Monday, 12 September 2011

Soave sia il vento

This is the corollary to A Midsummer Night's Dream, which I liked because the music enhanced the drama. This aria, from Così fan Tutte, is a wondrous and beautiful musical delicacy which holds little dramatic weight in the context of what is a fairly ribald farce. That's not entirely fair - the two women singing this genuinely believe they are waving their fiancés off to war. But their noble sentiments are undermined by the audience's knowledge that these men are actually playing a cruel trick upon their girlfriends, having been manipulated by the owner of the third voice in this sombre trio, Don Alfonso.

But never mind the context because, once rescued from the knowing winks and leers of Mozart's comedy, this aria deserves to be considered a thing apart.

Così is another opera that I have seen a lot. I spent the Summer and Autumn of 1998 hanging around a woman who worked at Glyndebourne and this was the piece that I always seemed to catch. No wonder that this aria increasingly drew focus from the rest of the show.

The words too are beautiful, even in English. 
Soave sia il vento,
Tranquilla sia l'onda,
Ed ogni elemento
Benigno risponda
Ai nostri desir.

May the wind be gentle,
may the waves be calm,
and may every one of the elements
kindly fulfil our wishes.
I can't think of a better benediction with which to begin a long and challenging journey. What I can't have been sure of then was that I was setting out on just such a journey myself. I kept hanging around that woman and eventually managed to persuade her to marry me. Soave sia il vento was sung at the ceremony, but then you probably remember that yourself.

If you have Spotify (and if not, why not?) you can listen to a rather good version of it here.

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