Debussy’s music altered the course of European classical music away from the exaggerated pathos of Romanticism to a new means of artistic expression that was guided by nuance and suggestion. Debussy was inspired by other Symbolist artists, particularly the work of French poet, Paul Verlaine. This class will focus on Debussy’s remarkable song cycle Ariettes oubliées (“Forgotten Songs”). The text of the song cycle is drawn from Verlaine’s Romances sans paroles (“Songs without Words”). Musicologists have remarked that the fluidity of Verlaine’s verse which moved between mysticism and sensuality fueled the sensibilities of Debussy’s haunting musical language. We will explore Verlaine’s poetry (which is stunning even in translation), listen to musical excerpts, and discuss the manner in which Debussy musically captures Verlaine’s verse. There is a lot to unpack in both Verlaine and Debussy’s work. Together we will discover new facets and greater appreciation for this masterpiece.
Annina Hsieh is a Boston-based soprano and educator. Praised for her sensitivity as a performer, Hsieh strives to connect with audiences in opera and recital settings, and was the 2019 winner of the Handel and Haydn Society’s Barbara E. Maze Award for Musical Excellence. She completed her Master of Music in Voice Performance at Cleveland Institute of Music, and her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance at Ithaca College.
As a teacher, Hsieh works with students to develop and use their natural voice to express themselves through song. Hsieh believes that, above all, lessons should be tailored to each student’s learning style and musical goals. She works with beginning and advanced students of all ages and has taught students in classical, musical theater, jazz, folk, and pop repertoire.