Sarah Brightman -- O mio babbino caro (Gianni Schicchi)

O mio babbino caro,
mi piace è bello, bello;
vo'andare in Porta Rossa
a comperar l'anello!
Sì, sì, ci voglio andare!
e se l'amassi indarno,
andrei sul Ponte Vecchio,
ma per buttarmi in Arno!
Mi struggo e mi tormento!
O Dio, vorrei morir!

Babbo, pietà, pietà!
Babbo, pietà, pietà!

Music: Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)
Lyrics: Giovacchino Forzano

From: Timeless (1997).
A later recored studio version appears on: Classics (2001) and Classics - European release (2006), and on Amalfi: Sarah Brightman love songs (2010). This version has the same lyrics [thanks to Bruno Deschênes and Gábor Tocsik for info].
A previous recording appeared on the B-side of the 1987 single Doretta's dream.

Source of the lyrics: thanks to Carlos Edmar de Almeida Souza and Giovanni Molinari.
The sixth line has "e se l'amassi indarno". The word "indarno" is not used in modern day Italy, and at first sight it may seem incorrect. But "indarno" did exist in Puccini's time, so it is in place here. [Thanks to Jack Divita for pointing this out; thanks to Giovanni Battisti for the original comment.]

Carlos also sent me the following English translation (with thanks to Felicia M. Plunkett for a correction):

Oh dear daddy

Oh dear daddy
I love him, he is so handsome
I want to go to Porta Rossa
to buy the ring
Yes, yes, I want to go there
And if my love were in vain
I would go to Ponte Vecchio
and throw myself in the Arno
I fret and suffer torments
Oh God, I would rather die
Daddy, have pity, have pity


Background of the aria

The aria is from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, which my encyclopedia describes as brilliant humoristic.
The soprano B.J. Ward sings this aria on her CD Queen of the Night and the CD booklet says about the aria:
In this aria, Lauretta begs her 'Babbo' (her Daddy) to please let her marry her boyfriend. If not, she says, 'I'll go to the Ponte Vecchio and throw myself in the river.' What's a father to do?
Thanks to Mike King for this info.
Ying sent me later the following description of the story:
Buoso Donati has died and Rinuccio asks his aunt Zita, now head of the family, for permission to marry Lauretta, the daughter of Gianni Schcchi, providing the terms of Buoso's will are favourable. Lauretta pleads with her father to allow the marriage to take place, saying if she cannot marry Rinuccio she will go to the Ponte Vecchio and throw herself into the river Arno. After much subterfuge, all is resolved and the lovers are free to declare their love for each other and marry.
Jack Divita wrote that "Gianni Schicchi was not the primary cause of denial of the marriage of Rinuccio and Lauretta. It was the Donati family", and supplied a more accure description:
Buoso Donati, who was the head of the aristocratic Donati family, has died. When the family finds out his will leaves everything to the monastery, Rinuccio's aunt Zita, now head of the family, denies him permission to marry Lauretta, the daughter of Gianni Schicchi, without a dowry. Rinuccio then asks the clever Gianni Schicchi to come up with a solution. However, the Donati family gets nasty with Gianni Schicchi because he is not an aristocrat and does not offer a dowry (he may not have it). Gianni Schicchi angrily takes Lauretta and starts to leave.
Lauretta pleads with her father to facilitate the marriage by examining the will and finding a way around it, singing if she cannot marry Rinuccio she will go to the Ponte Vecchio and throw herself into the river Arno. Gianni Schicchi then pretends to be Buoso on his death bed and dictates a new will to a notary. Although he dictates a will that benefits the Donati, he makes himself a major heir also, negating the need for Donati approval of the marriage. Rinuccio and Lauretta can now marry.
By the way, the words "ponte vecchio" mean "old bridge" [thanks to Tacincala Hidaka]. The bridge the story refers to is of course the famous bridge in Florence (Firenze), Italy.


Charlotte Church's version

The aria is also sung by Charlotte Church on her second album Charlotte Church (1999). The booklet of that CD gives the lyrics as shown above, except for some of the interpuction.
Originally I had "comparar" in the fourth line, as that is what Sarah seems to sing, while Charlotte's CD-booklet gives "comperar", and that is also what Charlotte sings, but the sound of it. Brian Johnston pointed out that "a comparar l'anello" means "to compare the ring", whereas "a comperar l'anello" means "to buy the ring". In view of what the song is about, as given by the translation, it is clear that it should be "comperar".

By the way:
The CD-booklet of Sarah's Timeless only mentions "Puccini", whereas the booklet of Charlotte's CD gives Puccini a first name and gives also a name for the lyricist. Also, the CD-booklet of Sarah's Timeless spells the name of the opera the aria comes from wrongly as "Schicci"; it is spelled correctly in Charlotte's CD-booklet.
[Thanks to Helen Goshulak for info.]

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last modified: 30 September 2010