O MIO BABBINO CARO
now you have no excuse not to watch it.
I was kinda obsessed with it a couple weeks ago (what can I say? it was the week of the opera @ my school). I’ve toned it down a bit, but I haven’t gotten over how good the song is.
the recording itself is awesome, simply because it’s sung by maria callas (who doesn’t love her? she is the opera singer of the 20th century). there are more famous recordings (ex: by montserrat cabelle), but I think there’s something distinct about this recording by maria that infuses into the life/composer’s intention of this song.
a bit of background information: it’s from the opera Gianni Schicchi by
Giacomo Puccini (I find the similarity in name & opera extremely amusing). It’s sung by Lauretta after rising tensions between her father (Schicchi) & the family of the boy she loves (Rinuccio is his name) threaten to separate the two young lovers forever.
the whole song reminds me of how romeo & juliet-esque it is. the overarching conflict is rooted in the fact that the two families of the pair hate each other because of their differences in status (Lauretta’s family is new to the town so Rinuccio’s family dislikes them & Lauretta’s family probably thinks Rinuccio’s family is a bunch of stuck-up, snobby people), which corresponds a lot with the hatred the capulets & montagues have because of long-standing family beef.
the lyrics are interesting, too, also echoing themes from shakespeare’s most famous tragedy (although some argue it’s a satire, which I kind of agree with, but that’s another topic for another day). Lauretta sings “I like him [Rinuccio], he is so handsome,” which (besides the fact that it sounds a bit shallow for a few forthcoming lines) references the idea of physical characteristics causing two people to fall in love. That sounds a lot like the instant, love-at-first-sight kind of deal for romeo & juliet
Lauretta also sings “And if I were to love him in vain, I would go to Ponte Vecchio and throw myself in the Arno.” I can only assume the Arno she refers to is the Arno River in northern Italy (this opera is in Italian, after all), and for her to declare her resolve to drown herself in a river because of love goes back again to the idea of if love can’t be achieved in this lifetime, it might as well be achieved in another lifetime (in heaven/the afterlife). It also gives off vibes of if love cannot be attained, there is no point in living anymore (if not love, then death), hence the reference to a possible suicide.
of course, I don’t think the intention was to romanticize suicide nor death; instead, I think it was a nudge to the passion & intensity of love, particularly for the youths, especially considering how emotionally-packed “O Mio Babbino Caro” is. i was reading the comments below the video, and one viewer remarked that maria callas sounded like she would actually drown herself in a river, which i think is the intention of the composer–to display a vivid picture of what love means & how much it’s worth chasing after for someone in her most bright & passionate years.
okay, i’m done rambling.
thank you all for coming to my ted talk.