Massively Irritated with Schirmer Editors

I bought three Schirmer soprano aria anthologies and thought they would be a strong starting point for my collection.  The past few nights I’ve stayed up much too late to surf for inspirational clips on YouTube and follow along in my music.  How exciting to have all these pieces right at my fingertips!  Then, yesterday, I saw they cut the second section of “Durch Zärtlichkeit und Schmeicheln.”  Not cool, man.  This aria is a bit repetitive, but uncut, the whole thing is only five minutes.

Tonight, I was going over Euridice’s “Qual vita è questa mai … Che fiero momento” and realized they cut about 1/2 of the recitative as well as the B section of the aria.  Come on, really?  Isn’t the contrast between A and B the vehicle for musical and emotional complexity?  The uncut version is also less than five munites.  Five really emotionally baring minutes… how could you cut any of this?!

The editors claim the cuts are “reasonable.”  If a mob boss had me tied up and asked me to pick between being reasonable by cutting some music or getting my knees broken, I would go with being reasonable.  But what kind of pressure where these editors under?  A page limit?  Ink budget?  In an audition context there’s a good chance you won’t get through five minutes of a piece (unless you are captivatingly good), but when did these anthologies become audition editions?  I wish they’d left the music intact and unobtrusively suggested cuts for singers who felt the need to take them.  Now I have to go out and find versions of these two pieces.  Thanks, editors.

Unsatisfied Schirmer customer,


6 responses to “Massively Irritated with Schirmer Editors

  1. So here is a question… if we aren’t expected to sing the uncut version for auditions, are we expected to know the uncut version when we are cast in the role?

    I’ve been listening to “Durch Zärtlichkeit und Schmeicheln” and was starting to be convinced that there were two versions, like how some composers have been known to go back and “update” some of their previous pieces. I’ve had more than one question as I’ve taken this piece on over the last few years (off and on). I was told that the score markings, which list the rhythms differently on the last page, are not adhered to and no one ever sings them that way. However, Natalie Dessay sings them like that all the time and ornaments the whole second section… any thoughts on that?

    Sorry to burst into your blog, but I’ve been Googleing for answers on this. I’d rather not look like a novice with this piece, I’ve had it for at least 3 years and I’m starting to pick it up again for auditions.


    • Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for stopping by, and I’m glad you stumbled upon this post.

      I don’t have the two scores to compare the rhythms on, so I won’t speak to that, but it has become more and more accepted to ornament Mozart from what I’ve seen. I worked on Susanna’s Deh Vieni from Le nozze di Figaro, and it was suggested that I do a little ornamenting on the last page. This seemed so exotic and out of the box…. at least until I sat in on some rehearsals at Arizona Opera, and saw that the Susanna’s were ornamenting throughout the aria!! Durch Zärtlichkeit is busy enough that a lot of ornamenting probably isn’t necessary, but if you find some opportunities for it, try it out. It would also be a good idea to check with a coach if you work with one, and to also look up some more recent performances/recordings. Like I said, it is a fairly recent development but the research suggests that ornamentation, which was so widely understood and expected in the Baroque era, would have continued into Mozart’s days. Ultimately, if you ornament, do it with conviction and try to imbue it with motivation/emotion – ornaments that sound like mechanical vocalizes are no fun for the listener and extra work for the singer 🙂

      As for which version to learn… my teacher, who had an extensive career in Germany, said that almost no one ever sings the full version, even in productions. You can probably just stick with learning the abbreviated version and take that into auditions where shorter is generally better. Perhaps you can learn the middle section and practice the full version occasionally as a stamina exercise, just in case the conductor ever wants it.

      Hope this helped!

  2. Christie Phillips

    Ugh. I just wrote Hal Leonard about this exact same thing, same aria, and then googled and found this conversation. So frustrated. I realized excitedly that I had a second anthology with the aria but realized that it had the same cuts. The measure after the fermata is correct (as if it’s going to include the 1st missing section) in the 2nd anthology I looked at, so at first I thought I had it. Nope. Looking forward to checking out your blog, Joyce 🙂 Did you listen to Patricia Petibon sing this aria? Light, inspired and gorgeous.

    • Hi Christie! I finally felt ready to tackle this aria in earnest just last month and took it into my voice lesson right before the semester ended. Aside from the high E’s, the tessitura is what really makes this a hard aria to get through gracefully. I showed up for my lesson with the Barenreiter edition and planned on learning the aria without the “traditional” cuts, but my teacher said it wasn’t necessary to torture/tire myself out that way since almost no one does the full version… I still wish the anthology gave the full version with the cuts marked, though, if only to educate the thousands of people who pick up their edition 🙂 Patricia Petibon does sound good on it!

  3. Well, no more anthologies for me…. I think I’ll stick with whole scores from now on!

  4. Unfortunately, all too often that’s what Schirmer is known for!

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