The online guide to Verdi’s Aria AH SI, BEN MIO
Read Interesting facts and hear great YouTube Videos about the famous Aria “Ah si, ben mio”
If you want to hear more about the opera Il Trovatore, click on the link to the opera portrait
The aria – synopsis and background
Synopsis: Leonora is preparing for her wedding to Manrico. She is frightened; the battle with di Luna is imminent and Manrico’s forces are outnumbered. He assures her of his love. Manrico will defend it as leader. He swears eternal faith to Leonora till death.
The role of Manrico is very demanding. It is completely different from the other tenor roles of the other two operas of the popular trilogy (Alfredo in Traviata and the Duca in Rigoletto). In the Scena ed aria of Manrico in the third act, the tenor must first sing a lyrical, romantic “ah si ben mio” followed by a heroic “di quella pira” with the famous high C at the end (click on the link to the portrait the aria “di quella pira”).
Ah si ben mio is Manrico’s only extensive aria in the Trovatore. The aria begins with Verdi’s instruction “cantabile con espressione”. Manrico sings about his happiness of the imminent marriage (Ah! yes, mine, to be I yours, you my spouse). But the mood is sad and the music is written in minor. With “Ma pur se nella pagina” (But even if in the page De ‘my destinies is written) it is clear that the marriage happens under unhappy circumstances. Verdi writes “con dolore” in the score. However, the passage must be sung more with the grief of a painful realization than with an acute pain of resignation. The end of the aria is written in a comforting major key.
This aria is a love song impregnated with the presentiment of death. So the passage “Ch’io resti fra le vittime, dal ferro ostil trafitto” (That I remain among the victims, From the pierced hostile iron) in the second part of the verse must be sung with a painful piano and diminuendo. The dramatic closing verse “E solo in ciel precederti, la morte a me parrà! (And only in heaven it precedes you Death will seem to me!) gets a special meaning with a trill on the word “parrà”.
The Aria – the text of AH SI, BEN MIO
Ah! sì, ben mio, coll’essere
Io tuo, tu mia consorte,
Avrò più l’alma intrepida,
Il braccio avrò più forte;
Ma pur se nella pagina
De’ miei destini è scritto
Ch’io resti fra le vittime
Dal ferro ostil trafitto,
Fra quegli estremi aneliti
A te il pensier verrà
E solo in ciel precederti
La morte a me parrà!
Ah! yes, my goodness, by being
I yours, you my consort,
I shall have a more intrepid soul,
My arm will be stronger;
But even if on the page
Of my destiny is written
That I remain among the victims
By hostile iron pierced,
Among those extreme longings
To you the thought will come
And only in heaven preceding you
Death will seem to me!
Written for a Spinto Tenor
The role of Manrico is written for a spinto tenor (Italian) respectively young heroic tenor (German). The voice is strong and masculine. It has a metallic brilliance in the high notes. It captivates with its effortless power in the higher tessitura and has still agility. In the high register the Spinto Tenor can inspire the audience with top notes.
Famous interpretations of AH SI, BEN MIO
First we hear Franco Corelli. Again we hear from Corelli a Cavatina that offers more drama than poetry. Nevertheless one cannot escape the pull of this voice (Kesting speaks of a “macho-magnetism”). Somewhat disturbing is the lisping, which was a negative trademark of Corelli.
Ah si ben mio (1) – Corelli/Karajan
Next is Carlo Bergonzi. He was the antithesis to Corelli. He was a great musician, who approaches this Kavatine more lyrically/thoughtfully, stretches bows and sings out the melodies, but with a smaller voice.
Ah si ben mio (2) – Bergonzi
The third interpretation is by Jussi Björling. Possibly the best Verdi tenor since the Second World War. In Ah si ben mio we can understand why. He possessed both the vocal power and the lyrical elegance and could serve both poles at the same time.
Manrico is the Verdi role that Jussi Björling sang the most. In total he sung it on 67 performances. The new production of this opera at the Met and the subsequent recording in 1952 made him famous as Manrico. This recording under the direction of Celletti is somewhat faster than other recordings, so the trill at parrà is only hinted, nevertheless the recording with Björling’s melancholic voice timbre and the beautiful legato is very lyrical and poetic. Björling’s embodiment of Manrico in his interpretation seems more like that of a vulnerable lover than that of a soldier, which benefits the beauty of this aria. Björling received the highest praise from Maria Callas. He sang the Manrico twice with her in Chicago and she considered him to be the best Manrico.
Ah si ben mio (3) – Björling
The fourth version is by Placido Domingo. This time from the recording with Giulini. His interpretation is very warm and espressivo and we can find wonderful passages as eg the beautiful trill at parrà.
Ah si ben mio (4) – Domingo
You can hear a warm and expressive Interpretation from Franz Völker, sung in german.
Ah si ben mio (5) – Völker
“When the Munich tenor Heinrich Knote sang Manrico at the Met, he was said to have frightened even Caruso with the power of his phenomenally extensive voice. His voice reached effortlessly up to D”, (Kesting). Listen to Knote in a German sung recording of “Ah si ben mio”.
Ah si ben mio (6) – Knote
Also worth hearing is the same piece in an interpretation of Giovanni Martinelli’s powerful voice and still musically excellent.
Ah si ben mio (7) – Martinelli
And finally Enrico Caruso’s recording.
Ah si ben mio (8) – Caruso
Peter Lutz, opera-inside, the online opera guide to the Aria “Ah si ben mio” from the opera Il trovatore.
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