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Accessible arias: Dove sono i bei momenti

By Emma Beatty (Former Features Editor)

10 February 2011 at 3.00pm | 2 Comments

Accessible arias: One of a new series of posts to bring you the words to some of opera’s most famous solo pieces – arias, in their original language and in translation.

Dove sono i bei momenti

Act III of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro/The Marriage of Figaro, the Countess laments her mistreatment by the Count and recalls their once sweet romance.

CONTEXT: The Countess and Susanna are plotting to catch out the Count in his extra-marital pursuits: a plot that involves the complications of switching clothes and identities in a garden under cover of night. In a moment by herself, the Countess reflects on what her life has come to – humiliated by a cheating husband and forced to take these desperate measures, with the help of her own servants, to expose him.

These bitter considerations fill the introductory recitative that sets the scene. Then comes the aria proper in which the Countess asks: Where are (dove sono) the moments of joy and pleasure I used to know in marriage? And now they’re gone, why do I cling to the memory of them? If only my constant love could win my husband back.

The second of two celebrated arias for the Countess in this opera, Dove sono is the complaint of a woman who finds herself alone in a broken relationship and at risk of losing her dignity. Except that Mozart intervenes by giving her this most dignified of laments: a song of tender but controlled beauty that maintains its self-possession. And, however vague, the possibility of hope.

LISTEN: Dorothea Röschmann sings ‘Dove sono i bei momenti’  from Le nozze di Figaro/The Marriage of Figaro. Excerpt from a BBC recording of David McVicar’s recent Royal Opera House production

THE LYRICS: In the original Italian, as sung on stage, and in their English translation.

Dove sono
i bei momenti
di dolcezza e di piacer?
Dove andaro i giuramenti
di quel labbro menzogner,
di quel labbro menzogner?Perché mai se
in pianti e in pene
per me tutto si cangiò,
per me tutto si cangiò,
la memoria di quel bene
dal mio sen non trapassò?
la memoria di quel bene
non trapassò?

Dove sono
i bei momenti
di dolcezza e di piacer?
Dove andaro i giuramenti
di quel labbro menzogner?

Ah! se almen
la mia costanza
nel languire amando ognor,
mi portasse una speranza
di cangiar l’ingrato cor!

Where have they gone,
my beautiful moments
of sweetness and of pleasure?
Where did all the sweet promises go,
uttered by those lying lips?
uttered by those lying lips?Why should it be that
if to tears and pain
now everything has changed
now everything has changed
that the memory of that
golden moment will not fade?
the memory of that golden moment
will not fade?

Where have they gone,
my beautiful moments
of sweetness and of pleasure?
Where did all the sweet promises go,
uttered by those lying lips?

Ah! At least
my constant heart
still loves this pain,
may it bring m some hope
of changing his ungrateful heart!

Composer: Mozart. Libretto: Da Ponte. Discover more about Le nozze di Figaro:  synopsis, characters, context text, full details of current production.

Credits: Intro text: Michael White, score by Ricordi, as sung on stage, translations: Emma Beatty/Michele Bona

By Emma Beatty (Former Features Editor)

10 February 2011 at 3.00pm

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged Accessible Arias, David Mcvicar, Dorothea Roschmann, Le nozze di Figaro, lyrics, marriage of figaro, mozart, Production, The Royal Opera