Queen of the Night

This forwarded by a friend: a YouTube Clip of what appears to be a Vienna choirboy, perhaps eight years old, zipping through the “Queen of the Night” aria from Mozart’s Magic Flute. (I don’t know how to import the entire thing here, as Phil does—sorry.) Scary—to me at least—the way the boy gets around all the leaps, passagework, and so on, with noticeable art-a-borning. Here’s the question, though, because I’m not a singer: is there any agreement, in terms of vocal pedagogy, about what should be done with a voice like this? How much use constitutes potentially damaging overuse? How to keep working the upper register for the boy to become a real sopranist or countertenor, while not hurting the lower registers? Is there anyone with a good track record for this kind of pedagogical assignment?

I wonder what kind of training the boy is getting now, and if the challenge is really the same as that of parenting: JUST DON’T SCREW IT UP! DO NO HARM!

The boy’s voice is a wonderful thing to hear, but just a little bit eerie too. How does one retain that vocal agility, which is so rare in mature, trained voices today? (Excluding early music singers, obviously, and certain folk styles.) I hate “time will tell” conclusions, but nothing else seems warranted. The edge-of-the-seat expectancy remains even after the clip: what happens next? A career? A flameout?

Does it please the Muses?

About jonathanbellman

Professor of Music History and Literature and Head of Academic Studies in Music at the University of Northern Colorado. Author, *The _Style Hongrois_ in the Music of Western Europe* (Northeastern University Press, 1993), *A Short Guide to Writing About Music* (2e, Longman, 2008), *Chopin's Polish Ballade: Op. 38 as Narrative of National Martyrdom* (Oxford University Press, 2010), Editor, *The Exotic in Western Music* (Northeastern University Press, 1998), author of bunches of articles and reviews and so on. Likes to play the piano, the mandolin, and even guitar sometimes. A. M. and Jo Winchester Distinguished Scholar at UNC, 2011.
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2 Responses to Queen of the Night

  1. Bodie says:

    To import, or “embed”, a YouTube video, visit the YouTube page for the video. To the right of the video, under the description, there should be a box labeled “Embed”. Just copy the contents of that box into your blog post using the html editor, and the video will show up in your blog post. Sorry if the instructions are confusing.

  2. eba says:

    I don’t think it looks like he’s having very much fun. So I say, nay, it doth not please the Muses.

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