José Lemos Countertenor "E pur io torno" (Monteverdi)





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Uploaded on Jan 30, 2012




I chose this particular painting by Bronzino to accompany José Lemos' spellbinding interpretation of Ottone's arioso, because the young man holding the statuette of a Greek goddess is one that I find highly allegorical. He "possesses" beauty, but in an abstract manner; the goddess herself does not "belong" to him. This correlates, in my mind, to Ottone, Poppea's jilted paramour who reflects on his continuing love at the beginning of the arioso, which gives way to his horror and revulsion when he catches sight of two of Nero's soldiers standing guard, thus realizing that Nero and Poppea are together.

E pur io torno qui, qual linea al centro,
Qual foco a sfera e qual ruscello al mare,
E se ben luce alcuna non m'appare,
Ah! so ben io, che sta'l mio sol qui dentro.

Caro tetto amoroso,
Albergo di mia vita, e del mio bene,
Il passo e'l cor ad inchinarti viene.

Apri un balcon, Poppea!
Col bel viso in cui son le sorti mie,
Previeni, anima mia, precorri il die.

Sorgi, e disgombra omai,
Da questo ciel caligini, e tenebre
Con il beato aprir di tue palpebre

Sogni, portate a volo,
Su l'ali vostre in dolce fantasia
Questi sospir alla diletta mia.

Ma che veggio, infelice?
Non già fantasmi o pur notturne larve,
Son questi i servi di Nerone? ahi, ahi dunque
Agl' insensati venti
Io diffondo i lamenti.
Necessito le pietre a deplorarmi.
Adoro questi marmi,
Amoreggio con lagrime un balcone,
E in grembo di Poppea dorme Nerone

And yet I still come back, like a line to the centre,
like fire to its sphere, like a river to the ocean;
and even though no light is visible,
ah, well I know that herein is my sun.

Dear home of my affections,
the dwelling of my very life, my treasure,
my steps bend hither, and my heart pays homage.

Open a balcony window, Poppea!
Let the lovely face that rules my fate
herald and anticipate the dawn, my love.

Arise and chase away
the darkness and the shadows from the sky
by the blessed opening of your eyes.

Dreams, upon swift pinions bear
in sweetest fantasy
these sighs to my beloved.

But what do I see, unhappy man?
No phantoms, no night-prowling ghosts,
can these be Nero's guards? Alas,
am I then uttering my complaints
to the unfeeling winds?
Shall I compel the stones to share my grief?
Must I worship these marble columns,
bathe a balcony with lover's tears
while Nero nestles in Poppea's arms?

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