La Mantovana

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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 Flemish "Ik zag Cecilia komen", the Polish "Pod Krakowem", the Romanian "Carul cu boi", the Scottish "My mistress is prettie", 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.

Frédéric Chopin seems to reference the melody in nocturne No. 21 in C minor.

The melody was also then famously used by the Czech composer Bedřich Smetana in his symphonic poem Vltava (Moldau)[3] from his cycle celebrating Bohemia, Má vlast:

Vltava Smetana fragment.svg

Jewish immigrant Samuel Cohen to Israel in 19th century from Moldavia adapted a Romanian version of the song Carul cu boi [4][5][6] as the setting for "Hatikvah", later recognized by the state of Israel as its national anthem.[7] There is another similar Romanian folk song Cucuruz cu frunza-n sus[8][9] also based on La Mantovana.

Lyrics[edit]

Italian  

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]