The Countertop Chronicles

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Monday, March 29, 2004

Monday Song Lyric

Next to Caruso, Luciano Pavarotti is often considered one of the greatest tenors in opera. So, even with his well known faults (he is lazy, arrogant, a glutton, and rumored to be unable to read music) his impending retirement is big news in music circles. In honor of that retirement (set to come on his birthday, October 12, 2005) he has embarked on one last world tour, visiting the opera houses of the world that love him best. This month, he paid a found farewell to New York City's Metropolitan Opera where he revised the role of doomed painter Mario Cavaradossi, the hero of "Tosca.'

I've long thought Tosca to be Giacomo Puccini's masterpiece (though Turandot gives it a run for the money). Since its premier in January of 1900 at Rome's Teatro Costanzi Tosca has become one of the most treasured opera's, entertaining audiences again and again with its story of love, intrigue, revenge, murder and revolution. The opera centers around the jealous love between the painter Mario Cavaradossi and Tosca, the famous opera singer. When Tosca overhears Cavaradossi's discussions with Angelotti, a a long lost friend who, because of his revolutionary political ideals is in hiding, she becomes convinced that Cavaradossi is having an affair behind her back. Soon, Angelotti must run and hide once again, and in the process Cavaradossi encounters his long time foe, and rival for Tosca's love, Scarpia. Scarpia, sensing the opportunity, further feeds the flames of jealousy between Cavaradossi and Tosca. Eventually, Scarpia has Cavaradossi arrested for hiding Angelotti and soon schedules his execution, offering Cavaradossi life in exchange for Tosca becoming his lover. She agrees, Scarpia promises a staged execution with rifles firing blanks, and once Scarpia tries to embrace Tosca she stabs him with a knife, killing him. The Third Act opens at dawn on the day of the execution with Cavaradossi final thoughts for Tosca (E lucevan le stelle). Soon they reconnect and she tell Cavaradossi that the execution will be staged with the riflemen firing blanks. However, once the riflemen arrive they shoot with live rounds and Scarpia's double dealing is revealed to Tosca who soon runs from police investigating Scarpia's death to the highest platform of the castle where she challenges Scarpia in the afterlife.

In honor of this great opera, and Pavarotti's retirement, today's Song Lyric is that recollection of Tosca by Cavaradossi, one of opera's most famous arias.
E lucevan le stelle ed olezza
By Giacomo Puccini


E lucevan le stelle ed olezzava
la terra, stridea l'uscio
dell'orto, e un passo sfiorava la rena...
Entrava ella, fragrante,
mi cadea fra le braccia...

Oh, dolci baci, o languide carezze,
mentr'io fremente
le belle forme disciogliea dai veli!
Svani per sempre il sogno mio d'amore...
L'ora e fuggita...
E muoio dispertao!
E non ho amato mai tanto la vita!

english translation
And the stars shoned and the earth was perfumed.
The gate to the garden creaked
and a footstep rustled the sand to the path...
Frangrant. she entered
and fell into my arms...

Oh soft kisses, oh sweet abandon,
as I trembling
unloosed her veils and disclosed her beauty.
Oh vanished forever is that dream of love,
fled is that hour,
and desperately I die.
And never before I have loved so much!


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