24 February 2011 at 12.15pm | Comment on this article
Accessible arias: Footage of famous arias, with subtitles in the original language and translation.
Ecco ridente in cielo
Act 1 of Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia/ Barber of Seville,
the Count serenades Rosina
CONTEXT: At the start of The Barber of Seville, the curtain rises on a motley group of people in an empty street as dawn breaks. They’re musicians, hired by a young student (who apparently has means) to accompany him as he sings under the window of the girl he loves. A classically romantic gesture.
This cavatina is the song in question; and it also proves a classic of ‘bel canto’ style, with all the graceful, flowing beauty that the term implies. It opens with a pizzicato solo for guitar, paired gently with orchestral strings and woodwind who between them introduce the tune. This tune then passes to the student as he calls in a light, agile tenor for his girl to wake as dawn arises in the smiling sky (ridente in cielo).
With a sudden shift of mood, the tempo quickens as he thinks he may have glimpsed her through the window, and declares his love. And in this second section of the number, all its previous, laconic elegance heats into a fierce but (as bel canto style demands) controlled excitement, busy with embellished runs and other decoration. It’s in every sense a vocal calling card – with an exquisite sense of line and formal beauty that betrays the elevated status of this ‘student’. Far from being what he seems, he’s actually a Spanish nobleman: a count - though, as the plot unfolds, his ancestry won’t make his wooing any easier.
LISTEN: Juan Diego Flórez sings Ecco ridente in cielo in Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s production of Il barbiere di Siviglia/The Barber of Seville. Excerpt from a Radio 3 recording, 10 July 2010.
LYRICS: In the original Italian, as sung on stage, and in their English translation.
|Ecco ridente in cielo spunta la bella aurora,
e tu non sorgi ancora e puoi dormir così?
Sorgi, mia dolce speme,
vieni, bell’idol mio,
rendi men crudo, oh dio! lo stral,
lo stral che mi ferì,Oh sorte! già veggo.
quel caro sembiante:
quest’anima amante ottenne pietà.Oh istante d’amore!
Oh dolce contento che eguale non ha.
|The beautiful dawn is breaking,
and you just carry on sleeping?
Wake up my beautiful hope,
come, beautiful idol of mine,
take away the pain, oh god!,
of the arrow which pierces me.Oh luck! I can now see
the sweet image
of that loving soul is merciful.Oh this moment of love!
Oh happy moment!
Oh sweet content that has no equal.
Composer: Rossini. Libretto: Cesare Sterbini after the play'Le barbier de Seville by Pierre-Augustin Beaumarchais. Discover more about The Barber of Seville/Il barbiere di Siviglia: 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. Photo: Bill Cooper