Saturday, July 30, 2011

Madamina, il catalogo e' questo – Don Giovanni

Miss, this is the catalog 
Of all the beauties that my master has loved;
A catalog that I have made myself.
Look at it, read it with me.
In Italy 640,
In Germany 231,
100 in France, in Turkey 91,
But in Spain 1,003!
Various women – peasants
servants and city girls,
countesses, baronesses,
marchionesses, princesses,
Women of every rank,
Of every shape and age.

In the blondes, he usually
Praises their kindness
The brunettes their constancy,
The older ones their sweetness.
In the winter, he likes the chubby one,
In the summer, he likes the skinny one;
The tall ones, he calls majestic, 
The young girl is always charming ...
The older ones make a conquest
Simply for the pleasure of adding them to the list;
but his predominant passion
is the young beginner
It’s not about whether she’s rich,
Or ugly, or beautiful;
Just so long as she’s wearing a skirt,
You know what happens then!

Bryn Terfel as Leporello in Mozart's Don Giovanni.

Ferrara, 1997. Conductor: Claudio Abbado. 

Una furtiva lagrima – L’elisir d’amore

One furtive tear
In her eyes welled up…
These festive young people
She seemed to envy…
What more could I want?
She loves me, I see it.
One single instant the palpitations
Of her beautiful heart I sensed!...
With her confused sighing
Almost equaling my sighs!...
Heavens, one can die;
I can’t ask for more.

Here she is…Oh! She increases
The beauty of newborn love!
To be indifferent
One should be this way until she comes
To explain herself.

Juan Diego Florez sings una furtiva lagrima from Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore.
 Paris, 2004 

La calunnia - Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Slander is a breeze
A light air, considerably kind
That insensitive, sharp air
Lightly, sweetly
Begins to whisper
Softly softly, down low
Whistling under its breath
Flowing, buzzing,
In people’s ears
It deftly breaks in,
Making people’s heads and minds
Dazed and swollen.
Coming out of the mouth
The uproar is growing:
Gaining strength bit by bit,
Already flowing from place to place,
Seeming like thunder or a storm
In the heart of the forest,          
It’s whistling, rumbling,
And it will freeze you with horror.
When the overflows and the bursting stops,
It begins again with twice the force
Producing an explosion
Like a cannon shot,
An earthquake, a storm,
A general tumult
That makes the air reverberate. 
And the miserable wretch
Chastened, trampled
Under the public scourge
Will drop dead if he’s lucky.

Ruggero Raimondi sings Don Basilio's aria from Rossini's Barber of Seville.
Versailles, 1980.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Va, Tosca (Te Deum) - Tosca

Three guards... One carriage...
Quickly…follow her
Wherever she goes!... unseen!... be careful!

Alright! Where will we meet?

Palazzo Farnese!
Go, Tosca! Scarpia nestles in your heart!...
It’s Scarpia that
Arouses your jealousy.
There’s so much promise in your quick suspicion!
The crowd is forming into two wings.

In the name of the Lord, our God

Who made heaven and earth

Blessed be His name

From this time now and for evermore.

Two goals,
I must tend to, the leader of the rebels
And the most precious thing. Ah those victorious eyes
To see the flame
Languishing with pangs of love,
In my arms...
One to the gallows,
The other in my arms...

We praise thee, O God:
We acknowledge thee to be the Lord!

Tosca, you make me forget God!

All the earth doth worship thee:
The Father everlasting!

This is from a 1992 production in which Tosca was performed in the exact places of the libretto, in something close to real time. The orchestra was a few miles away.

With Mauro Buffoli as Spoletta (I like him, great Spoletta).

1992, Conductor: Zubin Mehta.

Non più andrai – Le nozze di Figaro

You won’t go anymore, loving butterfly,
Night and day turning around;
disturbing the rest of the lovely
You little Narcissus, Adonis of love.
You won’t have these beautiful wings anymore,
that light and gallant hat,
that crown, that brilliant air,
that feminine, rose colour,
Between warriors, in the name of Bacchus!
Grand moustache, small fortune.
Musket on his shoulder, saber at his side,
Straight neck, a frank face,
a grand helmet, or a grand turban,
so much honour, so little cash!
And instead of the fandango,
A march through the mud.
Over the mountains, through the valleys,
With snow and with sunshine,
To the music of trombones,
Of bombards, of cannons,
The thundering bombs in all
The ears are whistling.
Cherub fly to victory:
To military glory.

Bryn Terfel as Figaro in Mozart's, "The Marriage of Figaro". 
New York, 1998. Conductor: James Levine.

José van Dam in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro.
Paris, 1980. 

Che gelida manina - La Boheme

What a cold hand,
Let it warm up.
What's the use of looking?
You won’t find it in the dark.
But fortunately
It’s a full moon tonight,
And here the moon
We have nearby.

Wait, Miss
I want to say some things
Who I am, and what I do,
How I live. Would you like to hear them?

Who am I? I am a poet.
What do I do? I write.
And how do I live? I live.
In poverty, my happiness
Lavished by a great Lord,
rhymes and hymns of love.
For dreams and chimeras
And castles in the air,
I have the soul of a millionaire.
One time, from my chest
They stole all my jewels
Two thieves, with sharp eyes.
They came in with you just now,
And both my used up dreams
And my good dreams,
Quickly disappeared!
But I won't take the theft to heart
Since, since you’ve been in the room
there's hope!
Now that you know me,
You talk, eh! Come on. Who are you?
Say whatever you like!

Placido Domingo sings this famous aria from Puccini's La Boheme.
Paris, 1977.

Cortigiani, vil razza dannata - Rigoletto

Courtiers, vile, damned race,
For what price will you sell my wellbeing?
You think that gold justifies any action,
But my daughter is a priceless treasure.
Give her back to me . . . or instead, though unarmed,
Here’s this hand for you to pierce cruelly:
There’s nothing on earth that man fears
When defending the honor of his children.
That door, assassins, open it.

Ah! You all are against me!

Well then, I’ll cry, Marullo . . . sir,
You have a kind soul, a good heart,
Tell me where they have hidden her.
Is it there? . . . Is it true? . . . No answer! . . . alas! . . .
My lords . . . forgiveness, pity . . .
Give back the old man’s daughter . . .
To return her costs you nothing,
This child means the world to me.
Pity, pity, lords, pity.

Paolo Gavanelli sings the role of Rigoletto.
Paris, 1996. 

Se vuol ballare – Le nozze di Figaro

If you want to dance
Signor Contino,
The guitar
I’ll play it.
If you want to come
To my school
The somersault
I’ll teach you.
I’ll find out... but slowly,
It’s better every mystery
To conceal
I can uncover them!
The art of evading,
The art of endeavouring,
Here pricking,
There joking,
All these schemes
I’ll overthrow them.
If you want to dance
Signor Contino,
The guitar
I’ll play it.

Bryn Terfel as Figaro in Mozart's, "The Marriage of Figaro".
Metropolitan Opera, 1998. Conductor: James Levine. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

O mio babbino caro - Gianni Schicchi

O my dear sweet father,
I love him, he’s wonderful, wonderful;
I want to go to the Red Gate
to buy the ring!
Yes, yes, I want to go!
And if I've loved him in vain,
I'll go under the Old Bridge,
To throw myself into the Arno!
I fret and torment myself!
O God, I want to die!

 Father, pity, pity!...

Renata Scotto sings this famous aria from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi.
Metropolitan Opera, 1981.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Vesti la giubba - Pagliacci

Act! While I’m going mad,
I don’t know what I’m saying anymore,
Or what I’m doing!
Yet I must, force yourself!
Bah! Might you be a man?
You are Pagliaccio!

Put on the jacket,
And the powdered face.
The people pay, and they want to laugh here.
And if the harlequin flies to you Colombina,
Laugh, Pagliaccio, and everyone will applaud!
Transform the spasms and the crying into jokes
The hiccups and the pain into a smirk, Ah!

Laugh, Pagliaccio,
At your shattered love!
Laugh at the sorrow that poisons your heart!

Placido Domingo as Canio in Leoncavallo's Pagliacci.
Metropolitan Opera, 1978. Conductor: James Levine.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Non più mesta - La Cenerentola

I was born deeply troubled and crying,
Silently suffering at the core;
But by a sweet enchantment
in the flower of my youth
Like a flash
My fate will change.

No, no, no, no, wipe away your tears: 
Why do you tremble, why?
Fly to my bosom
Daughter, sister, friend 
All found in me.

No more sadness by the fire
To be warbling alone, no!
Ah it was a flash of lightning, a dream, a game
My long life of fear.

Cecilia Bartoli in Rossini's La Cenerentola.
Met, 1997

Sull'aria - Le Nozze di Figaro

On the air…
That sweet little Zephyr
This evening will be filled with joy
Little Zephyr
This evening will be filled with joy...

Beneath the pines of the grove…
Beneath the pines…
Beneath the pines of the grove...

And the rest he'll understand
Of course, of course, he'll understand it...

Little song on the air…
That sweet little Zephyr
This evening will be filled with joy
Beneath the pines of the grove.
And the rest he'll understand
Of course, of course, he'll understand it...

Cecilia Bartoli and Renee Fleming in a duet from Mozart's, "The Marriage of Figaro".

Metropolitan Opera, 1998. Conductor: James Levine.

E lucevan le stelle - Tosca

And the stars shone,
And the earth was fragrant
The garden gate creaked
And a step brushed the sand.
Fragrant, she entered,
And fell in to my arms.

O sweet kisses, o lingering caresses,
While I, quivering, unveiled her beauty.
My dream of love has vanished forever.
Time is fleeing, I die despairing!
And I have never so loved life!

See Placido Domingo in a 1992 production in which Tosca was performed in the exact places of the libretto, in something close to real time. The orchestra was a few miles away.

 1992, Conductor: Zubin Mehta