!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Marina Poplavskaya, soprano

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Marina Poplavskaya, soprano

A friend and I went to a local cineplex this afternoon to watch the simulcast of the Met's matinee performance of Turandot. The Franco Zeffirelli production, which dates to 1987, is lavish, as you would expect. There were unfortunate hiccups in the satellite transmission, but it was still very clear that Marina Poplavskaya, the Russian soprano playing the slave Liù, is a special talent.

Instead of a clip of Poplavskaya singing as Liù, something I think is not available outside of the Met's paid service, below is a 7:54 clip of the "Willow Song" from Act IV of Verdi's Otello, as Poplavskaya, playing Desdemona, sang it last year at the Salzburg Festival.

The scene is based on dialogue between Desdemona and Emilia in Scene 3 of Act 4 of Shakespeare's play. Barbara Di Castri plays the role of Emilia.

The clip has German subtitles. The original Italian lyrics and an edited English translation are reproduced beneath the clip.

Mia madre aveva una povera ancella
Innamorata e bella;
Era il suo nome
Barbara. Amava
Un uom che poi l'abbandonò, cantava
Una canzone: la canzon del Salice.

– Mi disciogli le chiome. –

Io questa sera ho la memoria piena
Di quella cantilena:
"Piangea cantando
Nell'erma landa,
Piangea la mesta.
O Salce! Salce! Salce!
Sedea chinando
Sul sen la testa!
O Salce! Salce! Salce!
Cantiamo! cantiamo! il Salce funebre
Sarà la mia ghirlanda."

– Affrettati; fra poce giunge Otello. –

"Scorreano i rivi fra le zolle in fior,
Gemea quel core affranto,
E dalle ciglia le sgorgava il cor
L'amara onda del pianto.
O Salce! Salce! Salce!
Cantiamo! cantiamo! il Salce funebre
Sarà la mia ghirlanda.
Scendean gli augelli a vol dai rami cupi
Verso quel dolce canto.
E gli occhi suoi piangevan tanto, tanto,
Da impietosir le rupi."
Riponi quest'anello.
Povera Barbara! Solea la storia
Con questo semplice suoono finir:
"Egli era nato per la sua gloria,
Io per amar..."
Ascolta. Odo un lamento.
Taci. Chi batte a quella porta?
– È il vento.
"Io per amarlo e per morir ...
Cantiamo! cantiamo!
Salce! Salce! Salce!"
Emilia, addio. Come m'ardon le ciglia!
È presagio di pianto. Buona notte.
Ah! Emilia, Emilia, addio, Emilia, addio!

My mother had a poor maid,
In love and beautiful;
Her name was
Barbara. She loved
A man who abandoned her, and she used to sing
A song: The Willow Song.

– Undo my hair. –

This evening my memory is filled
With that song:
"She wept, singing
On the lonely heath,
The sad girl wept.
O Willow! Willow! Willow!
She would sit with her head
Drooping on her bosom!
O Willow! Willow! Willow!
Let us sing! Let us sing! The mournful willow
Shall be my garland."

– Hurry; Othello is coming soon. –

"The brooks ran through the flowering fields,
That broken heart would moan,
And from her eyes her heart poured out
A bitter wave of tears.
O Willow! Willow! Willow!
Let us sing! Let us sing! The mournful willow
Shall be my garland.
The birds came flying down from the somber branches
Toward that sweet song.
And her eyes would weep so much, so much,
That the stones were filled with pity."

Put back this ring.

Poor Barbara! The story used to
End with this simple sound:
"He was born for his fame,
I was born to lo..."
Listen. I hear a lament.
Quiet. Who's knocking at the door?

– It's the wind. –

"I was born to love him and die ...
Let us sing! Let us sing!
Willow! Willow! Willow!"
Emilia, farewell. How my eyes burn!
That bodes weeping. Good night.
Ah! Emilia, Emilia, farewell, Emilia, farewell!

[Source: Famous Italian Opera Arias: A Dual Language Book, by Helen E. Bleiler (Dover, 1996), pp. 92-93]