Thursday, November 04, 2010

Montserrat Caballe "Senza mamma"

Soprano Montserrat Caballe does a splendid job on the aria "Senza mamma" from Suor Angelica by Giacomo Puccini.

Suor Angelica (Sister Angelica) is the second in a group of three short operas by Puccini known as Il trittico (The Triptych). Suor Angelica begins with scenes of life in the convent. Three sisters confess their inmost desires: Sister Genevieve confesses that she wishes to see lambs again because she used to be a shepherdess when she was a girl, and Sister Dolcina wishes for something good to eat. Sister Angelica claims to have no desires. But Sister Angelica has lied: Her true desire is to hear from her wealthy, noble family, from whom she has not heard in seven years. The rumors have it that she was sent to the convent in punishment.

Soon after, a carriage arrives at the convent bearing the Princess, Sister Angelica's aunt. The Princess explains that Angelica's sister is to be married and that Angelica must sign a document renouncing her claim to her inheritance. Angelica replies that her only concern is for her illegitimate son who was taken from her seven years ago when she was sent by her family to the convent. At first, the Princess refuses to speak, but finally informs Sister Angelica that her son died from a fever two years ago. Sister Angelica, devastated, signs the document and collapses in tears. The Princess leaves.

Sister Angelica is seized by a heavenly vision — she believes she hears her son calling for her to meet him in paradise — and sings this aria:
You died without your mother, my baby--
Without my kisses on your lips.
My baby, you closed your lovely eyes.
Unable to caress me, you crossed your tiny hands on your chest.
And you died without knowing how fiercely your mother loved you.

Now you are an angel in heaven.
Now you can see your mother at last.
You can descend through the heavens.
I can feel you hovering about me.
You're here with me.
You kiss and caress me.

When will I be able to see you in heaven.
When will I be able to kiss you?
That moment will mark the end of all my pain.
When can I rise up to meet you?
When can I die?

Speak to your mother, lovely child.
Speak through the light of a flickering star.
Speak to me.

Eager to join her son, Angelica makes herself a poison and drinks it, but realizes that in committing suicide, she has committed a mortal sin and has damned herself to eternal separation from her son. She begs God for mercy and, as she dies, she sees a miracle: the Virgin Mary appears, along with Sister Angelica's son, who runs to embrace her.

Tragic opera at its best--and beautifully sung by Montserrat Caballe.

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