Bellini, Vincenzo: Il pirata (1827)
Act 1: Aria, “Sì, vincemmo…Ma che vostra è la mia gloria…Sì, vincemmo” (Ernesto)
Aria Talk •
Editor's Note: Aria Talk focuses not on the tried-and-true pieces you undoubtedly already know, but on somewhat off-the-beaten-track arias. The hope is that this music will prove a refreshing musical and interpretive change not only for you, the performer, but also for those hearing you in auditions.
If you’re fairly dramatic in vocal weight, no doubt you avoid the most frequently encountered bel canto fare (Figaro, Malatesta, Belcore) in favor of, say, Lucia and Puritani. Besides the latter, you’ll find other terrific opportunities in Bellini for real vigor, thrust and volume; Ernesto/Il pirata being a prime example.
In medieval Sicily, Ernesto is Duke of Caldora. He’s married to Imogene, who had formerly loved Gualtiero, Count of Montaldo. Gualtiero is currently exiled for political reasons, and his army has just been defeated by Ernesto. Imogene’s abiding love for Gualtiero is eventually discovered by her husband. After killing Ernesto in a duel, Gualtiero is tried and sentenced to death, and Imogene, we assume, is thereafter not long for this world. His wife’s love for another man is far from Ernesto’s mind at his first entrance, which is triumphant. He greets his warriors outside the palace of Caldora, generously proclaims that the victory is theirs, and — having shared the struggles of battle with them — now bids them rejoice with him. He concludes by proclaiming the men’s hearts equal to their bravery. Ernesto’s opening recitative, superbly assertive in tone, leads to a brief but rewarding aria. It maintains the character’s machismo, but combines this with the flexibility and legato flow without which no singer can succeed in Bellini. The short cabaletta (which, unusually, opens with the same words as did the recitative) is typically martial in character.
Score: Ricordi, Kalmus
Recording: Piero Cappuccilli in complete recording, EMI #67121 or, if unavailable, Roberto Frontali in complete recording, Berlin Classics #1115
About the Author: