Anvil Chorus

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The Anvil Chorus is the English name for the Coro di zingari (Italian for "Gypsy chorus"), a chorus from act 2, scene 1 of Giuseppe Verdi's 1853 opera Il trovatore. It depicts Spanish Gypsies striking their anvils at dawn – hence its English name – and singing the praises of hard work, good wine, and Gypsy women. The piece is also commonly known as Vedi! Le fosche notturne or simply Vedi! Le fosche.

Italian libretto and poetic English adaptation[edit]

Zingari e zingare:
Vedi! Le fosche notturne spoglie
De' cieli sveste l'immensa volta;
Sembra una vedova che alfin si toglie
i bruni panni ond'era involta.

All'opra! all'opra!
Dàgli, martella.

Chi del gitano i giorni abbella?
La zingarella!

Uomini:
Versami un tratto; lena e coraggio
Il corpo e l'anima traggon dal bere.

Tutti:
Oh guarda, guarda! del sole un raggio
Brilla più vivido nel mio [tuo] bicchiere!
All'opra, all'opra!
Dàgli, martella.

Chi del gitano i giorni abbella?
La zingarella![1]

Gypsy men and women:
See how the clouds melt away
from the face of the sky when the sun shines, its brightness beaming;
just as a widow, discarding her black robes,
shows all her beauty in brilliance gleaming.

So, to work now!
Lift up your hammers!

Who turns the Gypsy's day from gloom to brightest sunshine?
His lovely Gypsy maid!

Men:
Fill up the goblets! New strength and courage
flow from lusty wine to soul and body.

All:
See how the rays of the sun play and sparkle
and give to our wine gay new splendor.
So, to work now!
Lift up your hammers!

Who turns the Gypsy's day from gloom to brightest sunshine?
His lovely Gypsy maid!

In popular culture[edit]

  • Only a quarter-century after the premiere of Il trovatore, W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan musically spoofed the Anvil Chorus in "With Cat-like Tread", in their 1879 operetta, The Pirates of Penzance.
  • In the 1929 Marx Brothers film The Cocoanuts, Harpo and Chico play the Anvil Chorus on a hotel's cash register. In their next film, Animal Crackers, in 1930, Chico plays a segment on the piano while Harpo clangs two horseshoes together. Later, in 1935's A Night at the Opera, the chorus is sung as part of a performance of Il trovatore as the police and the opera's general manager chase after Harpo and Chico backstage and onstage.
  • In the film Bad Santa, the chorus is played as Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) uses a sledgehammer to crack open a safe.
  • In the show Animaniacs, the melody is referred to in the middle of the song Let the Anvils Ring in the episode King Yakko.
    • The melody was also depicted throughout a good portion of an episode of the same name in the show Tiny Toons Adventures.
  • In the episode "One Froggy Throat" of the show The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries, Sylvester tries to use Michigan J. Frog to replace an opera singer into performing the chorus.

References[edit]