Una furtiva lagrima

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"Una furtiva lagrima" (A furtive tear) is the romanza from act 2, scene 3 of the Italian opera L'elisir d'amore by Gaetano Donizetti. It is sung by Nemorino (tenor) when it appears that the love potion he bought to win the heart of his dream lady, Adina, works. Nemorino is in love with Adina, but she is not interested in a relationship with an innocent, rustic man. To win her heart, Nemorino buys a love potion with all the money he has in his pocket. That love potion is actually a cheap red wine sold by a traveling quack doctor, but when he sees Adina weeping, he knows that she has fallen in love with him, and he is sure that the "elixir" has worked.[1]


{\clef "treble_8" \time 6/8 \key bes \minor f_"Range" as'}

In an opera about fake potions and feigned emotions, Donizetti invests this aria with considerable pathos. It is set in B minor, a dark key with often tragic associations.[2]

The time signature of the aria is the compound metre of 6
. It changes to B major on the words "Cielo! Si può morir!". The vocal range extends from F3 to A4 with a tessitura of B3 to A4.The last occurrence of the word chiedo is a coloratura melisma of 24 notes covering the range F3 to G4.


The Italian text is taken from a score and libretto at Indiana University.[3] This source does not include the last line "Si può morir! Si può morir d'amor", which is however heard in most performances of the romanza.

Una furtiva lagrima
negli occhi suoi spuntò:
Quelle festose giovani
invidiar sembrò.

Che più cercando io vo?
Che più cercando io vo?
M'ama! Sì, m'ama,
lo vedo, lo vedo.

Un solo istante i palpiti
del suo bel cor sentir!
I miei sospir confondere
per poco a' suoi sospir!
I palpiti, i palpiti sentir,
confondere i miei co' suoi sospir.

Cielo, si può morir;
di più non chiedo, non chiedo.
Ah, cielo! Si può! Si può morir!
Di più non chiedo, non chiedo.
Si può morir! Si può morir d'amor.

Literal translation
A furtive tear
in her eyes appeared:
Those festive young girls
she seemed to envy.

What more need I look for?
What more need I look for?
She loves me! Yes, she loves me,
I see it, I see it.

For a single instant the beats
of her beautiful heart to hear!
My sighs to blend
for a while with her sighs!
Her heartbeats, her heartbeats to hear,
my sighs with hers to merge.

Heavens! One could die!
More I cannot ask, I cannot ask.
Oh, heavens! One could, one could die!
More I cannot ask, I cannot ask.
One could die! One could die of love!

Poetic translation[4]
Softly a furtive teardrop fell,
shadowed her sparkling eyes;
Seeing the others follow me
has caused her jealous sighs.

What is there more to prize?
What more than this could I prize?
Sighing, she loves me,
I saw that she loves me.

Could I but feel her heart on mine,
breathing that tender sigh!
Could my own sighing comfort her,
and whisper in sweet reply!
Her heart on mine, as heart to heart we sigh.
So tenderly we'd share a sweet reply!

Heaven, I then could die;
no more I'd ask you, I'd ask you,
ah! heaven, I, then, I then could die;
no more I'd ask you, I'd ask you.
I then could die, I then could die of love.


  1. ^ "Una furtiva lagrima". Aria database site. Retrieved 25 July 2018
  2. ^ "Accessible Arias: 'Una furtiva lagrima' from L'elisir d'amore". Royal Opera House. 2012-09-27. Retrieved 2019-06-22.
  3. ^ Score and libretto at the Indiana University School of Music
  4. ^ Vocal score (Italian and English), Indiana University School of Music

External links[edit]