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La donna è mobile

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Title: La donna è mobile  
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La donna è mobile

"La donna è mobile" (Italian pronunciation: , The woman is fickle) is the Duke of Mantua's canzone from the beginning of act 3 of Giuseppe Verdi's opera Rigoletto (1851). The inherent irony is that the Duke, a callous playboy, is the one who is mobile ("inconstant"). Its reprise towards the end of the opera is chilling, as Rigoletto realizes from the sound of the Duke's lively voice coming from within the tavern (offstage), that the body in the sack over which he has grimly triumphed is not that of the Duke after all: Rigoletto had paid Sparafucile, an assassin, to kill the Duke but Sparafucile deceived him by killing Gilda, Rigoletto's beloved daughter, instead.

The canzone is famous as a showcase for tenors. Raffaele Mirate's performance of the bravura aria at the opera's 1851 premiere was hailed as the highlight of the evening. Before its first public performance (in Venice), it was rehearsed under tight secrecy:[1] a necessary precaution, because it proved to be catchy and soon after its first public performance every gondolier in Venice was singing it.

The music

Theme
Performed by Enrico Caruso in 1908

Problems playing this file? See .

The almost comical-sounding theme of "La donna è mobile" is introduced immediately, and runs as illustrated (transposed from the original key of B major). The theme is repeated several times in the approximately two minutes it takes to perform the aria, but with the important—and obvious—omission of the last bar. This has the effect of driving the music forward as it creates the impression of being incomplete and unresolved, which it is, ending not on the tonic or dominant but on the submediant. Once the Duke has finished singing, however, the theme is once again repeated; but this time it includes the last, and conclusive, bar and finally resolving to the tonic. The song is strophic in form with an orchestral ritornello. A performance takes about three minutes.

Libretto

Italian Prosaic translation Poetic translation

1. La donna è mobile
Qual piuma al vento,
muta d'accento
e di pensiero.

Sempre un amabile,
leggiadro viso,
in pianto o in riso,
è menzognero.


Refrain
La donna è mobil'.
Qual piuma al vento,
muta d'accento
e di pensier'!

2. È sempre misero
chi a lei s'affida,
chi le confida
mal cauto il cuore!

Pur mai non sentesi
felice appieno
chi su quel seno
non liba amore!


Refrain
La donna è mobil'
Qual piuma al vento,
muta d'accento
e di pensier'!
[2]

Woman is flighty.
Like a feather in the wind,
she changes in voice
and in thought.

Always a lovely,
pretty face,
in tears or in laughter,
it's untrue.

Refrain
Woman is flighty.
like a feather in the wind,
she changes in voice
and in thought!

Always miserable
is he who trusts her,
he who confides in her
his unwary heart!

Yet one never feels
fully happy
who from that bosom
does not drink love!

Refrain
Woman is flighty.
Like a feather in the wind,
she changes her words,
and her thoughts![3]

Plume in the summerwind
Waywardly playing
Ne'er one way swaying
Each whim obeying;

Thus heart of womankind
Ev'ry way bendeth,
Woe who dependeth
On joy she spendeth!

Refrain
Yes, heart of woman
Ev'ry way bendeth
Woe who dependeth
On joy she spends.

Sorrow and misery
Follow her smiling,
Fond hearts beguiling,
falsehood assoiling!

Yet all felicity
Is her bestowing,
No joy worth knowing
Is there but wooing.

Refrain
Yes, heart of woman
Ev'ry way bendeth
Woe who dependeth
On joy she spends.[2]

References

  1. ^ Downes, Olin (1918). The Lure of Music: Depicting the Human Side of Great Composers. Kessinger. p. 38. 
  2. ^ a b  
  3. ^ "La donna è mobile", translated by Randy Garrou, Aria Database

External links

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