Monday, December 17, 2012

Dalla sua pace - Don Giovanni

My peace depends upon her peace;
That which pleases her gives life to me,
That which hurts her gives death to me.
If she sighs, I sigh as well;
Her wrath is mine, her cry is mine;
And I have no good, if she has none.

Luigi Alva as Don Ottavio in Mozart's Don Giovanni.

Aix, 1960.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tu che a Dio spiegasti l’ali – Lucia di Lammermoor

You who unfolded your wings to God
O beautiful, loving soul
Turn yourself back to me, satisfied;
Your faithful one ascends with you.
Ah! If the wrath of mortals
Brings such a cruel war to us,
If we are divided on earth,
May God in heaven join us.


Raimondo, Chorus
Ah! What are you doing?

I want to die, I want to die!

Raimondo, Chorus
Be sensible, be sensible!

No, no no!

What have you done?

I’m coming to you, o beautiful soul…

Wretched man!

Turn yourself back ah! To your faithful one.

Think of heaven!

Ah, if the wrath of mortals
Such a cruel war...
O beautiful soul, may God in heaven join us.
O beautiful, loving soul,
May God in heaven join us.

What horror!

O God, forgive him!

Oh awful, black fate!
God, pardon this great horror!

Jose Carreras sings the great final aria from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor.

Bregenz, 1982.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Il lacerato spirito – Simon Boccanegra

A final farewell to you,
Lofty palace,
The cold tomb of my angel!
You are not worthy to protect her!
Oh damn! Oh vile seducer!
And you, Virgin Mary, did you stand by,
While her virginal crown was taken?
Ah! What am I saying? Lunatic!
Ah, forgive me!

The wounded spirit of a sad parent
Was kept in the agony of shame and grief.
Give her, o heaven, a martyr’s garland.
Yield her to the splendour of the angels,
Pray for me, Mary.

Nicolai Ghiaurov sings the famous bass aria from Verdi's Simon Boccanegra.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

In uomini, in soldati – Cosi’ fan tutte

In men, in soldiers, you’re hoping for fidelity?
Don’t let anyone here you, for goodness’ sake!

They are all made of the same stuff,

Blowing leaves, fickle breezes

Have more constancy than men!

Lying tears, false looks

Deceptive voices, lying charms

These are their best qualities!

They love us for their own pleasure,

Then they despise us, they deny us affection,

It’s worthless asking for mercy from barbarians!

We should pay them back in the same way,

This evil, indiscreet race.

Let’s love them for comfort, for vanity!

Cecilia Bartoli as Despina in Mozart's Cosi fan tutte.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Re dell’abisso, affrettati – Un Ballo in Maschera

Quiet... you must not disturb the incantation.
The devil will be here to talk soon.

King of the Abyss, make haste,
Plunge down through the skies,
Without soaring, the lightning
Penetrates my roof.
Now three times, the hoopoe
Breathed on high;
The fire breathing salamander
Hissed three times...
And the groaning of the tombs
Spoke to me three times.

I’m going to the front!

Villain, get in the back.
Oh, how everything shines with darkness!

It’s him, it’s him! Now I feel
The palpitations again.
The pleasure to burn again
In his awful embrace!
The light of the future
He holds in his left hand.
He was pleased with my spell
He blazes once again:
Nothing, nothing more will be hidden
From my gaze!

Long live the witch!

Silence, silence!

Bulgarian contralto Mariana Pentcheva as Ulrica in Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera. Extraordinary performance! And a stunning low note at the end.

La Scala, 2001. Conductor: Riccardo Muti.

Friday, November 2, 2012

O mio Fernando - La Favorita

It is true then, oh heavens! You... Fernando 
are to be Leonora’s husband!
All this I’m told, and yet my spirit is still doubtful
of this unexpected joy! Oh God! Marry him?
Oh, what unbearable shame! As a dowry to the brave man...
I will bring him dishonor, no, never; If he should ever
abhor me, I’ll fly, he will know in a short time
This woman that he adores so.

Oh, my Fernando! Throne of the earth,
I would have given my heart to possess you,
But my pure love is like a pardon,
and yet I am damned, alas! It is a terrifying horror.

The truth shall be known, and in your extreme contempt
I will face the worst penalty possible;
If you are rightly displeased, then I will be a mockery
Strike me, great God, with your lightning.

Come, death, what is stopping you?
My pain is written in the skies,
Come, she is a festival,
An altar spread with flowers.

The grave is already opening for me;
The black veil is already covering me;
Ah! The sad bride,
damned, desperate,
She will not have forgiveness in heaven.

Fiorenza Cossotto as Leonora in Donizetti's La Favorita.

Tokyo, 1971.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Celeste Aida - Aida

If only I was
That warrior! If my dream
Would only come true!... An army of brave men
Led by me... and the victory... and the praise
Of all Memphis! And you, my sweet Aida,
To return crowned with laurels...
To say to you: I fought for you, I triumphed for you!
Heavenly Aida, divine form.
Mystical garland of light and flowers,
You are the queen of my thoughts,
You are the splendour of my life.
I want to give you back your beautiful sky,
The sweet breezes of your homeland;
To place a regal garland upon your head,
To raise up a throne for you near the sun.

Carlo Bergonzi sings Radames' first act aria from Verdi's Aida.

Tokyo, 1973.

L’elisir d’amore – Udite, udite o rustici

Listen, listen, o peasants
Don’t breathe a word of this to anyone.
I already suppose and imagine
That you know as well as I
That I am that grand,
Encyclopaedic doctor
Called Dulcamara,
Whose illustrious virtue
And infinite wonders
Are known in all the world...and in other places.
Benefactor of mankind,
Curer of ills,
In a little while I will have cleared out
And swept away the hospitals,
Selling health
And travelling the world over.
Buy it, buy it,
I’ll give it to you for a small price.
It’s this toothache medicine
Marvellous liquor,
The mighty destroyer
Of mice and bugs,
Whose certificates,
authentic and labelled,
I will allow each of you
To touch, see and read.
This is my specialty,
A lovely wonder.
A man, in his seventies
And sickly,
Yet became
The grandfather of ten babes.
Well, ten to twenty babes
he had,
Because of this touch and health
In a brief week
It did more than cease
His crying affliction.
O all of you, stiff matrons,
Do you yearn to be rejuvenated?
Your inconvenient wrinkles
Will be erased with this.
Do you want, damsels,
To have smooth skin?
You, young gallant men,
To always have lovers?
Buy my specialty,
I’ll give it to you for a small price
It moves the paralytics,
despatches apoplectics,
asthmatics, asphyxiation,
Hysteria, diabetes,
It cures tympanitis
And tuberculosis and rickets,
And even liver trouble,
Which used to be fashionable.
Buy my specialty,
I’ll give it to you for a small price.
I brought it by post
From a thousand miles away
You ask me: How much is it?
How much is that bottle worth?
100 scudi?... 30?... 20?
No...nobody shall be dismayed.
To prove to you my gladness
That I am accepted as a friend,
I want from you, O good people,
To give 1 scudo.
Here it is: stupendous,
Truly balsamic elixir
All of Europe knows that I sell
Nothing under 10 lire:
But since it is also clear
That I was born in this country,
I’ll give it to you for 3 lire,
I ask only 3 lire:
It is as clear as the sun,
That to everyone who wants it,
1 scudo, nice and neat
I’ll put in my pocket.
Ah! The sweet affection of home
Can do great miracles.

Giuseppe Taddei makes a magnificent Dulcamara in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fin ch'han dal vino – Don Giovanni

Until they have become hot-headed with wine,
Let’s prepare a grand party.
If you find a girl in the piazza,
Try to bring her here.
May the dance be wild,
Who will be the minuet, who the folia
Who will dance the allemande with you.                       
Meanwhile, I’ll be singing my own song 
Flirting with this girl and that girl.
Ah you must add to my list
About ten entries tomorrow morning

Simon Keenlyside sings the champagne aria from Mozart's Don Giovanni.

Ferrara, 1997. Conductor: Claudio Abbado.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Che farò senza Euridice? – Orfeo ed Euridice

What will I do without Euridice?
Where will I go without my love?
What will I do?
Where will I go?...
Euridice! Euridice!
O God! Answer me!
Answer me!
I am faithful yet!...
Ah! Nothing is left to me
No rescue, no hope
Not from the world, nor from the heavens!...

Dame Janet Baker sings Orfeo's tragic aria from Gluck's opera Orfeo ed Euridice.

TV recital, 1982.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Acerba Voluttà – Adriana Lecouvreur

Bitter pleasure, sweet torture,
Slow agony, quick offense,
Blaze, frost, tremor, restlessness, fear,
For the lover who waits expectantly!

Every echo, every shadow in the kindling night
Conspires against the impatient soul:
Everything is suspended between doubt and desire,
One moment is an eternity…

Will he come? Has he forgotten me? Will he hasten to me? Or will he turn back?
Here he comes!...No, it is the sound of the river,
Mixed with the sighs of a dormant tree….
O vagabond eastern star,
Do not set: smile on the universe,
And guard my love, if he does not mind the way!...

Elena Obraztsova sings the aria of Princess d'Bouillon from Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur.

Tokyo, 1980.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

O Carlo Ascolta – Don Carlo

*Includes prior recitative.

It’s me, dear Carlo.

Don Carlo
O Rodrigo, I am so grateful to you
For coming to Carlo in prison.

Dear Carlo!

Don Carlo
Well you know it! I have abandoned myself to the current!
For Isabella’s love, I torture and kill myself...
No, it’s not worth going on living!
But you can save them yet;
The Flanders are no longer oppressed.

Ah! I can see clearly your affection!
Get out of this ghastly tomb.
I am happy just because I can embrace you!
I will save you!

Don Carlo
What are you saying?

We’d better say farewell!

Don Carlo
Why do you speak of death?

Listen, time is running out,
I have already turned the tremendous lightning to me!
You are no longer the rival of the King now…
The proud agitator of the Flanders…is me!

Don Carlo
Who would believe it?

The evidence is tremendous!
Your papers were found in my possession...
The rebellion testimonies are clear
And this head already had a certain price set on it.

Don Carlo
I want to expose everything about the King.

No, you side with Flanders,
You are for the great Serbian work.
You must do it. A new golden age
You will be reborn; you must reign
And I must die for you.

Don Carlo
Heavens! Death! Whoever for?

For me!
The vendetta of the King could not delay!
Oh God!

O Carlo, listen, your mother awaits you
At San Giusto tomorrow; she knows everything...
Ah! I’m leaving the earth... dearest Carlo;
Give me your hand...!
I will die, but glad in heart,
That I could keep
Such a saviour for Spain!
Ah! ... don’t... forget... me...!

Dmitri Hvorostovsky sings Posa's two arias from the last act of Verdi's Don Carlo.

Joseph Volpe Galla, 2006.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

O don fatale – Don Carlo

O fatal gift, o cruel gift
That heaven, in its wrath, made me!
You make us so vain, so haughty,
I curse you, I curse you, o my beauty!
I can only pour out tears,
I have no hope, I will have to suffer!
My crime is truly horrible
I can never blot it out!
I curse you, I curse you, o my beauty,
O my Queen, I sacrificed you
To the foolish error of this heart.
Now only in a cloister from the world
Must I hide my grief!
Alas! Alas! O my Queen,
Oh heavens! Carlo! Going to his death tomorrow,
Great God! I will see him go to his death!
Ah, only one day remaining, hope smiles on me,
Ah, blessed be the heavens! I will save him!

Olga Borodina as Princess Eboli in Verdi's Don Carlo. Apologies for the black and white and blurry image.

Mia madre aveva una povera ancella - Otello

He seemed so to me.                                                    
He bid me get into bed and await him. 
Emilia, I pray you,                                            
Lay out my spotless wedding garment
On my bed.                                                     
Listen! If I must die before you              
Bury me with one of those veils.                       
I am so desperately wretched.                                      

My mother had a poor servant girl                   
She was beautiful and in love
Her name was Barbara;
She loved a man but he abandoned her,
She sang a song;
The song of the willow.                                     
Take down my hair.                                         
This evening I have haunting memories 
Of that lullaby.                                    

"She wept, singing in the lonely heath                 
The sad girl wept.                                            
O Willow! Willow!  Willow!                                          
She sat bowing her head on her breast!                       
Willow! Willow! Willow!
Let’s sing! Let’s sing!                                          
The willow shall be my funeral garland."           

Hurry; Othello will be here soon.                      

"The streams flowed between the flowering banks               
She lamented that broken heart,                           
And the heart flowed out, from the eyes        
The bitter wave of tears,                           
Willow! Willow!  Willow!
Let’s sing! Let’s sing!                                          
The willow shall be my funeral garland."           

"The birds flew down from the dark branches            
Towards that sweet song.                                 
And her eyes wept so bitterly
That even the rocks were moved to pity."                                             

Put on this ring.                                    
Poor Barbara!                                                  
She would end her story with this simple line:    

"He was born for his own glory, I for love."

Listen. I hear a lament. Be quiet.                       
Who knocks on the door?                                

"I to love him and to die                                   
Let’s sing! Let’s sing!                                          
Willow! Willow! Willow!”

Emilia, farewell.                                                
How my eyes burn!                                          
It presages weeping.
Ah! Emilia, Emilia, farewell!

Barbara Frittoli as Desdemona in Verdi's Otello.

Florence, 2003. Conductor: Zubin Mehta.          

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Largo al factotum – Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Make way for the city’s factotum.
Make way! La la la la la la la LA!
Early to his shop, it’s already dawn.
Early! La la la la la la la LA!
Ah, what a beautiful life, what a lovely pleasure
for an excellent barber!

Ah, bravo Figaro!
Bravo, well done!
Bravo! La la la la la la la LA!
Truly a most fortunate man!

Ready to do everything, night and day
Always moving about.
It’s the best abundance for a barber,
A more noble life, no, it cannot be found.
La la la la la la la la la la la la la!

Razors and combs
Pointers and scissors,
at my command
Everything is here.

Here are the tools,
Then, the trade
with the ladies, with the gentlemen.

Everyone asks for me, everyone wants me,
women, guys, elderly, young girls:
Here is the wig, there is a beard.
Here a leech, there a ticket.

Alas, what a fury!
Alas, what a crowd!
One at a time,

Figaro! I’m here.
Hey, Figaro! I’m here.

Figaro here, Figaro there…
Figaro up, Figaro down…

Swift, I’m as quick as the lightning:
I am the city’s jack of all trades.

Ah, bravo Figaro! Bravo, very good;
Fortune will not fail you.

Tito Gobbi as Figaro in Rossini's Barber of Seville.

Film 1946.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Ah, per sempre – I puritani

Ah, I’ve lost you forever,
My flower of love, oh my hope;
Ah! The life ahead of me
Will be full of sorrow!
When I wandered for years and years
Under the power of misfortune,
I defied grief and disaster
In the hope of your love.

Lovely, blessed dream,
Of peace and contentment,
Change my fate,
Or change my heart.
Oh! What a torment
On the day of my grief,
The sweet memory
Of a tender love.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky sings an aria from Bellini's I Puritani.

Moscow, 1991.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Vissi d'arte - Tosca

I lived for art, I lived for love,
I never hurt a living soul!
With a secretive hand
I helped every misfortunate soul I encountered.
With sincere faith
My prayer always
Ascended to the holy shrines.
With sincere faith
I always gave flowers on the altar.
In the hour of pain
Why, why, Lord,
Why do you reward me like this?
I gave jewels for Madonna’s mantle,
And I gave a song to the stars, to the heavens,
that smiled full of beauty.
In the hour of grief
Why, why, Lord,
Ah, why do you reward me like this?

Mezzo Elena Obraztsova sings the soprano aria, "vissi d'arte" from Puccini's Tosca.

Tokyo, 1980.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sono andati? - La Boheme

Are they gone? I was pretending to sleep
So I could be alone with you
I have so many things that I want to say to you
Or just one, but it’s as big as the sea
As deep and infinite as the sea
You are my love and my whole life ...

Ah, Mimì, my beautiful Mimì!

Am I still beautiful?

As beautiful as the dawn.

You made the wrong comparison.
You meant: as beautiful as a sunset.
"They call me Mimì,
They call me Mimì
I don’t know why."

He returned the swallow and the chirps to the nest.

My bonnet, my bonnet!
Ah! Do you remember when
I came here, that first time, there?

I remember it!

The light had gone out…

You were so upset!
And then you lost the key.

You were looking so hard for it.

Looking and looking.

My dear sir,
I can tell you now:
You found it very quickly.

I was helping destiny.

It was dark and you could not see me blushing
"What a cold little hand
If you warm it up!..."
It was dark and you took my hand.

Placido Domingo and Mirella Freni in the final act of Puccini's La Boheme.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hai già vinta la causa – Nozze di Figaro

You’ve already won the case! What’s this I hear!
What snare have I fallen into? Miscreants! I want to…
To punish you please myself
the sentence will be...But if he should pay
the old pretender?
Pay her! In what manner! And then there’s Antonio,
Who refuses to give that unknown Figaro
his niece in marriage.
Cultivating the pride
of this idiot...
It’s all profitable for a scam... the deed is done.

Will I see, while I sigh,
one of my servants happy!
And the good that I desire in vain,
shall he have it?
Will the hand of love
Be united to a vile object
The same woman who awakened love in me
But did not have love for me?
Ah no, leave it alone,
I don’t want this happiness,
You were not born, audacious man,
to torment me,
or perhaps yet to laugh
At my unhappiness.
My only hope now
is my vendetta.
It consoles my spirit,
and makes me rejoice.

Simon Keenlyside sings the Count's aria from Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro.

Vienna, 2001. Conductor: Riccardo Muti.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mamma, quel vino è generoso – Cavalleria Rusticana

Mother, Mother!
That wine is ample, and of course
I have drunk
Too many glasses today.
I’m going out in the open.
But first I want  
You to bless me
Like the day
When I left to be a soldier.

And then, mother, listen ...
If I should not return,
You must be
A mother to Santa,
Whom I have sworn
To lead to the altar.
You must be
A mother to Santa
If I should not return.

Oh, never mind!
It’s the wine talking!
The wine suggested it!
Pray to God for me!
A kiss, a kiss, mother!
One more kiss, farewell!
If I should not return,
Be a mother to Santa.
One kiss, mother, farewell!

Placido Domingo as Turridu sings 'Mamma, quel vino e generoso' from Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana.

Tokyo, 1976.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Il balen del suo sorriso – Il Trovatore

The flashing of her smile
Outshines a star!
The splendour of her lovely face
Infuses new courage in me!...
Ah! love, enflaming love
Speak to her in my favour!
May the light of her gaze chase away
The tempest of my heart.
What a sound!... Oh heavens...

Leo Nucci sings the great baritone aria from Verdi's Il Trovatore.

La Scala, 2001. Conductor: Riccardo Muti.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Il Grande Inquisitor - Don Carlo

The Count of Lerma
The Grand Inquisitor!

Am I before the king...?

Yes; I summoned you, my father!
I am in doubt,
Carlo has filled my heart
with a bitter sadness.
The child is rebelling against me,
Arming himself against his own father.

What method of punishment will you choose?

Extreme measures.

Tell me.

That he would escape... that he would be executed...


If I send my son to his death,
Will you absolve me?

The peace of the empire is worth one rebel.

Can I sacrifice my own son for the world
Me, a Christian?

God sacrificed His Son to redeem us.

But can you enforce a law that harsh?

The same harshness is everywhere,
if it was there on Calvary.

Could nature
And love keep silent in me?

All must be silent to exalt the faith.

Very well.

Does the king have nothing more to ask me?


Well then, I will speak with you, Sire.
Heresy has never ruled Spain,
But there is a man who wishes to undermine
the divine structure;
The king’s friend, his faithful companion,
The demon tempter who leads him to ruin.
Carlo’s betrayal has angered you
But that is a silly game by comparison.
And I, the Inquisitor,
I have often raised
My mighty hand above hordes of vile criminals,
For the great men of this world, should I forget my faith,
And quietly let a great rebel go free...
even for the king?

To pass through the sorrows in which we live
I searched in vain within my Court
But I have found what I longed for,
A man! A loyal heart! I have found him!

Why do you need a man?
Why do you hold the title of king,
Sire, if there is an equal for you?

That’s enough, priest!

The innovator’s ideas have taken root in you!
With your weak hand, you want to break the tare
Of the holy yolk, extended above the Roman orb...!
Return to your duty;
The church for the man who hopes,
for the man who repents,
Can offer a full pardon;
I ask you for Posa.

No, never!

O King, if I weren’t here with you in this secret meeting
This very day, I swear before God,
Tomorrow you would be brought to the Grand Inquisitor
At the supreme tribunal.

I have suffered your harsh words long enough!

Why are you evoking the ghost of Samuel?
Henceforth I have given two royals
The reign of your kingdom...!
You want to destroy all that work, madman!
Why am I here?
What does the king want from me?

(To leave)

My father, let there be peace between us yet.


You must forget what has passed.



So the throne
must always bow to the altar!

Jerome Hines as the Grand Inquisitor and Paul Plishka as King Phillip in Verdi's Don Carlo.

Met, 1980. Conductor: James Levine.