Classical singers, what is a good "my first lieder' book for mezzos?
May 17, 2020 3:05 PM   Subscribe

We're not sure when we'll get to be in choirs again, so I'd like a book to work through for possible audition pieces. I would prefer German as it's my best language, but I will take other suggestions for standards.

I sing in a couple classical choirs. This past year I did the Mozart and Verdi requiems and the Ode to Joy. I have always been a nervous auditioner and I don't have any solid German solo pieces, which I'd like to fix because German is my best language. The last audition I did, I used "Come raggio di sol" which was a warmup one of my choirs used.

I am a lowish mezzo and while I can sing above F5 I'd like to keep audition pieces no higher than that, because I get nervous above that. I've heard that the Schubert lieder, I think, are a good standard starting place but I would like specific book recs to work through on my own during the pandemic.

I am definitely interested in German recs mostly, but Italian or English standards I would also consider.

posted by nakedmolerats to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I mean there's always the standard 24 Italian Songs and Arias of the 17th & 18th centuries (so lovingly once referred to by an opera singer as 24 Italian Songs we hate to sing). Most voice teachers tend to start people on those as the book is easy to find and the pieces provide opportunity to work a variety of technique. I'm a mezzo and while I have the medium high voice from my voice lessons at a young age, I prefer the medium low edition.

The First Book of Mezzo Solos has some nice selections in English and German.

And Brahms 15 selections is a good place to start for beginning lieder.
posted by donut_princess at 3:27 PM on May 17

Ooh also Standard Vocal Literature has Der Tod und das Madchen which I really enjoyed. It's great for a lowish mezzo and is a really excellent short piece that can leave an awesome impression because it's super dramatic.
posted by donut_princess at 3:31 PM on May 17

For that Brahms one, would I get the low voice as a mezzo?
posted by nakedmolerats at 3:40 PM on May 17

Sorry, one more. Hal Leonard does have a Schubert 15 selections book. Just don't use Die Forelle as an audition piece. Auf dem Wasser zu singen is much better
posted by donut_princess at 3:40 PM on May 17

And yes definitely get low voice for all of the above
posted by donut_princess at 3:41 PM on May 17

Hi. Fellow low-ish mezzo here.

Schubert songs are amazing. Often their simplicity is deceptive: they're harder than they look because they're so exposed. Peters volume 1 has the two big cycles and a lot of good selected songs. Or, if you click "transpositions" on his IMSLP page, there are 2 older Peters volumes for low voice there.

Starter songs:
Lachen und Weinen - short, introspective
Die Forelle - the Trout! Bouncy, folky
An die Musik - honest and beautiful
Der Lindenbaum - from the Winterreise; each verse has a change of mood
Litanei - melancholy, meditative, serene. I sing it to come to terms with tragedy.

Brahms LOVES us low mezzos. He had a long working relationship with a baritone which means he wrote a lot of great songs for low voice. Schirmer 50 songs for low voice (has annoying, inaccurate English translations) or Peters Vol 1 für tiefe Stimme works great.

Starter songs:
Sonntag - medium tempo, cheerful
Sapphische Ode - slow, low, sexy
Wiegenlied - the Lullaby, long graceful phrases
Vergebliches Ständchen - comedy

Schumann: a lot of starter Lieder singers look at Frauenliebe und Leben as their first cycle. Again, Peters vol I has the goods. Apart from that cycle, have a look at Widmung and Du bist wie eine Blume.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:56 PM on May 17 [3 favorites]

(I've got the Peters Schubert volume 1 in middle voice, and their Brahms volumes for low voice. It all depends on what suits you best.)
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:57 PM on May 17

And for translations, the LiederNet archive is a great resource. There's also a book called Lieder Line By Line which is the standard for translations.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:59 PM on May 17

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