Weekend 7-22-12: Ossia party

I’ve been watching that Met production of Figaro and while doing so I managed to annoy myself thoroughly.

You know how in Act II, in bars 115-117, and again in 130-132 of “Susanna, or via sortite” there is what they call an ossia – the Countess can either end the phrase on a C, or turn it downward to end on an E? (The phrase comes up earlier, in 51-53, but it’s lower, and ends on a G.) Interestingly enough, in the Dover score that I have, this is in Susanna’s part – but I’m fairly sure that the Countess usually sings it because sometimes when a countess takes the aforementioned ossia you hear about it. Occasionally one comes across a reaction to a performance in which the writer/commenter appears to feel that the singer has basically broken the opera by not singing that C. My official position is that I really don’t care, but the thing is now that I know it’s there, I always notice whether the singer takes that stupid ossia or not! In this production, for the record, Carol Vaness gives us the high C.

Unfortunately I don’t think I can cease to notice this without hitting myself over the head fairly hard with something heavy, so I guess I’m stuck with it. And I have probably compounded the problem by looking it up in the score: so now, if anyone stops me on the street and asks “What happens in bar 115 of ‘Susanna, or via sortite?'” Well! I will be able to explain.

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