Aria (piano version)
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Aria (piano version)
(text by Patrick White)
soprano and piano (arr. P. Mayers)
duration 9:00  © 1984 Wise Music Group
Performed by Mary Carewe and Philip Mayers on the Orchid Classics CD Serious Cabaret
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Also see: Chamber Music   Vocal  

Program Note:

The text for Aria was written by Patrick White as an experiment for a larger operatic collaboration. At this point in the libretto our protagonist, the wife of a hugely successful businessman, luxuriates under the hands of her hairdresser, Angelino, bemoaning the dreadful tribulations that seem to beset her at every turn. The work was commissioned by Flederman and written for that group with the English soprano, Jane Manning, to whom the work is dedicated. Aria was last performed by Jane Manning and Flederman at the BBC Late Night Proms Concerts in 1988.

Ah! to sink into the chair,
to feel dear Angelino's fingers
flicker through one's hair.
Life revives for wives of fashion and distinction.
Beneath the drier, in a steam of dreams,
and glimpses of one's self in glossy magazines.
No-one but Angelino could understand
the suffering of a wife of fashion and distinction.

Oh! Oh! Oh woe!
There are no frills to having a multinational mate
(except he pays for them).
I'd look a fright if it weren't for my Angelino.
After the committees, luncheons, and dinners,
the finger food by candle-light,
on top of it all a husband's hands
fing'ring, kneading, bludgeoning.
Oh No! dahling, not above the chin!
You'll wreck my hair!

Nothing will fob the monster off.
Not tears, not creams, not screams!
Consid'ring that he expects me to look pretty,
how perverse of him to martyrise my titty!

Do you think Angelino, I ought to change my image?
My persona has become a bore.
Strawb'ry makes me puke!
Shall we try a dash of ash?
... or would it ...?
No woman of fashion and distinction
can afford to ape her husband's secretary.
Do you think the bags beneath my eyes... ?
Could my face have slipp'd again?

Have them tack my bust, or I'll look a perfect sack
at the committees, luncheons, dinners,
the finger-food by candlelight,
a woman of fashion and distinction undergoes,
on top of it all, a husband!
Oh! Oh! Oh woe!

I broke a precious fingernail, opening the Mercedes door.
The Porsche keeps stalling at the intersection.
Anyone can see the Rolls isn't the vintage it ought to be.
But we mustn't complain, must we?
In these starvation times!
Oh! Oh! Oh woe!

Times may change, but not the husbands.
As Angelino knows, he knows what a woman must suffer
in the name of fashion and distinction.
Make no mistake, she pays for her meal ticket,
the bigger the bill the more she pays.

Nothing will fob the monster off!
Not tears, not creams, not screams,
Not even blood!
Oh! Oh! Oh woe!
Oh! Oh! Oh woe!

Husbands are the same.
They're off the same conveyor belt when midnight sounds.
There's no avoiding the tax
a woman of fashion and distinction
pays at the end of the day.

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