Middle English Word of the Moment

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Catalogue Aria

Because, though non-mediaeval, this is the most amazing Mozart production I have ever seen (white trash Leporello! Don Giovanni who is emotionally affected!). And therefore I am forcing a friend to watch this link. And it is subtitle-less, and she does not speak Italian, and therefore:

[Donna Elvira, formerly seduced and abandoned by Giovanni, has shown up unexpectedly. He, rather disconcerted, shoved her off onto his servant Leporello, with a hasty "here, this man will explain everything!" and ran away, leaving Leporello even more disconcerted. Or, in this production, leaped onto the bus shelter roof to hide. Libretto is from memory, so may vary from strictly accurate.]

Ebben, fa presto.
Well, get on with it.

Madama, veramente, in questo mondo conciossiacosaquandofosseche... il quadro non è tondo -
Madam, to tell you the truth, in this world, withwhenwherehowwaswhat... a square isn't a circle -

Sciagurato! Così del mio dolor gioco ti prendi? A, voi -
Scoundrel! Are you [familiar] mocking my grief? Ah, you [formal], sir -

[She turns and notices Don Giovanni has vanished.

Stelle! L'iniquo fuggì! Misera me! Dove? In qual parte?
Heavens! The wicked man has gone! Woe! Where? Which way did he go?

Ehi, lasciate che vada. Egli non merta che voi di lui pensiate.
Oh, let him go. He's not worth your attention.

Il scellerato m'ingannò, mi tradì -
The villain deceived me, betrayed me -

Ehi, consolatevi. Non siete voi, non foste e non sarete ne la prima, ne l'ultima. Guardate:
Look, calm down. You aren't, weren't and won't be the first or the last. Look:

[Usually, he produces a giant volume in which he has noted down every woman that his master has conquered. Here? He points to the bus timetable - which presumably includes the names of many towns (countries?). But does this mean that he's making it up? Don Giovanni doesn't look too impressed!]

Questo non picciol libro è tutto pieno dei nomi di sue belle. Ogni borgo, ogni villa, ogni paese, è testimon di sue donnesche imprese.
This not inconsiderable volume is full of the names of his beloveds. Every town, every city, every country is witness to his womanly conquests.


Madamina, il catalogo è questo
Little lady, this is the catalogue
Delle belle che amò il padron mio.
Of the beauties my master has loved.
Un catalogo egl'è ch'ho fatt'io;
It's a catalogue I've made myself;
Osservate, leggete con me,
Osservate, leggete con me!
Observe: read with me!

In Italia 640,
In Almagnia 231,
100 in Francia, in Turchia 91,
Ma in Ispagna, ma in Ispagna son già 1003.
But in Spain, 1003 already!

V'han fra queste contadin, cavaliere, cittadine,
Among these are peasant lasses, ladies, city girls,
V'han contesse, baronesse, marchesane, principesse,
Countesses, baronesses, marchionesses, princesses,
E v'han donne d'ogni grado, d'ogni forma, d'ogni età.
And ladies of every rank, every shape, every age.

In Italia [etc]... 1003.

Nella bionda egli ha l'usanza di lodar la gentilezza
With the blonde, he usually praises her gentility,
Nella bruna la costanza, nella bianca la dolcezza
With brunette, her constancy; in the very fair, sweetness,
Vuol d'inverno la grassotta, vuol d'estate la magrotta,
In winter he wants chubby ones, in summer the slender,
È la grande maestoso, la piccina è ognor vezzosa.
He calls large ladies majestic, and small ones charming.

Delle vecchie fa conquista pel piacer di porle in lisa.
He conquers some old women, for the pleasure of adding them to the list.
Sua passion predominante è la giovin principiante.
His dominating passion is the young beginner.

Non si picca se sia ricca, se sia brutta, se sia bella:
He isn't picky - if she's rich, if she's ugly, if she's beautiful,
Purchè porti la gonnella - voi sapete quel che fa!
So long as she wears a skirt - well, you know what he does!


Random fact for the day. Mozart's librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte, was having trouble getting a feel for the psychology of Don Giovanni. So he dropped by to visit his friend Casanova for advice! Some people feel this was unreasonable - da Ponte was nearly as much of an expert as Casanova.

Also, I believe the original actor of Don Giovanni was 21, which makes the total even more impressive.


Lady Despenser's Scribery said...

All I can say is: Go Don Giovanni! Must be one tired young man!

I've never seen this opera so thanks for the link, and, more importantly, for the translation, otherwise I wouldn't have had a clue other than thinking it was 3 tired and drunk people waiting for a bus ;-)

Ceirseach said...

I think Donna Elvira could do with getting drunk, poor lady.

But yes, what with the seducing, the running away from seducees and the duels with lovers/fahters/husbands/brothers of the seduced, he must be burning an enormous amount of energy every week.

Anonymous said...


Just saying hello while I read through the posts

hopefully this is just what im looking for, looks like i have a lot to read.