Sunday, March 4, 2007

Puccini's Gianni Schicchi

Gianni Schicchi , a comic one-act opera by the great Puccini, contains, in spite of its brevity, music that has become part of the popular culture, mainly due to the film A Room With A View (1986). It is a black comedy about a scheming Florentine merchant at the dawn of the fourteenth century, and how he uses his wits to win his daughter's happiness. The daughter is named Lauretta, and Lauretta's aria, O mio babbino caro, in which she begs her father to help the man she loves so they can be married, is very famous. It is a personal favorite which I used to sing often, in the days when I could not decide whether to become a nun or an opera singer. (I became neither, ultimately. Hopefully someone will sing it at my funeral, not at the Mass, of course, which God-willing will have Gregorian chant, but maybe at the cocktail party afterwards.)

Here are the words of the aria:

O mio babbino caro,
mi piace è bello, bello;
vo'andare in Porta Rossa
a comperar l'anello!
Sì, sì, ci voglio andare!
e se l'amassi indarno,
andrei sul Ponte Vecchio,
ma per buttarmi in Arno!
Mi struggo e mi tormento!
O Dio, vorrei morir!

Babbo, pietà, pietà!
Babbo, pietà, pietà!

Oh, dear papa,
I love him, he is so handsome
I want to go to Porta Rossa
to buy the ring.
Yes, yes, I want to go there
And if my love were in vain
I would go to Ponte Vecchio
and throw myself in the Arno.
I suffer and am tormented.
Oh God, I wish I could die
Oh, papa, have pity, have pity!

Yes, it is a song of desperate love, for to be young and in love is to be desperate. There are now so few boundaries and restraints; I wonder if young love has the same desperation, the same sublimity.

Classical music can take on new meanings over the years for different individuals. O mio babbino caro has become for me a prayer for my deceased father. He always tried to help, as much as he was able.


Anonymous said...

Your observations on modern love I am afraid are so true. However, the Wall Street Journal had a very interesting article on the young generation turning to the orthodoxy of their religious heritage. Of course, they did not include Catholics in this, but Moslems, Jews and Christian Fundamentalists. All of these young people are from secularized families with a very laizez faire approach to life and are shocked by their off-springs' embracing these religious attitudes. The paper compared it to a new form of rebellion, how little they know.

The last lines of Edmund Burke in the quote under Marie Antoinette's picture sums it up perfectly.


elena maria vidal said...

Yes, Miss Sally, I saw that interesting article in the WSJ. Thank God, there is hope for our youth!