Sunday, July 25, 2010

Love Songs for Tu b' Av - III (Operatic)

If opera is about anything, it is love. What to choose for Tu B'Av? The only two tenors I would consider for this role are Franco Corelli and Luciano Pavarotti, for lovers are always tenors, and those two were peerless in the 20th century. Corelli is not well served on YouTube, but that hardly makes Pavarotti a second choice. In fact, I consider him the preeminent tenor of the 20th century. His seemingly limitless power, range, and clear, bell-ringing high notes probably make him the greatest tenor in history. He was a hard act to compete with, the Three Tenors notwithstanding.

Calaf's aria, Nessun Dorma ("None Shall Sleep") from Puccini's Turandot.
Nobody shall sleep!...
Nobody shall sleep!
Even you, o Princess,
in your cold room,
watch the stars,
that tremble with love and with hope.
But my secret is hidden within me,
my name no one shall know...
On your mouth I will tell it when the light shines.
And my kiss will dissolve the silence that makes you mine!...
(No one will know his name and we must, alas, die.)
Vanish, o night!
Set, stars! Set, stars!
At dawn, I will win! I will win! I will win!

At his valedictory performance at the opening of the Turin Olympics in 2006, dying from cancer, Pavarotti's voice still has its incredible power, but the ringing top is diminished, replaced by the most powerful emotions of a man aware of his mortality, saying good bye to his beloved art and audience.

Pavarotti's final performance of Nessun Dorma.

O Mio Babbino Caro ("O My Dear Papa") hardly seems the stuff of one of the most beautiful love arias ever written, not the least of which because it is sung by a daughter to her father. The lyrics themselves hardly seem to inspire the lovely melody, which comes straight down from heaven. The essence of the lyrics is, Oh my dear Papa, I love him so much that if you don't let me marry him, I'll throw myself from the bridge. Huh? And from this Puccini made sheer magic!

Translation in English
O mio babbino caro
Mi piace, è bello, bello
Vo' andare in Porta Rossa
a comperar l'anello!
Sì, sì, ci voglio andare!
e se l'amassi indarno,
andrei sul Ponte Vecchio,
ma per buttarmi in Arno!
Mi struggo e mi tormento!
O Dio, vorrei morir!
Babbo, pietà, pietà!
Babbo, pietà, pietà!
Oh my dear papa
I love him, he is handsome, handsome
I want to go to Porta Rossa
to buy the ring!
Yes, yes, I want to go there!
And if my love were in vain,
I would go to the Ponte Vecchio
and throw myself in the Arno!
I am being consumed by the torment!
Oh God, I'd like to die!
Papa, have pity, have pity!
Papa, have pity, have pity!

Here is Angela Gheorghio singing the aria from Puccini's only comedy, Gianni Schicci.


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