I love this part...oh &#$*

I love this part...oh &#$*

Jenna Simeonov

Let me share what I think is a common source of frustration for pianists learning operas. You’re playing along (sight-reading like a pro), maybe missing a few notes here and there, but getting the general sound of the show, and you get to that really famous part in that opera. Like, “Ride of the Valkyries”/“Largo al factotum”/“Toreador Song” famous. For example, I got caught in the augmented-triad trap and the modes-not-scales trap recently with that tricky beauty, Madama Butterfly. And you realize it’s sort of harder to play than you expected (especially the Valkyries bit, eep). You’re in a wonky key (why didn’t you know it was in that key?), and there are more notes than you remember hearing. Or it’s jumpy, and you keep missing the bass note. (cough anvilchorus) And this is generally the status quo when you’re sight-reading through a new piece. But it’s so frustrating when it’s a famous bit. Am I right? That scene in Il barbiere di Siviglia, anyone? “Ride of the Valkyries” for scale:

Pianists, what famous parts from operas get your fingers in a twist? Let us know in the comments below!


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