Sunday, October 6, 2013

"Don't tempt me," Nedda implores Silvio -- but they can't help themselves

Teresa Stratas and Alberto Rinaldi as Nedda and Silvio in Franco Zeffirelli's film of Pagliacci
NEDDA: Don't tempt me!
Do you want me to lose my life?
Quiet, Silvio, no more!
It's delirium! madness!
I'm trusting in you,
to whom I gave my heart!
Don't abuse my trust, my fevered love.

Teresa Stratas (s), Nedda; Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala, Georges Prêtre, cond. Philips, recorded 1983

by Ken

We're continuing with Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci. The fine piece of imploring from Nedda above comes in answer to the stretch of imploring from Silvio we've already heard, most recently in Friday night's preview {"In I Pagliacci, is it so surprising that Nedda would choose the mysterious Silvio over her husband?"). I was going to chop it down to just Silvio's immediately preceding plea ("Nedda, Nedda, answer me"), but I just couldn't make that chop.

LEONCAVALLO: I Pagliacci: Act I,
Silvio, "E fra quest'ansie in eterno vivrai?"

SILVIO [approaching NEDDA sadly and tenderly]:
And amid this anxiety you'll live forever?
Nedda! Nedda!
[He takes her hand and leads her downstage.]
Decide my fate, Nedda! Nedda, stay!
You know that the festival comes
to an end and everyone will leave tomorrow.
Nedda! Nedda!
And when you say that you will be gone from here,
what will become of me, of my life?
NEDDA [moved]: Silvio!
SILVIO: Nedda, Nedda, answer me!
If it's true that you never loved Canio,
if it's true that you hate this wandering,
and the profession you ply,
if your immense love isn't just a fancy,
this night let's leave!
Fly, fly with me!

Mario Zanasi (b), Silvio; Lucine Amara (s), Nedda; Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala, Lovro von Matačić, cond. EMI, recorded 1960


INSTEAD OF BREAKING DOWN THE SILVIO-NEDDA
SCENE, WE'RE JUST GOING TO SWEEP THROUGH IT


We've been working our way through Nedda's response to her husband Canio's little bizarro outburst in response to the suggestion that Tonio is staying behind rather than joining Canio, Beppe, and the villagers in order to woo Nedda -- and the two remarkable scenes that follow, first with Tonio, who is fact has stayed behind to woo Nedda, and then with a mysterious (to us, anyway) stranger.

We've now already heard this crucial exchange from the Silvio-Nedda scene. I thought we would proceed by breaking it down, as we did with Nedda's solo scene and the grand confrontation with Tonio, but instead I think we're just going to listen through the scene, with three very different casts and three very different conductors. I suppose you could say that Tullio Serafin's noticeably gradual pacing suits his cast, while Francesco Molinari-Pradelli's quicker pacing suits his. I've thrown in the Russian performance partly for the ravishment of Pavel Lisitsian's Silvio, but also because Alexandra Yakovenko's Nedda is a nice piece of work too. For that matter, baritone Vladimir Zakharov isn't chopped liver as Tonio.

I Pagliacci: Act I, Recitative and Ballatella, Nedda;
Nedda-Tonio scene; Silvio-Nedda scene
(1) Recitative and Ballatella, Nedda
[During the Bell Chorus, CANIO has left with BEPPE and five or six villagers. NEDDA remains alone.]
NEDDA: Recitative
How his eyes did blaze! I turned mine
away for fear he should read
my secret thought!
Oh, if he should catch me,
brutal as he is! But enough,
these are frightening nightmares and silly fancies!
Oh, what a beautiful mid-August sun!
I'm brimful of life
and all languishing
with mysterious desire -- I don't know what I wish!
Oh, how the birds fly up, and what a screaming!
What are they asking? Where are they going? Who knows?
My mother, who used to tell fortunes,
understood their song,
and to me as a child she would sing:
Ah! Ah!
Ballatella
They scream away up there to their hearts' content,
hurled into flight like arrows, the birds.
They defy the clouds and the fierce sun,
and go about the paths of the sky.
Let them roam the air,
these creatures thirsty for blue skies and bright splendor!
They too follow a dream, a mirage
and soar among the gilded clouds!
Wind may pursue and storm bray,
with wings outspread, they can defy all;
rain, the lightning flash, nothing ever stops them,
and they soar above the abyss and the sea.
They fly far off there to a strange country
of which perhaps they dream, and seek in vain.
But the gypsies of the sky follow the mysterious power
that drives them on, and go! And go! And go!

(2) Scene, Nedda and Tonio
NEDDA is startled out of her reverie by the discovery that TONIO is watching.

NEDDA [sharply interrupting her train of thought]: You're there? I thought you had gone.
TONIO: It's the fault of your singing.
Fascinated, I reveled in it.
NEDDA [mockingly]: Ha Ha! So much poetry!
TONIO: Don't laugh, Nedda!
NEDDA: Go! Go off to the inn!
TONIO: I know well that I am deformed,
I am contorted,
that I arouse only scorn and horror.
Yet my thoughts know dreams, desires,
a beating of the heart.
When so disdainfully you pass me by,
you don't know what tears
grief forces out of me!
Because, in spite of myself,
I've suffered enchantment,
I've been conquered by love!
[Moving closer to her]
Oh! let me tell you --
NEDDA [interrupting]: That you love me?
Ha ha ha ha!
You'll have time to tell me that again tonight,
if you want. Ha ha ha!
TONIO: Nedda!
NEDDA: Tonight! When you're making your faces
out there, out there on the stage! Ha ha ha!
TONIO: Don't laugh, Nedda!
NEDDA: You'll have time!
Making faces out there! Ha ha ha!
TONIO: You don't know what tears
grief forces out of me! Don't laugh, no!
NEDDA: For then such sorrow!
TONIO: I've suffered enchantment!
I've been conquered by love! Nedda!
[NEDDA laughs. TONIO implores.]
Nedda!
NEDDA: Such sorrow you can save up!
TONIO: No! It's here that I want to tell you,
and you will hear me,
that I love you and desire you,
and that you will be mine!
NEDDA [with studied insolence]:
Ha, tell me, master Tonio,
does your back itch today?
Or is it a box on the ears
that's necessary for your ardor?
TONIO: You mock me! Wretch!
By the cross of God!
Watch out, you'll pay dearly for that!
NEDDA: You threaten? Do you want me to go call Canio?
TONIO [moving toward her]: Not before I've kissed you!
NEDDA [drawing back]: Watch out!
TONIO: Oh, soon you will be mine!
[He rushes at her. She picks up the whipe that BEPPE threw down and strikes TONIO in the face.]
NEDDA: Wretched creature!
[He screams and draws back.]
TONIO: By the Holy Virgin of mid-August,
I swear, Nedda, that you'll pay me for this!
[He goes off sobbing. NEDDA stands motionless, watching him.]
NEDDA: Viper! Go! You've at last revealed yourself, Tonio the idiot!
You have a soul just as deformed as your body! Filthy!

(3) Scene, Silvio and Nedda
SILVIO [appearing over the wall]:  Nedda!
NEDDA: Silvio! At this hour! What imprudence!
SILVIO [jumping down]: Ha! Ha! I knew that I was risking nothing. I escorted Canio and Beppe to the tavern far away.
But I came prudently through the brush that's familiar to me.
NEDDA: And a little bit ago you'd have run into Tonio!
SILVIO [laughing]: Ha! Tonio the hunchback!
NEDDA: The hunchback is to be feared!
He loves me!
SILVIO: Ha!
NEDDA: Just now he told me . . .
and in his bestial delirium he was asking for kisses,
he burned to throw himself on me.
SILVIO: By God!
NEDDA: But with the whip I calmed the foul dog's fire!
SILVIO [approaching NEDDA sadly and tenderly]:
And amid this anxiety you'll live forever?
Nedda! Nedda!
[He takes her hand and leads her downstage.]
Decide my fate, Nedda! Nedda, stay!
You know that the festival comes
to an end and everyone will leave tomorrow.
Nedda! Nedda!
And when you say that you will be gone from here,
what will become of me, of my life?
NEDDA [moved]: Silvio!
SILVIO: Nedda, Nedda, answer me!
If it's true that you never loved Canio,
if it's true that you hate this wandering,
and the profession you ply,
if your immense love isn't just a fancy,
this night let's leave!
Fly, fly with me!
NEDDA: Don't tempt me!
Do you want me to lose my life?
Quiet, Silvio, no more!
It's delirium! madness!
I'm trusting in you,
to whom I gave my heart!
Don't abuse my trust, my fevered love.
SILVIO: Then come!
NEDDA: Don't tempt me!
SILVIO: Then come!
NEDDA: Have pity on me! Don't tempt me!
SILVIO: Ah! fly with me! Then come!
No, you no longer love me!
TONIO [apprearing on the stage but hidden from the lovers]: Ah! I've caught you, hussy!
NEDDA: What!
SILVIO: You no longer love me!
[TONIO goes off, threatening.]
NEDDA: Yes, I love you! I love you!
SILVIO: And you're leaving in the morning?
[Lovingly, trying to move her]
Then why, tell me, have you bewitched me,
if you're going to desert me so pitilessly?
Why did you give me your kiss
in moments of burning passion?
If you have forgotten those moments
of fleeting passion, I cannot do so,
and I want to know again those burning moments,
those passionate kisses that awoke
such a fever in my heart!
NEDDA: I've forgotten nothing! -- I'm disturbed
and confused by this love that burns in your gaze.
I want to live bound to you, enchanted,
a life of love, tranquil and peaceful!
I give myself to you; you alone rule me!
And I take you and surrender myself utterly!
NEDDA and SILVIO: Let us forget all! Let us forget all!
NEDDA: Look in my eyes! Look!
SILVIO: Let us forget all! I am looking!
NEDDA: Kiss me, kiss me! Let us forget all!
SILVIO: I kiss you! Let us forget all, all!
Will you come?
NEDDA: Yes, kiss me!
Yes, look at me and kiss me!
SILVIO [together: Yes, I am looking, and I kiss you!
NEDDA and SILVIO: I love you! I love you!

Maria Callas (s), Nedda; Tito Gobbi (b), Tonio; Rolando Panerai (b), Silvio; Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala, Tullio Serafin, cond. EMI, recorded June 12-17, 1954

Gabriella Tucci (s), Nedda; Cornell MacNeil (b), Tonio; Renato Capecchi (b), Silvio; Orchestra of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia (Rome), Francesco Molinari-Pradelli, cond. Decca, recorded 1958

[in Russian] Alexandra Yakovenko (s), Nedda; Vladimir Zakharov (b), Tonio; Pavel Lisitsian (b), Silvio; Moscow Philharmonic Orchesetra, Samuel Samosud, cond. Melodiya, recorded c1956
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