Lascia ch'io pianga

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Left: Handel's 1711 autograph score showing the opening few bars of the aria; Right: 1876 aria sheet music

"Lascia ch'io pianga" is an Italian-language soprano aria by composer George Frideric Handel which has become a popular concert piece.

The original melody for the aria is first found in Act III of Handel's 1705 opera Almira as a Sarabande.[1] The score for this can be seen on page 81 of Vol. 55 of Chrysander.

Three years later, Handel re-cycled the melody and used it for an aria for the character Piacere in the second part of his 1707 oratorio Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno (also entitled El tronfo del Tempo e della Verità. This version of the aria is entitled, "Lascia la spina".[2] Chrysander's score for this aria can be seen on page 76 of Vol. 24.

The text and lyrics for this version of the aria are as follows:

Lascia la spina, cogli la rosa; tu vai cercando il tuo dolor.

Canuta brina per mano ascosa, giungerà quando nol crede il cuor.

Leave the thorn, take the rose; you go searching for your pain.

Gray frost by hidden hand will come when you heart doesn't expect it.


In 1711, Handel recycled the music yet again, this time for his 1711 London opera Rinaldo, using a new text (see below) and giving the aria to the character Almirena (portrayed by soprano Isabella Girardeau in the opera's premiere) in act 2. Rinaldo was a major triumph for Handel, and it is with this work that the aria is chiefly associated.

Handel's 1739 pasticcio Giove in Argo also features a shorter and lesser known "Lascia la spina".

Music[edit]

The aria is written in the key of F major with a time signature of 3
2
and a tempo marking of Largo. In the first edition published by Walsh, the orchestration is unspecified (see Walsh first edition), giving only a solo melody line above an unfigured bass line. There is the mention 'violins' at bar 23 where the singer breaks (bar 31 in most modern editions which include an 8-bar introduction). Chrysander claimed to have worked from Handel's 'performance score' and stated that the autograph manuscript had been lost (although RISM state that the British Library hold a fragment of the autograph missing 53 bars); Chrysander's edition shows two violins and a viola with a cello. He does not provide figuring for the continuo. It is not clear whether he invented the additional string parts himself (as he often did) or found them in the performance score to which he referred. Most modern editions seem to be based upon Chrysander's version, as can be seen from the different placement of certain syllables in the melismata in his version and in the Walsh first edition.

A performance takes about five minutes.

The aria has been recorded by many artists including Canadian soprano Suzie LeBlanc, and is featured in several films including Farinelli;[3] All Things Fair by Bo Widerberg;[4] L.I.E. by Michael Cuesta; Antichrist[5] and Nymph()maniac, both by Lars von Trier.

Text[edit]

The libretto was written by Giacomo Rossi.

Lascia ch'io pianga
mia cruda sorte,
e che sospiri
la libertà.

Il duolo infranga
queste ritorte
de' miei martiri
sol per pietà.

Allow that I weep over
my cruel fate,
and that I may sigh
for the freedom

Let my sadness shatter
these chains
of my suffering,
if only out of pity.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dean and Knapp, pp. 176–78
  2. ^ Hicks, Anthony. "Rinaldo". Oxford Music Online. Retrieved 28 January 2011. (subscription required)
  3. ^ Haynes, Bruce, The End of Early Music, Oxford University Press US, 2007, p. 25. ISBN 0-19-518987-6
  4. ^ Lærerinden – Musikstycken (in Swedish). Swedish Film Institute. Retrieved on 28 July 2008.
  5. ^ Antichrist Pressbook (PDF). Artificial Eye. Retrieved on 28 July 2009.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]