Saturday, October 1, 2011

Maria Callas: Madame Butterfly—'Un bel dì vedremo'



Maria Callas, in 1954, performs the famous aria, "Un bel dì vedremo," from Act II of Giacomo Puccini's Madame Butterfly (in Italian, "Madama Butterfly"), an Italian opera in three acts. Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa wrote the Italian libretto. It premiered at La Scala in Milan, Italy, on February 17, 1904, where it was a failure.

After Puccini reworked it, the opera premiered again in Brescia, Italy, on May 28, 1904, where it was a huge success.  It now ranks among the top-ten performed operas in the world. The setting is Nagasaki, Japan, in 1904. The synopsis can be found here.

The lyrics are as follows, as supplied by About.com:


Un bel dì vedremo
Un bel dì, vedremo
levarsi un fil di fumo
sull'estremo confin del mare.
E poi la nave appare.
Poi la nave bianca
entra nel porto,
romba il suo saluto.

Vedi? È venuto!
Io non gli scendo incontro. Io no.
Mi metto là sul ciglio del colle e aspetto,
e aspetto gran tempo
e non mi pesa,
la lunga attesa.

E uscito dalla folla cittadina,
un uomo, un picciol punto
s'avvia per la collina.
Chi sarà? chi sarà?
E come sarà giunto
che dirà? che dirà?
Chiamerà Butterfly dalla lontana.
Io senza dar risposta
me ne starò nascosta

un po' per celia
e un po' per non morire
al primo incontro;
ed egli alquanto in pena
chiamerà, chiamerà:
"Piccina mogliettina,
olezzo di verbena"
i nomi che mi dava al suo venire.
(a Suzuki)
Tutto questo avverrà,
te lo prometto.
Tienti la tua paura,
io con sicura fede l'aspetto.

English Translation
One good day, we will see
Arising a strand of smoke
Over the far horizon on the sea
And then the ship appears
And then the ship is white
It enters into the port, it rumbles its salute.

Do you see it? He is coming!
I don't go down to meet him, not I.
I stay upon the edge of the hill
And I wait a long time
but I do not grow weary of the long wait.

And leaving from the crowded city,
A man, a little speck
Climbing the hill.
Who is it? Who is it?
And as he arrives
What will he say? What will he say?
He will call Butterfly from the distance
I without answering
Stay hidden

A little to tease him,
A little as to not die.
At the first meeting,
And then a little troubled
He will call, he will call
"Little one, dear wife
Blossom of orange"
The names he called me at his last coming.
All this will happen,
I promise you this
Hold back your fears -
I with secure faith wait for him.

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