Saturday, June 23, 2012

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.          

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