Monday, September 17, 2012

Verismo Opera



Opera-Ballet in Two Acts by

Giacomo Puccini

Italian Libretto by
Ferdinando Fontana

English Translation
Daniel Pardo-Rangel © 2001

Ferdinando Fontana (background) and Giacomo Puccini (Foreground), 1884.

Original Production program 1884


Act One: It is Spring. Roberto and Anna's engagement is being celebrated in a clearing in the forrest. All are happy that Roberto has inherited a small fortune, and he must go to Mainz to claim it. This worries Anna; she tells Roberto of the unhappy premonition she has had for some time, that he will forget her and not return from Mainz. He reassures her of his love and asks her to not doubt him.

As the merriment winds down, Roberto asks Anna's father, Guglielmo, for his blessing before taking his leave. All are happy for Roberto and wish him a successful trip.

Intermezzo:   Roberto, seduced by a mermaid, wasted his inheritance, and forgot Anna, who died of a broken heart at the beginning of winter. Her soul joined Le Villi, the spirits of other girls whose hearts have been broken

The Narrator tells the Black Forrest legend of those who break their promises of love, and how the Villis gather in the forrest at night waiting for their return. When the faithless lover enters the forrest, the Villis in their frenzied dance, take the lover down.

Act Two: Guglielmo, stricken with grief over the death of his daughter, curses Roberto for all the grief he has caused, and invokes the wrath of the Villis against his daughter's suitor. Guglielmo repents immediately, upon wishing death on Roberto, and begs for forgiveness for his vengefulness.

A remorseful Roberto returns to the village. At the end of the forrest he meets the ghost of Anna, who tells him of her sorrow waiting for his return and how she died of a broken heart. Roberto begs for her forgiveness, but Anna and the Villis drag him into their dance. Exhausted, Roberto falls dead at Anna's feet as the spirits and the Villis sing with joy.   

Complete recording of Le Villi


Act I

A clearing in the forest. To the right, in front, Guglielmo’s modest house. In the rear, to the right, a path that disappears into the thick underbrush climbing to a cliff, from which, a bridge connects it to another cliff. It is Spring.  The scene is decorated for a party, with garlands of flowers hanging everywhere.  Guglielmo, Anna, and Robert are seated at the head table.

(As Anna and Roberto move away, holding hands)

Cheers! Cheers! Cheers! Cheers to the couple!
Roberto is the heir of the old woman from Magonza! 
The accumulated treasures are, in fact,  many!
Though poor this afternoon, Roberto will leave 
to return rich and marry his sweetheart!
Cheers! Cheers! Cheers! Cheers to the couple!
(The musicians play a country dance)
Turn! Turn! Turn! Jump! Turn! Jump!
The music is thrilling and delirious,
The dance is intoxicating and urges us forward!
Oh ! the hours rush by when the feet are nimble
And the dance is frivolous!
The party is the rival of the heart: it makes the heart beat faster!
Turn! Turn! Turn! Jump! Turn! Jump!
(To Guglielmo)
Hey! Guglielmo! Come to dance!

Yes, and why not? My God!
I am old, but I have strong legs!
(Gallantly, he asks a young girl to dance)

Turn! Spin!  Turn! Jump! Turn! Jump!

(Amidst the laughter and the applause, Guilielmo leaves with the dancer. Little by little everyone follows him out. The scene remains empty for a moment, then, Anna returns, in the back, alone with a bunch of Forget-me-not)

If I were small like you, Oh! pretty flower,
I could always, always, be near my love.
Then, I would tell him: “I think of you always!”
And repeat to him: “Forget me not”
You, happier than I am, follow him.  Oh! flower, 
follow my loved one through the dales and valleys.
Oh! If your name is not false, then, to my loved one, 
repeat: “Forget me not”
(Anna goes to put the flowers in Roberto’s case)

(Watching Anna, smiling as he approaches her)
Ah, I have caught you!


(Taking the flowers from his case, 
he kisses them, and puts them back)

Thank you, my Anna, but I would like 
A sweeter souvenir.

Which one?

A smile.
(Anna shakes her head)
Do not be sad, dearest Anna. 
It will be but a few days before I return.

I try in vain to refrain from crying, 
I have a sadness that I cannot conquer.
Foreboding clouds disturb my mind,
I fear that I should never see you again.


Last night I dreamed that I was
Dying, waiting for you.

Come on! Such thoughts!
Instead, think instead of the happiness
Destiny has for us, and our love.

But you love me, truly?

My angel, why do still doubt my love?
You have shared the happiness and caresses
Of my childhood; from your virtues and sweetness
I learned the joy of life.
I was poor, and you chose my affection
Over that of a rich man.
Oh! Doubt God,
But do not doubt my love.
I love you!

Sweet and gentle words, Oh!
You are engraved in my sad heart,
And in the misty moments of waiting,
You will alleviate my pain!
Sweet and gentle words, Oh!
How many times my lips
Will murmur you:
"Ah! Doubt of God,
But do not doubt my love!
I love you!"

(The mountaineers return with Guglielmo)

Hurry! Hurry, get going!
It is time to go!
You must be on your way,
Before the happy rays of the sun
Disappear at dusk!

Anna, have courage!

I feel like I am dying!

(To Roberto)
We will come to the end of the forest, with you.

(To Guglielmo)
Father, a blessing!

Everyone gather around me.
(Anna, Roberto and everyone kneel at Guglielmo’s feet)

Angel of God in heaven, this night,
Take this prayer to the Lord’s throne!

Anna, Roberto and Guglielmo
May it be a favorable journey
To all the pilgrims!
Do not deceive
All dreams of love!
Take this prayer to the Lord’s throne!
(Guglielmo embraces Roberto, then Roberto embraces 
Anna, and waives to the men and women)

Father, Anna, goodbye!

Anna, Guglilmo and the mountaineers
Goodbye, Roberto, Goodbye!
(Roberto leaves with some friends)

First Part: L’Abbandono

The Narrator
In those days, in Magonza, a siren 
Captivated the young, and the old men.
She lured Roberto to an obscene orgy,
And he forgot his affections for Anna.
Meanwhile, grieving with pain, the
Betrayed girl waited for him.  But she
Waited in vain, and when winter came,
She asked her eyes for eternal sleep.

(Anna's funeral procession is seen in the rear, leaving Guglielmo's house)

Village Women
Like a dying Lily, she lies in her coffin.
A ray of moonlight is the candor on her face.
Oh! Virginal maiden, rest in peace!

Second Part: La Tregenda

(The landscape is the same as in the first, but it is a winter night.  Twiggy and without leaves, the poplar trees are covered with snow.  The star filled sky is cal:  the moon illuminates the gloomy landscape.  Preceeded by flashes of lightning, Le Villi come out to dance)

The Narrator
There is a legend in the Black Forrest, 
The legend of Le Villi, it is called,
And it fills all faithless lovers with terror.
Waiting for the traitor, 
The Villis dance every night in the forrest, 
When a young girl dies of a broken heart.
When they find him, the Villis laugh and 
Dance with him until, in the frenzy 
Of the dance, they kill him.  
Oh! For Roberto, there is a sad day ahead.
Penniless, and abandoned by the siren, 
He thought of returning, and tonight
He has indeed come to the forrest.
Round and round the Villis dance and laugh,
In the evening's frosty air.
He, trembling with cold and fear, 
Is already in the midst of the dark forrest.

Act II

(Sitting in front of his house, pained and grieving)

No, it is not possible that his guilt goes unavenged.
She lived saintly and quietly by my side, 
My sweet daughter!  Then he awoke with his words, 
Yearnings of love in her heart. 
(He stands up rapidly)
Oh! Scoundrel!  Who, then, asked for your love?
What horrible crime have we committed
For you to kill that angel, and give my final days such misery? 
No, it is not possible for such a deed to go unpunished!
Saintly soul of my daughter, if the legend of Le Villi is true,
Oh! Don't be with him as kind as you were before,
But wait for him when night falls.
If I could but know that you have been avenged, 
I would happily greet my last day.
Oh!  Forgive me, Lord, the merciless thoughts
That escape from my aching heart   
(He goes inside the house)  

Le Villi
(Off stage)

Here he comes!
Anna!  Anna!  Anna!
Here comes the traitor to meet his death sentence!
Here is is, getting closer!  Behold him!  Come!  
Cursed man, hurry!
(Roberto appears on the small bridge, and advances)

(To himself)
Here is the house.  
God, what a horrible night!
Strange voices pursuing me.  Le Villi ....  Nonsense!
They are tales to frighten people;
It is madness!
(He walkss towards the house)
No, the fatal curse of Le Villi is not after me!
Viper from Hell!
Poisonous viper from Hell!
Anguished, my thoughts return to happier days,
When May flowers smiled.
Love bloomed, love bloomed for me!
Now, everything is covered in mysterious gloom,
And in my heart there is nothing,
But sadness and fear!
Perhaps she is still alive!
(He looks at the house, and, urgently, walks towards it)
I will knock on the door.
(He starts to reach for the door, but stops as though an unknown force impedes him)
Shivers run through me!
In vain I try to lift my hand
Over the limits of the threshold.

Le Villi
Come!  Cursed man, hurry!

It seems like I am hearing a gloomy song!
(Worn out, he kneels to pray)
Oh! Supreme Lord!  
This is the end of my road and of my destiny.
Let your pardon return her happiness to me, 
For one moment, then I can die!
(He jumps to his feet)
I cannot pray!
Ah! Damned day, the day that I went far from here!
Damn your beauty, vile courtesan!
Be damned!  For ever  Damned!

Le Villi
Walk!  Walk!  Walk!

(Off stage)

Heavens!  Her voice!
Then she is not dead!

(Standing on the bridge)
I am no longer "Love,"
I am now, "Vengeance."

(Falls to his knees)
Oh! God!

Do you remember what you said in the month of the flowers?
"You have shared the happiness and caresses 
of my childhood; from your virtues and sweetness
I learned the joy of life....
Oh! Doubt God,
But do not doubt my love."
I love you;  you betrayed me.
I waited for you; you never came.
But it is a terrible ache to suffer in silence!
Without hope in my heart, you left me to die!

I forgot her, I betrayed her, 
And because of me she lost her life.
Ah!  It is a great sorrow I have to bear!
With remorse in my heart,
I feel I am about to die!

(Roberto goes towards Anna, as though driven by an unknown force.  He tries to control the impulse that drives him, but he cannot, and  throws himself towards her.  Anna advances and extends him her arms and embraces him.  Meanwhile, Le Villi come out and circle around Roberto and Anna, and drag them away, dancing furiously, off the stage

(Off stage)
Here we wait for you, traitor!
Do not expect any pity from us!

Le Villi and the Spirits
He, who in life was deaf to love,
Does not have forgiveness in death!
Traitor!  We are waiting for you!
Turn! Jump! Turn! Jump!

(Roberto, terrified, knocks on Guglielmo's door.  Discovering that Le Villi are coming after him, he tries to escape, but Anna appears, and blocks his path.  Anna reassures Roberto, and with the help of Le Villi, she overtakes him, as they dance furiously.)

(Exhausted, he falls at her feet)
Anna, have pity on me!

(Ignoring his plea)
You are mine!
(She vanishes)

Le Villi and the Spirits
(Dancing around Roberto, until he dies)
Hosanna!  Hosanna!  Hosanna!



Guglielmo....................................................Stefano Antonucci, Bass
Anna............................................................Nanà Gordaze, Soprano
Roberto...................................................................José Cura, Tenor
Narrator..........................................Massimo Foschi,  Speaking Role

Chorus of Villagers, unseen Ghosts, and Villi

Bruno Aprea Conducts the Orchestre Internazionale d'Italia
Coro da Camera Gluck di Bratislava

Co-Production with XX Festival della Valle d'Itria-Martina Franca

Video and Soundtrack: LuluJC62, YouTube

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