Work: West Side Story: Somewhere
About This Work
While most of the songs in West Side Story have achieved a good measure of popularity, three have become classics of the American musical theater and have been recorded separately or together numerous times: "Maria," "Tonight,"
and this one, "Somewhere." In West Side Story, "Somewhere" is sung by "A Girl" (not a character in the story), and comes after Tony confesses to Maria that he has killed her brother in a brawl. In some productions it is sung by Maria (soprano), or is fashioned into a duet and sung by both Maria and Tony (tenor).
The song features a single, long-breathed melody, paced slowly and seething with desire. It begins softly, the overall contour of the music ascending, as if its sweet tones are floating toward some heavenly place. Indeed, the lyrics tell of a utopian place of "Peace and quiet and open air...." When the melody is sung the second time it swells with a passionate sense of expectation as it rises nearly to the highest soprano ranges, then softens tenderly in a hushed but tense conclusion. In the second half of the song, the music follows much the same course, rising in the latter moments with the same passion, but closing without the soft, sweet phrases from the first half. Instead, the music here reaches a powerful climax, capturing the epic sense of hope expressed in the lyrics ("Somehow, someday, somewhere"), while also imparting a feeling of frustration in its truncated form that the hope can never be fulfilled.
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