The magnificent trumpet aria, “Let the Bright Seraphim”, occurs at the end of Händel’s oratorio, Samson (HWV 57), and is a joyous, uplifting aria set directly after a funeral march. Interestingly, it was not the original ending to the work, and was added by Händel some twelve months after he had originally declared the work to be finished. The character of Manoah calls upon the Israelites to cease their mourning for Samson, which is followed thus by the trumpet aria. Sadly, we were not able to find a trumpeter for this performance. The trumpet part is instead written into the piano arrangement.
André George Previn (born Andreas Ludwig Priwin) was born in Berlin, Germany, but became a naturalised American citizen after moving as a young boy to Los Angeles with his Jewish Russian family to escape the Nazis. He has won four Academy Awards, ten Grammys, and is a pianist, conductor and composer. A Streetcar Named Desire is an opera composed by Previn in 1995, with the libretto by Philip Littell. It is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tennessee Williams (1947) and received its premiere at the San Francisco Opera during the 1998-99 season. The play is about a culture clash between two very strong characters: Blanche DuBois, a Southern Belle, and Stanley Kowalski, a dominating, physically and emotionally abusive man from the industrial working class. Blanche lives a life of grandeur and pretense, alluding to a life of virtue and culture, which, in reality, masks a serious alcohol problem. Blanche has arrived at the apartment of her sister, Stella Kowalski, who has a complex relationship with her husband, Stanley, based on a sexual chemistry that Blanche doesn’t understand. Stella welcomes Blanche with much apprehension, as she doesn’t think that Blanche and Stanley will get along — and she’s right. The situation worsens as Stanley discovers Blanche’s true past, and attempts to “unmask” it to her; the final collision that the two characters face is a scene in which Stanley rapes Blanche, which results in a nervous breakdown for her. In the closing moments, Blanche utters her signature line to the kindly doctor who leads her away: “Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”
There was a Serpent who had to sing.
There was. There was.
He simply gave up Serpenting.
He didn’t like his Kind of Life;
He couldn’t find a proper Wife;
He was a Serpent with a soul;
He got no Pleasure down his Hole.
And so, of course, he had to Sing,
And Sing he did, like Anything!
The Birds, they were, they were Astounded;
And various Measures Propounded
To stop the Serpent’s Awful Racket:
They bought a Drum. He wouldn’t
They sent, —you always send, —to Cuba
And got a Most Commodious Tuba;
They got a Horn, they got a Flute,
But Nothing would suit.
He said, “Look, Birds, all this is futile:
I do not like to Bang or Tootle.”
And then he cut loose with a Horrible Note
That practically split the Top of his Throat.
“You see,” he said, with a Serpent’s Leer,
“I’m Serious about my Singing Career!”
And the Woods Resounded with many a Shriek
As the Birds flew off to the end of Next Week.
Composed by Ned Rorem in 1972.
Soprano: Pamela Andrews
Pianist: Alan Hicks
Filmed and recorded in Llewellyn Hall, Canberra, by the Australian National University, November 2010, on behalf of Pamela Andrews.