seen it that previous Episode yet, make sure to go back and see it. It was on the Wexford Carol, and has been one of the more popular episodes!

The most obvious change is a few equipment upgrades! These were Christmas presents to Singerreise. There's finally some new lighting. This has been a huge issue. There's not a lot of natural light to go around, particularly in these Seattle winter months. Our music studio gets very dark.

Singerreise also got a brand new camera! I should be more in focus from here on, thanks to some generous gifting by Singerreise fans. Do bear with me, though, as I try to figure out the new settings. It has already caused innumerable delays...

All this new equipment, of course, more than doubles my setup and teardown time for filming. It adds a tone of time to the editing process as well, but the upgrade in video quality should be pretty noticeable.

The other major announcement is that Singerreise just reached its second funding goal on Patreon! Now that we've passed $150, I can engage a professional website developer to revamp the Singerreise.com website!

This means that I can get away from the free "blogger" website that I've been using thus far, with its numerous bugs and very limited templates. And soon I may be able to launch that Singerreise store like I've been intending to do. If Singerreise can bring in a little more income, I can continue carving time out of my weeks to keep it going!

The next funding goal on Patreon is $250 per month. We're already pretty close to it, so if you've been meaning to be more generous to artists in the new year, now's a great chance! I'm pretty active on Patreon, so take a look at what's been happening there. The website is Patreon.com/singerreise. While you're there, please consider becoming a patron.

Okay, enough with the announcements. It's time to get back into the swing of things, and that means getting back to Winterreise. It is winter, after all!

We're now into the last quarter of Winterreise, today covering number 19 in Schubert's song cycle. This one is entitled "Täuschung," meaning "Illusion." The title is a bit of a spoiler, though - sorry about that.

At the start, it looks like our friend the Irrlicht is back. Irrlicht is a will-o'-the-wisp, and it was the main topic of discussion in song number 9, titled - crazily enough - "Irrlicht."

That song was a ghost story, with the Wanderer following a ghostly light every which way, into the deepest crevices and eventually into the grave. It's a pretty fantastical journey, and you can see it for yourself in Episode 18. Just tap "Irrlicht Singerreise" into YouTube and you should be able to find it.
Here in Täuschung, however, that little light is far more inviting and playful. It's dancing before the Wanderer, and he follows it rather cheerfully.

The music, for the most part, follows the playfulness of the light. It's in a jaunty 6/8 time, and it sounds like a dance. In the well-lit sections of the piece, the vocal line has some ornamentation in it. Schubert uses both the acciaccatura and the appoggiatura, for those of you who have done your Vaccai homework.

Those little bonus notes do make it a bit on the tricky side. It limits exactly how fast this piece can go. It also can't be sung heavily - it has to have a weightless feeling to it. After all, we're talking about a light, a thing without substance.

Following the light seems far more pleasant to the Wanderer than staying in his current position. He calls his own existence elend, meaning pathetic or wretched. Naturally, at this point in the text, the music switches to minor, and the ornamentation goes away.

Sidenote: There's a thing in the piano that I can't quite figure out. The entire right hand - seriously everything but the last chord, is all in unison octaves. I have no idea what this means, and so I welcome your comments here. I do know that it is pretty nasty to an accompanist to keep it stretched out like that, and it limited the amount of rehearsal time we could spend on the piece.

Choosing between staying put and following the light is easy. The Wanderer knows that the light is only a ruse, but, hey, it's a colorful ruse - der bunten List.

However, it leads him through some pretty dark places, through the ice, night, and fear, or Eis und Nacht und Graus. I love that because German capitalizes all of the nouns (and because these are all single syllable words), this phrase takes on a character of its own.

It's as if these three were just pounding the same message into the Wanderer over, and over, and over again - Eis und Nacht und Graus, Eis und Nacht und Graus, repeat after me: Eis und Nacht und Graus. All day every day, the same ol' thing. And there's not even an Oxford comma to break up the monotony!

Past these, the light shows him a bright, warm house. I like to think that all this time, perhaps it was a flickering fireplace that he was finding. Maybe its reflection had been playing out in many colors against the sheets of ice.

And by that fireplace? A loving soul - eine liebe Seele.

That's when the Wanderer knows for certain he's been had. A loving soul? That can't be real, not for our Wanderer.

The jig is up. He thought he might just win this time, but, no! The only time he ever wins is when it is an illusion, a Täuschung.

Enjoy the presentation!

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