picture of C. Monteverdi
lab51 clef icon Claudio Monteverdi
L'Orfeo
(Mantua, February 24, 1607)
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Text and Translation of Act 2 with Streaming Audio

 

Click on the highlighted links to stream the audio for the portion indicated.

IMPORTANT NOTE: For proper alignment of the Italian text and English translation, set your browser's text viewing size to "smaller" or "smallest" (in Internet Explorer, go to View, choose Text Size, and select "Smaller").

The selections are from the recording of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo by Nigel Rogers and Charles Medlam leading Chiaroscuro and the London Baroque Soloists (EMI 764947 2 [1984]).

Page numbers in brackets correspond to those printed on the original score (of 1609) at the top of the page in your sourcebook. You may want to refer also to the Outline and Synopsis.


Ecco pur ch’à voi ritorno
Care selve e piagge amare,
Da quel Sol fatte beate
Per cui sol mie nott’ han giorno.


Mira ch’à se n’alletta
L’ombra Orfeo de que’ faggi,
Hor che’n focati raggi
Febo da Ciel saetta.

Su qual’ herbosa sponda
Posianci, e in varii modi
Ciascun sua voce snodi
Al mormorio de l’onde.

In questo prato adorno
Ogni selvaggio Nume
Sovente ha per costume
Di far lieto soggiorno.

Qui Pan Dio de’ Pastori
S’udi talhor dolente
Rimembrar dolcemente
Suo sventurati amori.

Que le Napee vezzose
Schiera sempre fiorita
Con le candide dita
Pur viste à coglier rose.

Dunque fa degno Orfeo
Del suon de la tua lira
Questi campi ove spira
Aura d’odor Sabeo.

Vi ricorda o bosch’ ombrosi
De’ miei lungh’ aspri tormenti
Quando i sassi ai miei lamenti
Rispondean fatti pietosi?

Dite, allhor non vi sembrai
Più d’ogn’ altro sconsolato?
Hor fortuna ha stil cangiato
Et ha volto in festa i quai.

Vissi già mesto e dolente,
Hor gioisco, e quegli affanni
Che sofferti hò per tant’ anni
Fan più caro il ben presente.

Sol per te bella Euridice
Benedico il mio tormento,
Dopo’l duol viè più contento,
Dopo’l mal viè più felice.

Mira, deh mira Orfeo [p35] che d’ogni intorno
Ride il bosco e ride il prato,
Seguì pur co’l plettr’ aurato
D’addolcir l’aria in si beato giorno

Ahi caso acerbo, ahi far’ empio e crudele,
Ahi Stelle ingiuriose, ahi Ciel avaro.

Qual suon dolente il lieto dì perturba?


Lassa, dunque debb’ io
Mentre Orfeo con sue note il Ciel consola
Con le parole mie passargli il core.

Questa è Silvia gentile
Dolcissima compagna
De la bell’ Euridice: ò quanto è in vista
Dolorosa: hor che fia deh sommi Dei
Non torcete da noi benigno il guardo.

Pastor lasciate il canto
Ch’ogni nostr’ allegrezza in doglia è volta

Donde vieni? Ove va? Ninfa che porti?


A te ne vengo Orfeo
Messaggiera infelice,
Di caso più infelice e più funesto.
La tua bella Euridice . . .

Ohime che odo?

La tue diletta sposa è morta.

Ohime.

In un fiorito prato
Con l’altre sue compagne
Giva cogliendo fiori
Per farne una ghirlanda à le sue chiome,
Quand’ angue insidioso
Ch’era fra l’erbe ascoso
Le punse un piè con velenoso dente,
Ed eco immantinente
Scolorissi il bel viso e ne’suoi lumi
Sparir que’ lampi, ond’ella al Sol fea scorno.
All’hor noi tutte sbigottite e meste
Le fummo intorno richiamar tentando
Gli spirti in lei smarriti
Con l’onda fresca e co’ possenti carmi;
Ma nulla valse, ahi lassa,
Ch’ ella i languidi lumi alquanto aprendo,
E tè chiamando Orfeo,
Dopò un grave sospiro
Spirò frà queste braccia, ed io rimasi
Piena il cor di pietade e di spavento.


Ahi caso acerbo, ahi fato empio e crudele,
Ahi stell’ ingiuriose, ahi Ciel avaro.

A l’ amara novella
Rassembra l’ infelice un muto sasso,

Che per troppo dolor non può dolersi.

Ahi ben havrebbe un cor di Tigre o d’Orsa
Chi non sentisse del tuo mal pietate,
Privo d’ ogni tuo ben misero amante.

Tue se’ morta [p39] mia vita, ed io respiro?
Tu se’ da me partita
Per mai più non tornare, ed io rimango?
Nò, che se i versi alcuna cosa ponno
N’ andrò sicuro à’ più profondi abissi,
E intenerito il cor del Rè de l’Ombre
Meco trarròtti à riveder le stelle:
O se ciò negheràmmi empio e crudele,
Romarrò teco in compagnia di morte,
A dio terra, a dio Cielo, e sole a dio.


Ahi caso acerbo [p40] ahi fato empio e crudele,
Ahi stell’ ingiuriose, ahi Ciel avaro.
Non si fidi huom mortale
Di ben caduco e frale
Che tosto fugge, e spesso
A gran salita il precipizio è presso.


Ma io ch’ in questa lingua
Hò portato il coltello
C’ha svenata d’Orfeo l’anima amante,
Odiosa ai Pastori ed à le Ninfe,
Odiosa à me stessa, ove m’ascondo?
Nottola infausta il sole
Fuggirò sempre e in solitario speco
Menerò vita al mio dolor conforme.

Chi ne consola [p42] ahi lassi?
O pur chi ne concede
Ne gl’ occhi un vivo fonte
Da poter algrimar come conviensi
In questo mesto giorno
Quanto più lieto già tant’ hor più mesto?
Oggi turbo crudele
I due lumi maggiori
Di queste nostre selve
Euridice, ed Orfeo
L’una punta dal’ angue,
L’altro dal duol trafitto, ahi lassi ha spenti;

Ahi caso acerbo [p44] ahi fato empio e crudele,
Ahi stell’ ingiuriose, ahi Ciel avaro.

Ma dove, ah dove hor sono
De la misera Ninfa
Le belle e fredde membra,
Dove suo degno albergo
Quella bell’ alma elesse
Ch’ oggi è partita in su’l fiorir de’giorni?

Andiam Pastori andiamo
Pietosi a ritrovarle,
E di lagrime amare
I dovuto tributo
Per noi si paghi almeno al corpo esangue.

Ahi caso acerbo, ahi fato empio e crudele,
Ahi stell’ ingiuriose, ahi Ciel avaro.

Sinfonia [p26]
ORFEO




Ritornello
PASTORE



Ritornello




Ritornello
DUE PASTORI



Ritornello




Ritornello





CORO




ORFEO



Ritornello




Ritornello




Ritornello





PASTORE




MESSAGGIERA


PASTORE


MESSAGGIERA



PASTORE





MESSAGGIERA


ORFEO


MESSAGGIERA



ORFEO


MESSAGGIERA

ORFEO

MESSAGIERA





















PASTORE


PASTORE



PASTORE



ORFEO











CORO








MESSAGGIERA







Sinfonia
DUE PASTORI












CORO



DUE PASTORI












CORO


Sinfonia


Happy fields, I’m now returning
blest by her whose eyes are sunshine.
Now my night is changed to daytime
and my heart with love is burning.


These beeches in a shady grove,
Orfeo, offer shelter
from fierce and burning arrows
that Phaebus darts from heaven.

The waters of the stream
murmur while we are dreaming,
our voices at our waking
are mingled with its flowing.

In our enchanting meadows
the gods and their companions
who love the flowery regions
will haunt the woods and hollows.

And Pan, the god of shepherds
by all his loves rejected,
ill fortune recollected,
here wanders singing sadly.

Here wood nymphs tread their mazes,
garlands they make with flowers,
for their close-woven bowers,
they come to pluck roses.

Then come with us, Orfeo,
sing to your lyre a blessing,
by your clear notes inspiring
each hill and vale and meadow.

Shady woods, do you remember
how you heard my long lamenting,
and your sorrow for my suffering
turned your spring to cold December?

With your winds you sighed in pity,
and made echo to my mourning.
Fortune now her wheel is turning,
and you whisper joy to greet me.

Though my life was grey and mournful,
yet I bless those days of sadness,
for when sorrow turns to gladness
by that chance is Love more joyful.

You alone, dear Euridice,
as you caused my bitter torment,
are the cause of my contentment
and the source of every sweetness.

Oh see, oh see, Orfeo how wood and meadow
smile for joy at your good fortune!
Sound once more a lover’s blessing,
with golden music make more gay the sunshine.

Ah! Desolation! Ah! Fate callus and cruel!
Ah! Unforseen disaster! Ah! Death and sorrow!

What dreadful message brings you to disturb us?


Sorrow fills my whole being.
While Orfeo with his golden lyre charms Heaven, I with my fearful tale must pierce his heart’s core.

This is Silvia, most gentle,
most precious of companions
to our dear Euridice. Oh, with what anguish is she shaken? Why such sorrow? O mighty Heaven, do not turn your face from us.

No more! Now all be silent.
Every joy that you cherished in death has perished.

Who has sent you? With what news? Nymph, tell me quickly!

To you I come, Orfeo,
retched bearer of bad news,
tidings still more hateful, still more cruel,
that your dear Euridice . . .

Alas! Euridice!

That your sweet wife, your darling, has perished.

Alas!

She in a flowery meadow
with all her young companions
wandered to gather blossoms,
and wove them into garlands for her tresses —
when suddenly a viper
that was in was in the grass was lurking and
upreared its head and pierced her foot with poison.
And straightaway the color vanished
from her cheeks and she fainted.
And in her eyes was quenched that radiance which robbed the sun of brightness.
At once, in terror and in great confusion
we crowded round her:
and with water dashed on her temples we tried
to summon her fleeing spirits, with loving spells to hold her
But all in vain. Ah! Useless!
She, but lifting a moment her closing eylids,
cried out your name — Orfeo! Orfeo!
Then sighing deeply and sadly
she yielded up her spirit; my arms still held her.


Ah! Desolation! Ah! Fate callus and cruel!
Ah! Unforseen disaster! Ah! Death and sorrow!

At this heart-rending story,
the poor unlucky lover, like a statue
and entrapped by his grief, no grief can utter.

Ai! Pitiless the heart, and fierce as tiger
that would not weep to see your sad misfortune,
torn from your only joy, wretched lover.

You have left me, my dearest, and I still living? You - gone from me forever? Gone from me forever, and no more, no more may I see you. Yet I remain here?
No! If my singing still has power to help me
I shall descend into the deep abysses,
with tender song to melt the king of darkness,
and draw you with me to see again the starlight.
Or if Fate will deny me such a blessing I remain with you, your life to share, in darkness.
Farewell, meadows. Farewell, Heavens — and sunlight. I leave you.

Ah! Desolation! Ah! Fate callus and cruel!
Ah! Unforseen disaster! Ah! Death and sorrow!
Joys are not won securely,
nor faith contracted surely —
we taste and lose them:
and whoso ascends the mountain finds that a fall must follow.


But I whose tongue is guilty,
I who thrust with my dagger to the heart of Orfeo,
draining his life blood —
I am hateful to all my dear companions,
to myself I am hateful. Where shall I hide now?
Bird of the night time, the sunlight never shall find me. Hid in some lonely cavern,
in its deep gloom I’ll spend my days of mourning.

Who shall restore our losses,
or where may we discover some healing?
Or find a fountain
for our tears as they flow that may relieve us?
O day that brought disaster,
how happy was the dawn, how sad the evening.
This day died in a whirlwind
with the two brightest planets
of all our constellations —
Euridice and Orfeo —
she by poison has defeated,
he bereft and despairing; alas, both lifeless.

Ah! Desolation! Ah! Fate callus and cruel!
Ah! Unforseen disaster! Ah! Death and sorrow!


But where now — Ah, where now —
what shelter have you found Euridice
what dwelling for your body?
Where does your spirit wander
that on this day of sorrow
sighing departed and in its flower of youth died?

Now come, companions, to seek her,
in pity to discover where her cold body’s lying,
and with tender lamenting
to pay our tribute,
with tears of pity to Euridice.

Ah! Desolation! Ah! Fate callus and cruel!
Ah! Unforseen disaster! Ah! Death and sorrow!