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  • Sabrina Zimmerman

My Love/Hate Relationship with Mozart

Updated: Jan 21

Oh, Mozart! You've given the world so much beautiful music, you were such an unparalleled genius that genuinely understood the limits and potential of the human voice. You were also a vocal sadist and as I am practicing the aria portion of "Non piu di fiori, I can hear you laughing hysterically at my pain and frustration from your grave!

For those of you who aren't singers and don't understand how incredibly difficult singing Mozart is (especially as a soprano), let me paint this picture - it's like running a marathon blindfolded while hopping on one leg and patting your head and stomach at the same time in opposite directions and praying you don't trip or run into anything. Good times!

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love singing his music - in fact, he's my all-time favorite composer to sing period! So why do I submit myself to the torture? Well, for starters, his music is just beautiful. Mozart, for all his sadism, really knew how to compose for the voice in such a way as to bring out the best in our instrument. He particularly loved the soprano voice so all of the most beautiful (and therefore the most challenging) vocal works seem to be written for that voice type.

Secondly, because his music is very challenging, and I love a good challenge! International opera singer (and fellow soprano), Lisette Oropesa told us in one of her masterclasses that "the mark of a good singer is how well they sing Mozart". That comment has always stayed with me. And it's been the fuel for me to prove to myself and everyone that I can sing Mozart well (and that I am a good singer - that's mostly for myself).

And don't be fooled by how straightforward or structured his music is into thinking that's easy and that I'm just being overly dramatic. It's because it's so straightforward and structured that makes it difficult! You have nowhere to hide your mistakes - they will be noticeable! It's not like other styles where you can add all kinds of bells and whistles and take liberties here and there (except in some cases like a cadenza), oh no. You sing what's written in the rhythm that's written and your technique needs to be on its game.

He also really seemed to delight in putting us sopranos through the vocal ringer - one minute you're happily singing in the attic, all comfy and cozy and then out of nowhere he throws you into the basement! And then up on the roof you go, then back down. Hilarious, Amadeus, just hilarious! You were such a f*cking comedian!

In all honesty, as much as I am complaining right now, I truly do enjoy singing his music, tortuous vocal lines, and all. Despite the difficulty, there's a catharsis I experience when I am singing his music - and ever since the pandemic, I've needed that emotional release more often than not. Maybe in his crazy genius, Mozart knew his music would be good for our souls too?

Even though I am struggling with some parts of this aria, I'm not giving up on it. And I'm never giving up on Mozart or his music.

What are your thoughts on Mozart and his vocal music?

Until next time,

Sing on!

Brie xo

If you'd like to learn how to sing (or even use music as part of your self-care practice), you can sign up for a free voice lesson consult and we can chat about your goals!

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