Saturday, January 3, 2009

Mean Mama's

“Mean Mama’s” permeate our culture in art, literature, music, theater, film and I belive the meanest has to be music's the Queen of the Night from the “Magic Flute.”

Edda Moser sings "Der Holle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen ("hell's vengeance boils in my heart") from Mozart's Magic Flute

Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen,
Tod und Verzweiflung flammet um mich her!
Fühlt nicht durch dich Sarastro Todesschmerzen,
So bist du meine Tochter nimmermehr.
Verstossen sei auf ewig,
Verlassen sei auf ewig,
Zertrümmert sei'n auf ewig
Alle Bande der Natur
Wenn nicht durch dich Sarastro wird erblassen!
Hört, Rachegötter, hört der Mutter Schwur!

Hell's vengeance boileth in mine heart,
Death and despair flame about me!
If Sarastro does not through thee feel the pain of death,
Then wilt thou be my daughter nevermore.
Disownéd be forever,
Forsaken be forever,
Destroyed be forever
All the bonds of nature
If you do not make Sarastro turn pale!
Hear, Gods of Vengeance, hear a mother's oath

The Bible has Herodias, who convinces her daughter Salome , to ask Herod to "Give me the head of John the Baptist on a big plate". Then there is Faye Dunaway in her role as Joan Crawford in “Mommy Dearest. Now Joan Crawford comes off as one of films great “Mean Mama‘s” (who can ever forget the “No more wire hanger” moment?).

Of course we don’t want to forget the Internet’s current “Mean Mama” who advertised "OLDS 1999 Intrigue. Totally uncool parents who obviously don't love teenage son, selling his car. Only driven for three weeks before snoopy mom who needs to get a life found booze under front seat. $3,700/offer. Call meanest mom on the planet."

But the meanest “Mean Mama” has to be the Queen of the Night form Mozart’s opera “The Magic Flute.” Her aria "Hell's vengeance boils in my heart", depicts a fit of vengeful rage, in which the Queen of the Night puts a knife into the hand of her daughter Pamina and exhorts her to assassinate Sarastro, the Queen's rival, on pain of denying and cursing Pamina if she does not comply. How would you like to be disowned forever, forsaken forever and destroyed forever by your loving Mommy? Now if you ask me that’s one mean Mama!

Besides the lyrics, which were written by Mozart’s friend Emanuel Schikaneder, the music in mean too. The aria is considered to be one of the most famous opera arias, highly memorable, fast paced and menacingly grandiose. It is widely renowned for being a demanding piece to perform well. The artistic demands of the dramatic context, a vengeful demand for murder, put a heavy demand on even the well-qualified voice.

Sung well you can’t help get the general idea that this Queen of the Night is one really mean piece of work. So let’s hear it for my nomination of music’s “Mean Mama”, the Queen of the Night!

By the way I think Edda Moser is the BEST Queen of the Nignt and has a truly "well qualified voice". On the other hand... Listen if you dare to Florence Foster Jenkins who made a good living as the "worse" opera singer ever (she said she never sang badily - oh yeah?.

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