This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Saturday Rave: Oblivion soave by Giovanni Francesco Busenello

The opera The Coronation of Poppea is usually said to be written by Monteverdi. And some, and probably most, of the glorious music of the opera was.

But what of the story? Well, that was definitely written by Giovanni Francesco Busenello.

 Artist's representation of a man looking straight out of the picture, with dark receding hair and pointed beard. He is wearing dark clothing with a loose white collar.

The plot of Poppea has been described as one in which virtue is punished and greed rewarded, which does make a refreshing change for everybody. The opera is set in Rome, at the court of the emperor Nero. When it was first performed, in Venice in 1643, the Venetians were rather worried about Rome getting too big for its boots, so a tale about Nero's dodgy mistress was bound to be popular. The story also a twist, not in the tail exactly but after the tail, because the happy ending of the opera was followed in real life by tragedies of which Poppea's audience would have been all too aware.

Here's a lullaby from the opera, Oblivion soave:

Adagiati, Poppea,
acquietati, amina mia,
Sarai ben custodita.

Oblivion soave
i dolci sentimenti
in te, figlia, addormenti.

Posatevi, occhi ladri:
aperti, deh, che fate,
se chiusi ancor rubate?

Poppea, rimanti in pace;
luci care e gradite,
dormite homai dormite.

Lie down, Poppea,
rest, my heart.
You shall be well guarded.

Let gentle oblivion
lull your tender feelings
to sleep, my child.

Close, heart-stealing eyes:
what can you do when open,
if closed you can still steal hearts?

Poppea, sleep in peace;
eyes so dear and sweet,
go to sleep, now, sleep.

Word To Use Today: opera. This word is Italian and is the plural of the Latin opus, which means work. Opera can also be the plural of opus in English, too.

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