La Mantovana

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For the singer nicknamed "La Mantovana", see Anna Girò.

La Mantovana or "Il Ballo di Mantova" (Mantua Dance) is a popular sixteenth-century song attributed to the Italian tenor Giuseppe Cenci, also known as Giuseppino del Biado, (d. 1616)[1] to the text "Fuggi, Fuggi, Fuggi da questo cielo". Its earliest known appearance in print is in Biado's collection of madrigals of the year 1600. The melody, later also known as Ballo di Mantova and Aria di Mantova, gained a wide popularity in Renaissance Europe, being recorded variously as the Scottish My mistress is prettie, the Polish Pod Krakowem, the Spanish Virgen de la Cueva and the Ukrainian Kateryna Kucheryava. It is best known as the melody of Bedřich Smetana's Vltava and of the Israeli national anthem Hatikvah.

Appearances in classical music[edit]

“La Mantovana" appears in “Il Scolaro" by Gasparo Zanetti, 1645, as “Ballo di Mantua” in “Duo Tessuti con diversi Solfeggiamenti, Scherzi, Perfidie et Oblighi" by Giuseppe Giamberti in 1657, and as “An Italian Rant” in John Playford's “Dancing Master".

"Fuggi, fuggi, dolente cor," a version of the madrigal setting, provides the source material for Biagio Marini's 1655 trio sonata in G minor (Op. 22, “Sonata Sopra 'Fuggi dolente core'”).[2]

Camille Saint-Saëns quotes this tune in the third movement of Rhapsodies sur des cantiques bretons, Op. 7.

The melody was also then famously used by the Czech composer Bedřich Smetana in his symphonic poem Vltava (The Moldau) from his cycle celebrating Bohemia, Má vlast:

Vltava Smetana fragment.svg

Jewish immigrant Samuel Cohen from Moldavia adapted a Romanian version of the song as the setting for Hatikvah, later recognized by the state of Israel as its national anthem.[3]

Lyrics[edit]

Italian English
Fuggi Fuggi Fuggi da questo cielo

Aspro e duro spietato gelo

Tu che tutto imprigioni e leghi

Né per pianto ti frangi o pieghi

fier tiranno, gel de l'anno

fuggi fuggi fuggi là dove il Verno

su le brine ha seggio eterno.


Vieni vieni candida vien vermiglia

tu del mondo sei maraviglia

Tu nemica d'amare noie

Dà all'anima delle gioie

messagger per Primavera

tu sei dell'anno la giovinezza

tu del mondo sei la vaghezza.


vieni vieni vieni leggiadra e vaga

Primavera d'amor presaga

Odi Zefiro che t'invita

e la terra che il ciel marita

al suo raggio venga Maggio

vieni con il grembo di bei fioretti,

Vien su l'ale dei zefiretti.

Flee, flee, flee from this sky,

harsh and unyielding, relentless and freezing.

You, who shackle all in prison

neither bending nor breaking in tears.

You, the year's cruel, frozen tyrant,

flee, flee, flee to wherever the eternal winter

places its throne over the frost.


Come, come white, come vermilion.

You are a marvel for the world

and the nemesis of all things dreary.

Give joy to the soul

through your message of spring.

You are the youth of the year

and the beauty of the world.


Come, come, come, graceful and unclear,

spring of foreboding love.

Odes of Zephyrus that invite you,

and the earth that marries the sky;

May May come at its ray,

come with your lap of beautiful little flowers,

come on the wings of little Zephyrus.

References[edit]

  1. ^ John Walter Hill. ""Cenci, Giuseppe" In Grove Music Online: Cenci, Giuseppe". Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved February 21, 2010. (subscription required (help)). 
  2. ^ Imslp.org
  3. ^ Ingeb.org