High hopes for the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

Colombo believes, however, that the building has “enormous potential, enabling us to alternate operas in rapid succession and involve even casual passersby with video projections of rehearsals in the outdoor amphitheater. I feel the house could well become the focal point of a new Florentine Renaissance in the twenty-first century.”

In Florence, there is indeed a feeling that anything can happen, and the great Renaissance of the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries still envelops even the most distracted of visitors.

If one prowls the narrower streets late at night or crosses the Piazza della Signoria as morning rises, one has a real feeling of history still interacting mysteriously with the present.

This was certainly the case for Franco Zeffirelli, who attributes much of the underlying inspiration for his work in the opera house to his upbringing and training in this city haunted by ghosts of the distant past.

 

Opera: the quintessential Italian art form

IMG_5559

If Pirandello is the archetypal Italian writer, then opera— packed with searing emotion expressed without reserve— is the quintessential Italian art form. Its origins, in the late sixteenth century, are exclusively Italian.

It grew out of the discussions and experiments of the Camerata, a group of Florentine writers, musicians and intellectuals whose main aim was to revive the blend of words and music that was known to have existed in classical Greek drama.

An Italian, Jacopo Peri, composed the earliest recorded opera, Dafne, which was first performed in 1598. And it was in an Italian city, Venice, that the first public opera house, the Teatro San Cassiano, was opened in 1637.

 

Hooper, John. The Italians (p. 66). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Nel blu dipito di blu (aka “Volare”)

Think of Italian music and you are likely to start humming this classic pop number: Nel blu depito di blu.  Or, as it is more popularly known: Volare.

Nel blu dipinto di blu” (literally “In the blue that is painted blue”), popularly known as “Volare” (meaning “To fly”), is the iconic song recorded by Italian singer-songwriter Domenico Modugno.  Modugno and Franco Migliacci wrote the song together an edit was released as a single in 1958.

images-4

So here it is, the original song by the songwriter himself, in the 1950s, on the Ed Sullivan Show:

 

 

And now for your listening pleasure is the same song, reworked by Gianna Nannini.  I love the song in both of its forms!

 

Buon ascolta!

And then, when you want to know the lyrics in Italian (first) or English (after), here you go:

Penso che un sogno così non ritorni mai più
Mi dipingevo le mani e la faccia di blu
Poi d’improvviso venivo dal vento rapito
E incominciavo a volare nel cielo infinito

Volare, oh oh…
Cantare, ohohoho…
Nel blu dipinto di blu
Felice di stare lassù

E volavo, volavo felice
Più in alto del sole ed ancora più su
Mentre il mondo pian piano spariva, lontano laggiù
Una musica dolce suonava soltanto per me

Volare, oh oh…
Cantare, ohohoho…
Nel blu dipinto di blu
Felice di stare lassù

Ma tutti i sogni nell’alba svaniscono perché
Quando tramonta, la luna li porta con sé
Ma io continuo a sognare negli occhi tuoi belli
Che sono blu come un cielo trapunto di stelle

Volare, oh oh…
Cantare, ohohoho…
Nel blu degli occhi tuoi blu
Felice di stare quaggiù

E continuo a volare felice
Più in alto del sole ed ancora più su
Mentre il mondo pian piano scompare negli occhi tuoi blu
La tua voce è una musica dolce che suona per me

Volare, oh oh…
Cantare, ohohoho…
Nel blu degli occhi tuoi blu
Felice di stare quaggiù

Nel blu degli occhi tuoi blu
Felice di stare quaggiù con te

Flying (In the blue painted  blue)

I think such a dream will never come back
I painted my hands and my face blue
Then suddenly I was ravished by the wind
And I started flying in the infinite sky

Flying, oh oh…
Singing, ohohoho…
In the blue painted  blue
Happy to be up there

And I was flying, flying happily
Higher than the sun and even higher
While the world was slowly disappearing, far beneath
A soft music was playing just for me

Flying, oh oh..
Singing, ohohoho…
In the blue painted  blue
Happy to be up there

But all the dreams fade away at dawn, because
While setting, the moon takes them away
But I keep dreaming in your beautiful eyes
Which are as blue as a sky quilted with stars

Flying, oh oh…
Singing, ohohoho…
In the blue of your blue eyes
Happy to be down here

And I keep flying happily
Higher than the sun and even higher
While the world is slowly disappearing in your blue eyes
Your voice is a soft music playing for me

Flying, oh oh…
Singing, ohohoho…
In the blue of your blue eyes
Happy to be down here

In the blue of your blue eyes
Happy to be down here with you

 

Mimi

Giacomo Puccini’s famous opera, La Boheme, is packed with fantastic arie, like the one Mimi sings: “Mi chiamano Mimi.”  When Rodolfo reveals to her that he has fallen in love, he wants to know all about her. He asks her to tell him something about her. Mimi’s reply begins by telling him she is called Mimi, but her true name is Lucia.

The English translation is as follows:

Yes, they call me Mimi
but my true name is Lucia.
My story is short.
A canvas or a silk
I embroidery at home and outside…
I am happy happy and at peace
and my pastime
is to make lilies and roses.
I love all things
that have gentle sweet smells,
that speak of love, of spring,
of dreams and fanciful things,
those things that have poetic names …
Do you understand me?
They call me Mimi,
I do not know why.
Alone, I make
do by myself.

I do not go to church,
but I pray a lot to the Lord.
I stay all alone
there in a white room
and look upon the roofs and the sky
but when the thaw comes
The first sun, like the
first kiss, is mine!
Buds in a vase…
Leaf and leaf I spy!
That gentle perfume of a flower!
But the flowers that I make,
Alas! no smell.
Other than telling you about me, I know nothing.
I am only your neighbor who comes out to bother you.

 

 

You can listen to a diva perform it here:

The Italian lyrics are as follows:

Si. Mi chiamano Mimì
ma il mio nome è Lucia.
La storia mia è breve.
A tela o a seta
ricamo in casa e fuori…
Son tranquilla e lieta
ed è mio svago
far gigli e rose.
Mi piaccion quelle cose
che han sì dolce malìa,
che parlano d’amor, di primavere,
di sogni e di chimere,
quelle cose che han nome poesia…
Lei m’intende?
Mi chiamano Mimì,
il perché non so.
Sola, mi fo
il pranzo da me stessa.
Non vado sempre a messa,
ma prego assai il Signore.
Vivo sola, soletta
là in una bianca cameretta:
guardo sui tetti e in cielo;
ma quando vien lo sgelo
il primo sole è mio
il primo bacio dell’aprile è mio!
Germoglia in un vaso una rosa…
Foglia a foglia la spio!
Cosi gentile il profumo d’un fiore!
Ma i fior ch’io faccio,
Ahimè! non hanno odore.
Altro di me non le saprei narrare.
Sono la sua vicina che la vien fuori d’ora a importunare.