Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ebben! (Or perhaps I shouldn't have looked it up)

Since my friend Yuan gave me a copy of Cafe del Mar Aria 2, I've loved this aria. I'm not sure how opera lovers would react to this modernized version (composed, conducted and produced by Paul Schwartz, performed by Isobel Griffiths) -- they might very well retch and gag and swear. So I looked up the opera from which it came.

La Wally by Alfredo Catalani, it turns out, is about Wally, a young woman from the mountain village of Tyrol, who is forced by her father into a marriage she does not want. Instead of favoring Gellner, her betrothed, she falls in love with the minstrel Hagenbach. In the last Act she sings Ebben? Ne andro lontana as she leaves her home in the mountains forever. The track above has always struck me as joyous and euphoric - whenever I listen to it I feel like singing along (but of course I can't) and I sort of imagine myself in a cheesy "The hills are alive with the sound of music" sort of scenery - so imagine my surprise when I read that in the opera, Wally later on throws herself into a passing avalanche. Yikes. Remind me never to attempt to sing along to this when I'm up in the mountains. Brrr, knee-weakening imagery, that. (Read more about the plot here - it's much more complicated than I described. At some point Wally actually asks Gellner to kill Hagenbach, Gellner pushes the latter into a ravine, Hagenbach survives, Wally goes and rescues him because no one else in the village would, and so on and so forth.)

Check out this page for the lyrics and English translation of the aria. Below is a more classical version sung by Sarah Jenkins.

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