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Alessandro Moreschi lyrics

Today is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Alessandro Nilo Angelo Moreschi, known in his lifetime as 'The Angel of Rome' and more commonly today as 'The Last Castrato'.

I shall be celebrating this evening by listening to all of the recordings which he made (in 1902 and 1904) with the attention they deserve and a glass of wine in my hand. But I am also marking the event here by posting the lyrics for those recordings, in the original languages as he sang them and with parallel English translations. The items are presented in the same order as that found on the OPAL CD, Alessandro Moreschi: The Last Castrato, since I know that that is the recording most people have of his repertoire. However, if you enjoy Moreschi's voice, I would really recommend that you purchase a copy of the Truesound version of his recordings, which has been cleaned up much more effectively than the OPAL one, and also includes a number of extra recordings made by other members of the Sistine Chapel Choir at the same time.

All translations are my own, although help which I received with the Palestrina madrigal, La Cruda Mia Nemica, is credited below. I have aimed for literal, rather than poetic, translations, with the intention being simply to help listeners understand the meaning of the songs Moreschi recorded.

Happy birthday, il mio angelo, and long may you be continue to be remembered.



Giovanni Aldega, Domine salvum fac
(Solo with piano and choir)
Domine, salvum fac Pontificem nostrum Leonem
Et exaudi nos in die, qua invocaverimus te.
Oremus.
Lord, preserve our Pope Leo [the Thirteenth], and heed us on that day when we call upon you. We pray.


Luigi Pratesi, Et Incarnatus Est / Crucifixus
(Solo, choir joining at end)
Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine: Et homo factus est.
Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato: passus, et sepultus est.
And he was made incarnate from the Holy Spirit through the Virgin Mary: and he was made man.
He was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilatus: he suffered, and he was buried.


F. Paolo Tosti, Ideale (1882)
(Solo with piano)
Io ti seguii com'iride di pace
Lungo le vie del cielo:
Io ti seguii come un'amica face
De la notte nel velo.
E ti senti ne la luce ne l'aria,
Nel profumo dei fiori;
E fu piena la stanza solitaria
Di te, dei tuoi splendori.

In te rapito, al suon de la tua voce
Lungamente sognai;
E de la terra ogni affanno, ogni croce
Inquelgiorno scordai

Torna, caro ideal,
Torna un istante a sorridermi ancora,
E a me risplendera nel tuo sembiante
Una novell'aurora, una novella aurora.

Torna, caro ideal, torna, torna.
I followed you like a rainbow of peace
Along the roads of the sky:
I followed you like a friend made
Of the night in a veil.
And I felt you in the light, in the air
In the perfume of flowers;
And my lonely room was filled
Of you, of your splendours.

I am caught up in you, in the sound of your voice
Dreamt from afar;
And of the earth every worry, every cross
I forgot on that day.

Return, beloved ideal,
Return for a moment to make me smile again,
And on me will shine in your presence
A new dawn, a new dawn.

Return, beloved ideal, return, return.


Salvatore Meluzzi, Ave Verum Corpus
(Full choir with piano)
Ave verum corpus natum
de Maria Virgine;
vere passum immolatum
in cruce pro homine,
cuius latus perforatum
unda fluxit et sanguine;
esto nobis praegustatum
mortis in examine.
Hail the true body born
of the Virgin Mary;
truly suffered, sacrificed
on the cross for man,
whose perforated side
flowed with a wave and blood;
let it be for us a foretaste
in the agony of death.


Gustavo E. Stehle, Tui Sunt Coeli
(Full choir with piano)
Tui sunt coeli, et tua est terra: orbem terrarum et plenitudinem eius tu fundasti: iustitia et iudicium praeparatio sedis tuae. Yours are the heavens and yours is the earth: you established the orb of the earth and its abundance: justice and judgement are the forerunners of your throne.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ave Verum Corpus (1791; K 618)
(Full choir with piano)

Obviously this is basically the same text as the Meluzzi Ave Verum, above, but the word order in the last line can change slightly for this text, and in fact it does between these two versions.
Ave verum corpus natum
de Maria Virgine;
vere passum immolatum
in cruce pro homine,
cuius latus perforatum
unda fluxit et sanguine;
esto nobis praegustatum
in mortis examine.
Hail the true body born
of the Virgin Mary;
truly suffered, sacrificed
on the cross for man,
whose perforated side
flowed with a wave and blood;
let it be for us a foretaste
in the agony of death.


Gioacchino Rossini, Crucifixus (1863)
(Solo with piano, plus harmonium in the second recording only)
Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato: passus, et sepultus est. He was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilatus: he suffered, and he was buried.


Ignace Xavier Joseph Leibach (Leybach), Pie Jesu (versetto from the Dies Irae)
(Solo with piano and harmonium)
Pie Jesu Domine,
dona eis requiem.
Amen.
Pious Lord Jesus,
give him peace.
Amen.


Eugenio Terziani, Hostias et Preces
(Solo with piano and harmonium)
Hostias et preces tibi, Domine, laudis offerimus.
Tu suscipe pro animabus illis, quarum hodie memoriam facimus:
fac eas, Domine, de morte transire ad vitam.
Sacrifices and prayers of praise, Lord, we offer to you.
Accept them for the spirits of those whom we remember today:
Make them, Lord, pass over from death to life.


F. Paolo Tosti, Preghiera
(Solo with piano)
Alla mente confusa
Di dubbio e di dolore
Soccorri, o mio Signore,
Col raggio della fé.

Sollevala dal peso
Che la declina al fango:
A te sospiro e piango,
Mi raccomando a te.

Sai che la vita mia
Si strugge appoco appoco,
Come la cera al foco,
Come la neve al sol.

All'anima che anela
Di ricovrarti in braccio
Rompi, Signore, il laccio
Che le impedisce il vol.

Signor, pietà!
To the mind confused
By doubt and sorrow
You give succour, Oh my Lord,
With the beam of faith.

Lift it from the weight
That pulls it to the mud:
To you I sigh and I cry,
I commend myself to you.

You know that my life
Consumes itself bit by bit
Like wax in a furnace,
Like snow in the sun.

To the spirit that gasps
To welcome you in embrace
Break, Lord, the noose
That impedes it from flight.

Lord, have mercy!


Charles F. Gounod, Ave Maria (arr. 1859 after Johann S. Bach Prelude no 1 in C, BWV 846)
(Solo with piano and violin)
Ave Maria
Gratia plena
Dominus tecum
Benedicta tu
in mulieribus
Et benedictus
fructus ventris tui, Jesus.

Sancta Maria,
Sancta Maria
Ora pro nobis peccatoribus
Nunc et in hora mortis nostrae.
Amen, Amen.
Hail Mary
Full of grace
The Lord is with you
Blessed are you
amongst women
And blessed is
the fruit of your womb, Jesus

Holy Mary,
Holy Mary,
Pray for us sinners
Now and at the hour of our death.
Amen, Amen.


Gregorian chant: Incipit Lamentatio (Medicean Breviary, Tone VI. Lectio I, Tenebrae, Holy Thursday)
(Solo a cappella)
Incipit lamentatio Ieremiae prophetae.

ALEPH: Quomodo sedet sola civitas plena populo; facta est quasi vidua domina Gentium; princeps provinciarum facta est sub tributo.

BETH: Plorans ploravit in nocte, et lacrimae eius in maxillis eius: non est qui consoletur eam ex omnibus caris eius: omnes amici eius spreverunt eam, et facti sunt ei inimici.

HETH: Facti sunt hostes eius in capite, inimici illius locupletati sunt; quia Dominus locutus est super eam propter multitudinem iniquitatum eius.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum.
Here begins the lamentation of the prophet Jeremiah.

A: How does the city full with people sit alone; she is made as a widow, the mistress of Peoples; the chief of provinces is subjected to tribute.

B: Weeping she wept in the night, and her tears were on her cheeks: none is there who comforts her among all her beloveds: all her friends have scorned her, and are become her enemies.

E: Her foes are placed at the head, her enemies are enriched; because the Lord has pronounced judgement over her on account of the multitude of her transgressions.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return to your Lord God.


Gaetano Capocci, Gloria, Laudamus te, and Gratias agimus (from Messa di San Bonaventura)
(Choir with trio of soloists: Dado (Bass), Boezi (Tenor), Moreschi)
Choir: Gloria in excelsis Deo. Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.

Trio: Laudamus te, benedicimus te, adoramus te, glorificamus te.
Choir: Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. (reprieve)

Solo: Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam.
Choir: Gloria in excelsis Deo. (reprieve)
Choir: Glory to God in the highest. And on earth peace to all men of good will.

Trio: We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you.
Choir: And on earth peace to all men of good will.

Solo: We give thanks to you on account of your great glory.
Choir: Glory to God in the highest.


Tomas Luis de Victoria (Vittoria), Popule meus (Improperia) (1585; from Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae: Tenebrae Responsories)
(Choir without accompaniment)

The original version of this text is in both Latin and Greek. I have represented the Greek with italics, but it is transliterated into Roman lettering because I can be sure that this will display properly on all browsers, and it is also easier for most people to read. In the English version, the phrases translated from Greek are also represented in Italics. The Latin and Greek texts in any case only repeat each other, so that in the English translation it appears that everything is being said twice.
Versiculus: Popule meus, quid feci tibi? Aut in quo contristavi te? Responde mihi.
Responsorius: Hagios o Theos. Sanctus Deus. Hagios Ischyros. Sanctus Fortis. Hagios Athanatos, eleison hymas. Sanctus et Immortalis, miserere nobis.
Versicle: My people, what have I done to you? Or in what area have I afflicted you? Answer me.
Response: Oh Holy God! Oh Holy God! Oh Holy Almighty! Oh Holy Almighty! Oh Holy Immortal, have mercy upon us! Oh Holy Immortal, have mercy upon us!


Gianni Pierluigi da Palestrina, La Cruda Mia Nemica (1586)
(Quartet SATB, unaccompanied)

I owe thanks to chalumeaux for helping me to track down this text, and to miss_next and two members of the linguaphiles community for helping me to translate it.
La cruda mia nemica
Del mio dolor si pasce
E si nutrica:
Perchè ta l’hor sì pia
La veggio al mi languire
Che par mi udir la dire
Spera ch’in breve finirà il tormento
E poscia in un momento
Veggendomi contento
Mi si mostra sì ria
Ch’ancide il fior de la speranza mia
Ond’è forza ch’io dica
La cruda mia nemica
Del mio dolor si pasce
E si nutrica.
My cruel enemy
Grazes on my pain
And feeds herself
Because sometimes I see her
So kindly disposed to my suffering
That I seem to hear her say
“Hope that soon the torment will finish”
And then in a moment
Seeing me content
She shows herself so scornful
That it kills the flower of my hope
So that I am bound to say
My cruel enemy
Grazes on my pain
And feeds herself


Emilio Calzanera, Oremus Pro Pontifice
(Solo leading choir, piano and harmonium)
Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Pio.
Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra,
Et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius.
Oremus.
We pray for our Pope, Pius [the Tenth].
Lord conserve him, and make him live, and make him blessed on this earth,
And do not hand him over to the spirit of his enemies.
We pray.


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Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
megamole
Nov. 11th, 2008 11:29 am (UTC)
"Agios o Theos, agios iskhyros, agios athanatos" is a standard Orthodox formula often known as the Trisagion.
megamole
Nov. 11th, 2008 11:32 am (UTC)
It got lifted wholesale into the Latin liturgy at various points, and Greek sometimes appears in Mass settings, especially with farced Kyries.
kissmeforlonger
Nov. 13th, 2008 12:52 pm (UTC)
On a completely different note, I thought you'd probably heard about this and would post on it: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7725560.stm

Fab resource particularly for someone with your particular interests.
strange_complex
Nov. 13th, 2008 02:38 pm (UTC)
Yes, it's been all over the place. I'll have a proper look at it over the weekend.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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