Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Luciano Pavarotti: Puccini's Tosca—'Recondita Armonia'

Here is Luciano Pavarotti performing the aria, "Recondita Armonia," from Act 1 of Giacomo Puccini's Tosca, in a September 1988 recital at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, James Levine, The Met's artistic director, as accompanist.


Giacomo Puccini  composed Tosca, a three-act opera, and Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa wrote the Italian libretto. The work, like most operas, is based on another narrative, in this case, Victorien Sardou's La Tosca (1887), a French-language dramatic play in five acts set in Rome, Italy, in June 1800. As written, the Kingdom of Naples's control of Rome is threatened by Napoleon's invasion of Italy. (The synopsis for the opera can be found here.)

Puccini's opera premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on January 14, 1900, to a good reception, with numerous encores. But its greater success was in Milan's La Scala, two months later, with Arturo Toscanini conducting on March 17, 1900. It was a great success and played to packed houses.

Here are the lyrics to the aria, which is sung by the painter, Mario Cavaradossi, when comparing his love, Tosca, to a lady he was painting. "Recondita armonia" roughly translates as hidden or mysterious harmony.

Recondita armonia

Recondita armonia di bellezze diverse!
È bruna Floria, l'ardente amante mia,
e te, beltade ignota
cinta di chiome bionde!
Tu azzuro hai l'occhio
Tosca ha l'occhio nero!
L'arte nel suo mistero
le diverse bellezze insiem confonde:
ma nel ritrar costei
il mio solo pensiero,
ah! il mio sol pensier sei tu!
Tosca sei tu!
[English Translation] 

Hidden harmony of different beauties
Floria my passionate lover is a brunette
and you unknown beauty
are framed by fair hair
you have blue eyes
Tosca has dark eyes
the mysterious art
mixes the different beauties together
but while I paint her
I only think
Ah I only think of you
Tosca of you! 

Translation courtesy of Mark Harris (tgray@mail.usyd.edu.au) from The Aria Database.

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