Fedora Alemán – Bishop: Lo! Here the Gentle Lark, 1968

THE SONGBIRD: Fedora Alemán (1912 – 2018) lived to be 105 years old. Born in Caracas, Alemán began to play the piano as a child and then studied voice as a teenager in Venezuela before training in New York under Fausto Cleva. She made her operatic debut in “La serva padrona.” Other operatic roles included Susanna, Fiordiligi, Norina, Violetta, Gilda, Leila, Rosina, and Lucy in “The Telephone.” In the 1950s, she began specializing in concerts and recitals, performing all across Europe and Latin America with an emphasis on programming Latin American and Spanish art songs.

THE MUSIC: Sir Henry Bishop composed this coloratura bird song for a musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” in 1819. A dozen or so Bishop’s songs, duets, and glees were sprinkled throughout the plot, all drawing on lyrics from songs in other Shakespeare plays. “Lo, here the gentle lark” is extracted from the long poem “Venus and Adonus.” Along with “Under the Greenwood Tree” and “Home Sweet Home,” it remains one of Bishop’s only well known compositions, although he penned over 120 works, including 80 operas, musicals, cantatas, and ballets.

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