The Portrait of Verdi’s Aria IL BALEN DEL SUO SORRISO
Read Interesting facts and hear great YouTube Videos about the famous Aria “Il balen del suo sorriso”.
The Aria – Synopsis & Background
Synopsis: Di Luna and his soldiers intend to abduct Leonora and the Count sings of his love for her. But Leonora loves Manrico, his political opponent.
The Balen is written for the classical Verdi baritone. To sing this aria, the baritone must sing high passages into which the beautiful melody leads him. This rather lyrical scene contrasts strongly with the many dramatic passages of the Conte in this opera (e.g. Di geloso amor or Per me ora fatale).
The Conte di Luna awaits Leonora’s arrival at the monastery in the early hours of the morning. A beautiful short introduction of the orchestra accompanied by the bass clarinet creates a peaceful atmosphere. With grace he describes the face of his lover and with a great emotional ritardando he sings “Ah l’amore ond’ardo” (The Love with which I burn). He sings the passages which are lightly decorated to take away the evil from the lover “villain” and to show the honest love and pain that drives him. The next section “sperda il sole…” is repeated three times and shows the storm in his heart (la tempesta del mio cor). A fourth repetition in the form of a cadenza completes this beautiful piece.
The Aria – the text of IL BALEN DEL SUO SORRISO
l balen del suo sorriso
D’una stella vince il raggio!
Il fulgor del suo bel viso
Novo infonde in me coraggio!…
Ah! l’amor, l’amore ond’ardo
Le favelli in mio favor!
Sperda il sole d’un suo sguardo
La tempesta del mio cor.
(Odesi il rintocco de’ sacri bronzi)
Qual suono!… oh ciel…
Vocal Fach cavalier Baritone
The role of Luna is written for a cavalier baritone. The cavalier baritone is a more dramatic version of the lyrical baritone. It is more mature and has a more virile voice leaning into the dark. Verdie has written some of his middle works for this type (e.g. Germont, Renato, Luna).
Famous interpretations of IL BALEN DEL SUO SORRISO
With Leonard Warren we hear an outstanding American baritone of the fifties. Kesting comments on Warrens’ Conte: “Like no other post-war baritone, the sound of the voice contains the sinister and threatening coloration suggested by the obsession of Luna – a dramatically meaningful contrast to the bright, open timbre of Jussi Björling. And like no other Warren glides without the slightest tension through the extremely high tessitura of Il balen. In any case, Warren would be an option for the ideal cast of the work.”
Il balen del suo sorriso – Warren
The next recording is by Robert Merrill. He was associated with the opera Il Trovatore by a great personal triumph. He was excluded from his regular opera house by the then director Rudolf Bing of the Met, despite his star status, because he cancelled the obligatory off-season tour at short notice in favour of a TV job. This enraged Bing that he decreed a lifelong ban on Merrill performing. Merrill then sought to talk to Bing for a longer period of time until he succeeded in getting back into the ensemble after a whole season. This comeback happened in an evening with Il Trovatore and he was allowed to enjoy the ovations of the audience in his comeback (Merrill described this episode in detail in his book “Once more from the beginning”).
“You are the rat again, aren’t you, Daddy? “The baritone is always the rat, my boy” I had answered. Being the baritone has given me a repertoire of villains to play, and I love them. But if you’re going to be hated by the audience for all your dirty work, then at least you should have a few great arias.
Il balen del suo sorriso – Merrill
Ettore Bastianini has a beautiful and round voice, however his balen lacks a bit of bitterness.
Il balen del suo sorriso – Bastiannini
Peter Lutz, opera-inside, the online opera guide to the Aria “Il balen del suo sorriso” from the opera Il trovatore.