Baroque opera ariasIf you have an image of the Baroque era as one of refined gentility, think again. It was a time of highwaymen and cutpurses, courtesans and criminals, wars and uncertainty, fortunes gained and lost overnight in the new speculative markets. And Baroque opera reflected the turmoil of its time. Its beautifully melodic arias often express the rawest of emotions:
lust, anguish, fear, or the pain of a lovers rejection. As examples here are the texts of four arias, one each from the operas of Monteverdi, Purcell, Vivaldi and Handel. (Mouse over the arias in Italian to see an English translation.) From Monteverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea (1642), Pur ti miro: I gaze at you,
Press you to me,
No more pain,
No more death,
O my life, my darling. From Purcell's Dido & Aeneas (1689), Ah! Belinda, I am pressd / With torment: Ah, Belinda, I am pressd,
With torment not to be confessd,
Peace and I are strangers grown,
I languish til my grief is known,
Yet would not have it guessd. From Vivaldi's Farnace (1727), Gelido in ogni vena: I feel my blood like ice
Coursing through every vein.
The shade of my lifeless son
Afflicts me with terror.
And to make my agony worse,
I see that I was cruel
To an innocent soul,
To my hearts beloved. From Handel's Alcina (1735), Ah! mio cor: Oh, my heart! You are scorned!
You stars and gods, God of Love!
Traitor, I love you so much;
How can you leave me alone and in tears,
Oh, you gods, why?
I love you so much!