Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Mozart’s Idomeneo: Ileana Cotrubas: ‘Se Il Padre Perdei’

Italian Opera

In this 1982 Metropolitan Opera production of  Mozart’s Idomeneo, King of Crete, an Italian opera seria conducted by James Levine.  The setting is the Island of Crete, circa 1200 BCE, after the ten-year Trojan War between the Greeks and Trojans, which the Trojans lost, resulting in  many of them becoming captives, including Priam’s daughter, Princess Ilia. (For a full synopsis, read here.)

The Romanian opera soprano, Ileana Cotrubas (as Ilia, daughter of King Priam of Troy) sings the aria, ”Se il Padre Perdei” (“If I Lost My Father”), which is taken from Act II, scene 2. Since she has lost everything, Ilia tells Idomeneo with emotion that Crete can be her homeland. Love, ill defined and mysterious, transforms her thinking.

The libretto is written by Giovanni Battista Varesco, and Wikipedia adds, “from a French text by Antoine Danchet, which had been set to music by André Campra as Idoménée in 1712. […] The work premiered on 29 January 1781 at the Residenz Theatre in Munich, Germany.”

Se il padre perdei,
La patria, il riposo,
a Idomeneo
Tu padre mi sei,
Soggiorno amoroso
È Creta per me.
Or più non rammento
Le angoscie, gli affanni
Or gioia, e contento,
Compenso a miei danni
Il cielo mi diè.

English Translation
I have lost my father,
my country and my peace of mind,
to Idomeneo
you are now a father to me,
and Crete is for me
a blessed land to stay.
Now I recall no more
my anguish and distress;
now heaven has given me
joy and contentment
to compensate for my loss.