Friday, June 24, 2011

Pavarotti: La Traviata's Brindisi

This is from the 1993 concert My Heart's Delight from Modena, Italy, Pavarotti's hometown, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The soprano is Nuccia Focile.


This video clip is taken from the First Act of Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata, an opera in three acts set to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, and based on La dame aux Camélias (1852), a play adapted from the 1848 novel by Alexandre Dumas, fils, son of the famous novelist. The title La Traviata means The Fallen Woman. 

The first performance of the opera was on March  6, 1853 at the La Fenice opera house in Venice, which Verdi declared a "fiasco." After changing the setting to the 1700s, rather than the contemporary times of the original production, and rewriting parts of the first two acts, Verdi's opera was ready for its audience's religious sensibilities. The first performance of the new version at another Venetian theatre, Teatro San Benedetto, in 1854, was a tremendous success, and the opera was quickly taken up by opera houses worldwide. It has since then become a standard of opera houses around the world and is one of the most popular operas performed on the stage.

This duet is one of the most famous from Verdi`s La Traviata, and one of the most well-known operatic fragments in the world. A brindisi is a song in which company is exhorted to drink, thus this is in essence an Italian drinking song. Here are the words, as supplied from Wikipedia.

Old Italian
(spoken by the upper social class of the 1850s)
Translation to Modern English
[Alfredo] [Alfredo]
Libiamo, libiamo ne'lieti calici Let's drink, let's drink from this merry chalice
che la bellezza infiora. that beauty so truly enhances
E la fuggevol ora s'inebrii And the brief moment will be happily inebriated
a voluttà with voluptuousness
Libiam ne'dolci fremiti Let's drink for the ecstatic feeling
che suscita l'amore, that love arouses
poiché quell'ochio al core onnipotente va. Because this eye aims straight to the almighty heart
Libiamo, amore, amor fra i calici Let's drink, my love, and the love among the chalices
più caldi baci avrà will make the kisses hotter
[Coro] [Chorus]
Ah! Libiam, amor, fra' calici più caldi baci avrà The chalices will make the kisses hotter
[Violetta] [Violetta]
Tra voi tra voi saprò dividere With you all, I can share
il tempo mio giocondo; my happiest times
Tutto è follia, follia nel mondo Everything in life
ciò che non è piacer which is not pleasure is foolish
Godiam, fugace e rapido Let's enjoy ourselves
e'il gaudio dell'amore, for the delight of love is fleeting and quick
e'un fior che nasce e muore, It's like a flower that blooms and dies
ne più si può goder And we can no longer enjoy it
Godiamo, c'invita, c'invita un fervido So enjoy; A keen and flattering
accento lusinghier. voice invites us!
[Coro] [Chorus]
Godiamo, la tazza, la tazza e il cantico, Be happy; The wine and singing
la notte abbella e il riso; beautify both the night and the laughter
in questo paradiso ne scopra il nuovo dì Let the new day find us in this paradise
[Violetta] [Violetta]
La vita è nel tripudio Life means celebration
[Alfredo] [Alfredo]
Quando non s'ami ancora Only if one hasn't known love
[Violetta] [Violetta]
Nol dite a chi l'ignora, Don't tell someone who doesn't know
[Alfredo] [Alfredo]
E'il mio destin così... But this is my fate...
[Tutti] [All]
Godiamo, la tazza, la tazza e il cantico, Be happy; The wine and singing
la notte abbella e il riso; beautify both the night and the laughter
in questo paradiso ne scopra il nuovo dì. Let the new day find us in this paradise

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