Vesti la giubba

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Cover of the first edition of Pagliacci

"Vesti la giubba" ("Put on the costume", sometimes translated as "On With the Motley")[1] is a famous tenor aria from Ruggero Leoncavallo's 1892 opera Pagliacci. "Vesti la giubba" is sung at the conclusion of the first act, when Canio discovers his wife's infidelity, but must nevertheless prepare for his performance as Pagliaccio the clown because "the show must go on".

The aria is often regarded as one of the most moving in the operatic repertoire of the time. The pain of Canio is portrayed in the aria and exemplifies the entire notion of the "tragic clown": smiling on the outside but crying on the inside. This is still displayed today, as the clown motif often features the painted-on tear running down the cheek of the performer.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, this aria sung by Enrico Caruso, first recorded in November 1902, was the first million-selling record in history.[1]

This aria is often used in popular culture, and has been featured in many renditions, mentions, and spoofs.


Performed by Enrico Caruso, recorded on March 17, 1907

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Recitar! Mentre preso dal delirio,
non so più quel che dico,
e quel che faccio!
Eppur è d'uopo, sforzati!
Bah! Sei tu forse un uom?
Tu se' Pagliaccio!

Vesti la giubba e la faccia infarina.
La gente paga, e rider vuole qua.
E se Arlecchin t'invola Colombina,
ridi, Pagliaccio, e ognun applaudirà!
Tramuta in lazzi lo spasmo ed il pianto
in una smorfia il singhiozzo e 'l dolor, Ah!

Ridi, Pagliaccio,
sul tuo amore infranto!
Ridi del duol, che t'avvelena il cor!

Recite! While taken with delusion,
I do not remember things which I say,
and do what I do!
Yet it is appropriate, endeavored!
Humph! Are you not a man?
Art thou 'Pagliaccio!

Put on your costume and make up your face.
The people pay, and laugh when they please.
And if Harlequin invites away Colombina
laugh, Pagliaccio, and everyone will applaud!
Spasm transformed into jokes and tears
into a grimace the tears and the pain, Ah!

Laugh, Pagliaccio,
at your shattered love!
Laugh of the pain, which poisons your heart!


  1. ^ a b The New Guinness Book of Records, ed. Peter Matthews, Guinness Publishing. 1995. p.150