The second act of Mozart’s The Magic Flute contains one of opera’s most beautifully wrenching expressions of despair and lament.
Pamina, the daughter of the demonic Queen of the Night, is hurt when Tamino will not speak to her. Not realizing that Tamino is bound by a vow of silence, she believes that he no longer loves her. Ach, ich fühl’s (“Ah, I can feel it”) is Pamina’s intimate, heartbroken soliloquy. It is set in G minor, perhaps Mozart’s most tragic key. Throughout the aria, the instrumental voices of the orchestra engage in a tender and intimate conversation with the vocal line. They seem to offer angelic consolation. The bassoon is the same dark, mournful voice we hear throughout the music of Tchaikovsky. The continuous “heartbeat” of the strings falters in the final bars, accompanying the lines, “If you do not feel love’s yearning, I shall find peace in death!”
This 1990 recording features the celebrated New Zealand-born lyric soprano, Kiri Te Kanawa:
- Mozart: Die Zauberflöte, K.620, Ach, ich fühl’s, Kiri Te Kanawa, Sir Neville Marriner, Academy of St Martin in the Fields Amazon
Featured Image: Kiri Te Kanawa