Un bel dì vedremo

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Leopoldo Metlicovitz [it], 1904 – Madama Butterfly

"Un bel dì vedremo" (Italian pronunciation: [um bɛl di veˈdreːmo]; "One fine day we'll see") is a soprano aria from the opera Madama Butterfly (1904) by Giacomo Puccini to a libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. It is sung by Cio-Cio San (Butterfly) on stage with Suzuki, as she imagines the return of her absent love, Pinkerton.

"Un bel dì vedremo" is the opera's most famous aria and one of the most popular pieces in the soprano repertoire.

Dramatic setting[edit]

Nagasaki Harbour, the scene of Cio-Cio San's reverie

Three years after her marriage to U.S. naval officer named Pinkerton, Cio-Cio San ("Butterfly") awaits the return of her long-absent husband to Japan. Her maid, Suzuki, does not believe that Pinkerton will come back, but Butterfly is optimistic. Trying to convince Suzuki of Pinkerton's loyalty, Butterfly sings of an imaginary scene in which a thread of smoke on the far horizon signals the arrival of a white ship into Nagasaki harbour , bringing her long-lost love back to her. The imagined scene culminates in a romantic reunion.[1][2]

The aria is noted for its lyrical beauty, and it is of particular dramatic importance as Butterfly's yearning expressed in the song is later met with tragedy. Butterfly's longed-for "beautiful day" is heralded at the end of act 2 by the arrival of Pinkerton's ship, but it proves to be her last; Butterfly learns that Pinkerton has married another woman, and at the end of the opera the distraught Butterfly takes her own life.[3] "Un bel dì vedremo" is especially significant as it appeals to audiences with its emotive melody but also encapsulates the tragedy at the heart of the opera, foretelling Cio-Cio San's inevitable demise.[4]

Performance[edit]

The aria was first performed by the well-known soprano Rosina Storchio at the premiere of Madama Butterfly on 17 February 1904 at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan. In the revised version of the opera (28 May 1904 at the Teatro Grande in Brescia) it was sung by the famous Ukrainian soprano Solomiya Krushelnytska.

In 1984 the pop musician Malcolm McLaren adapted the aria for his single "Madam Butterfly (Un bel di vedremo)", a synth-pop remix of opera and 1980s R&B. The record reached No.13 in the UK Singles Chart and was included on McLaren's album of the same year, Fans.[5][6]

Lyrics[edit]

"Un bel dì vedremo" occurs in act 2 in both the original and the revised version. The Italian text here below is taken from the first version of the libretto, published by Ricordi in 1904.[7]

Un bel dì, vedremo
levarsi un fil di fumo sull'estremo
confin del mare.
E poi la nave appare.
Poi la nave bianca
entra nel porto, romba il suo saluto.
Vedi? È venuto!
Io non gli scendo incontro. Io no. Mi metto
là sul ciglio del colle e aspetto, e aspetto
gran tempo e non mi pesa
la lunga attesa.
E ... uscito dalla folla cittadina
un uomo, un picciol punto
s'avvia per la collina.
Chi sarà? Chi sarà?
E come sarà giunto
che dirà? Che dirà?
Chiamerà "Butterfly" dalla lontana.
Io senza dar risposta
me ne starò nascosta
un po' per celia ... e un po' per non morire
al primo incontro, ed egli alquanto in pena
chiamerà, chiamerà:
« Piccina mogliettina,
olezzo di verbena »
i nomi che mi dava al suo venire.
(a Suzuki)
Tutto questo avverrà,
te lo prometto.
Tienti la tua paura – io con sicura
fede lo aspetto.

One fine day we'll see
a thread of smoke arising
on the far horizon of the sea,
and then the ship appears.
Then the white ship
enters the harbour, thunders her salute.
See you? He has come!
I don't go down to meet him. Not I. I stay
there on the hill's brow, and wait, and wait
a lot of time, and I don't mind
the long waiting.
And ... out of the city crowd
a man, a tiny point
starts climbing up the hill.
Who will it be? Who will it be?
And when he has arrived
what will he say? What will he say?
He will call "Butterfly" from the distance.
I, without giving an answer,
will keep myself concealed.
A bit in jest ... and a bit as to not die
at the first meeting; and he, a little worried,
will call, will call:
"Oh, little one, dear wife,
You fragrance of verbena",
The names he called me on coming here.
(to Suzuki)
All this will happen,
I promise.
Suspend your fears - I wait with total
trust in him.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Beck, Charles R. (2014). What to Listen For in Opera: An Introductory Handbook. McFarland. pp. 156–7. ISBN 9781476617145. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  2. ^ Singher, Martial; Singher, Eta (2003). An Interpretive Guide to Operatic Arias: A Handbook for Singers, Coaches, Teachers, and Students. Penn State University Press. ISBN 0271023546. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  3. ^ "Accessible arias: Madama Butterfly's Un bel dì". www.roh.org.uk. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  4. ^ "Puccini's Madama Butterfly musical highlight: "Un bel dì vedremo"". The Royal Opera. Archived from the original on 19 May 2018. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  5. ^ Gilbert, Pat (2011). Passion is a Fashion: The Real Story of the Clash. Aurum Press. ISBN 9781845138028. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  6. ^ "Malcolm McLaren – Madam Butterfly (Un Bel Di Vedremo)". Discogs. Archived from the original on 19 May 2018. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  7. ^ "Madama Butterfly libretto" (in Italian). G. Ricordi & C.