Or voi composto m'avereste nella bara
Parisina is a difficult work to tackle. The following
excerpt, Or voi composto m'avereste nella bara, is a good
introduction in some respects. In particular, it illustrates
perfectly the way the verses of D'Annunzio are declaimed in
Parisina, the music closely following the rhythm of the
words. It is also a remarkable part for tenor, of which
Alessandro Dolci makes a superb rendition.
Parisina and Ugo (Scene from Act II)
Mascagni alludes to this part of the libretto in the article he
wrote in late 1913 about the composition of the opera, Come è nata
Parisina ("How Parisina was Born"). In Rome, Mascagni
read these verses to a friend, on whom they made a great
impression. They had also made an impression on Mascagni, who
knew them by heart. Mascagni explains how he composed the
" We came back home, I sat at the piano : and this phrase is
today written the way it came to me at the time. "
The scene takes place in Act II, just after Ugo defeats the
corsairs that attacked the sanctuary of Loreto, where Parisina
came to offer her devotion. He is taken care of by Parisina and
her servant, La Verde. They find with great emotion that Ugo is
bleeding. Ugo doesn't feel any pain, but the strike could have
been deadly. Parisina wonders what would have happened to her if
Ugo had not been lucky ("Or che saria di Parisina?").
This is where the excerpt sung by Ugo starts. Ugo replies that
had he died, Parisina would have put him in the bier, then on
the horse and taken him back home, in the sweetness of spring.
And from the inside of the coffin, Ugo would have never seen
Parisina again with his earthly eyes.
The thought of not being able to see Parisina again was the only
one that Ugo had in mind while fighting, and that thought
allowed him to avoid the mortal blows of the enemies. The troups
shouted "Diamond, Diamond" (the moto of the d'Este), and Ugo's
life, like a diamond (adamantine), was all in that one thought
of desiring to see Parisina again.
The first half starts very slowly ("Doloroso", =
38), which is appropriate since it describes Ugo's body being
hypothetically put in a coffin. Notice the long A flat on the
last syllable of of "accompagnato" (the score features a
rall., a sostenuto, and a tenuto): Dolci
cannot help making some noise when catching his breath after
that word. The second half is faster ("Agitato", = 50,
then "Marziale", = 46), as Ugo immerses himself again in the
thought of the battle (this announces the subsequent narration
of the battle by Ugo). The excerpt closes on a high G.
In this recording, the reduced orchestra and the poor sound
quality do not do justice to the subtelty and the power of the
orchestration. Still, it is worth trying to pay attention to the
instrumental lines underlying the vocal line, particularly in
the first part: they support and respond to the vocal line in a
way that is very typical of Parisina's orchestration.
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|"Or voi composto m'avereste nella bara"
||Ugo: Alessandro Dolci
Libretto and Translation
Both the Italian text and David Stivender's literal translation
are included below. To fully appreciate the excerpt, it is good
to get familiar with the Italian text, checking against the
English translation (for non-native Italian speakers), and then
to follow the music with the Italian text. Finally, singing
along allows to get a feel for the style and the difficulty of
this thrilling piece!
composto m'avereste nella bara,
poi, legata la cassa in sul giumento,
ricondotto laggiù per la via lunga,
accompagnato fra le dolci cose
e io, per mezzo all'assi,
per mezzo alla mia coltre, ahimè, non più
non più v'avrei veduta con questi occhi!
would have laid me on the bier,
then, the coffin tied on the beast of burden,
led back down there along the long road,
accompanied by the sweet things
and I, between the planks,
under my pall, alas, no more
would I have seen you with these eyes!
Sol tal pensiero
m'era nel cuore mentre combattevo,
e tanto erami forte che sol esso,
sol esso e non il ferro,
parava alla mia vita
ogni colpo mortale. Diamante,
gridavano le scorte, Diamante!
E tutta in un pensiero
adamantina era la vita mia.
Only this thought 1
was in my heart while I fought,
and was so strong for me that only it,
only it and not my iron,
checked every mortal blow
at my life. Diamond,
the troups shouted, Diamond!
And in one thought my life
was all diamond-like.
- Literally, "Only such a thought"