If I were to specialise in a specific period for my classical singing, I'd probably pick the romantics. I especially love Schumann's songs. Last year, when I did the house concert, I sang the cycle "Frauenliebe und Leben". The music is glorious, the lyrics are, well, "of the time". There is one song purely about how adorable the guy I just saw is. It gets pretty tacky.
Anyway, I enjoyed singing it, but like all the romantic pieces, it ends tragically.
Right now, I am practising the Eichendorff cycle which has some of the most beautiful pieces ever written. Yet again, though, it is emotionally intense and mostly sombre. There are glimpses of light here and there, but the tragedy is never far away.
So today, in my singing class, we switched things up a bit and I did some Mozart. After weeks and weeks of Schumann, Mozart is like a delightful breath of fresh air. He is so playful and tongue in cheek with his music. The melodies are often deceptively simple but somehow they just work.
There is still a fair bit of longing and fainting and drama, but it is much more joyful.
The difference in the pieces I thing is more than just the period and the composer, though. I am singing Schumann songs but Mozart arias. Technically, an aria is also a song, but it comes from an Opera. It functions much more like a song from a musical would today. It is more of a monologue while a song is more of a self-contained story. The song works without context. You still "get it". With the aria, you often just don't.
For example, today I sang the Barbarina aria from Figaro. It's a young girl looking for a pin. She has lost it and is desperately searching.
Well, turns out the pin is a very important plot device. Barbarina is the messenger who was supposed to carry the pin back to a lady and she lost it.
That can make a young girl desperate.
None of that is in any way obvious from the lyrics.
In a Schumann song, the whole story is right there, in the lyrics. It's like a whole play on a mere two pages.