The online guide to Donizetti’s aria REGNAVA NEL SILENZIO
Read Interesting facts and hear great YouTube Videos about the famous Aria “Regnava nel silenzio” and “Quando rapito in estasi”.
The aria – synopsis and background
Synopsis: Lucia meets regularly with Edgardo. In the evening at the fountain she tells her maid with a dark face that a ghost of a dead Ravenswood once appeared to her (Regnava nel silenzio). In the following Caballetta (Quando, rapito in estasi) her mind brightens again, triggered by the anticipation of Edgardo’s imminent arrival at the fountain. Lucia waits at the fountain for Edgardo and tells her maid that at this place the ghost of a murdered Ravenswood has appeared to her.
A. Regnava nel silenzio
Strings and wind instruments are enter in piano. The heavy brass players spread a gloomy mood. After two bars the clarinet begins with an arpeggiated figure. This constantly repeated figure reinforces the nocturne-like mood, creating the atmosphere of a fate determined by destiny. The soprano voice begins in p above the arpeggiated figures.
This set up enables the singer to expressively create the melody of the Regnava nel silenzio. The text offers expressive words like “Pallido”, “Bruna” or “Luna” and Donizetti composes beautiful ornaments, especially the word “gemito” (sigh) gives the singer a beautiful opportunity of expression. With the repetition of “L’ombra mostrarsi” the piece gets a tragic aspect. In “si pria limpida” Donizetti writes 3 trills that have to be sung out beautifully.
This part is repeated again and with the final cadenza and an orchestra transition, the Cavatina “Regnava nel silenzio” moves into the Caballetta “Quando rapito in estasi.
B. Quanto rapito in estasi
With this Caballetta Lucia’s mood brightens up. Donizetti composed the excitement of Edgardo’s imminent arrival with great leaps in tone, which pose considerable difficulties for the singer. Donizetti also writes remarkable details in this aria, such as how the time in Il ciel per me almost stands still and then changes into tempo in “si schiuda il ciel per me”. Or, for example, the trill in the middle of the aria, which extends over 2 bars. This first part is repeated again. The Aria concludes with a beautiful passage “si schiuda il ciel”, which ends on a spectacular D.
The Aria – the text of REGNAVA NEL SILENZIO
Regnava nel silenzio
Alta la notte e bruna…
Colpìa la fonte un pallido
Raggio di tetra luna…
Quando sommesso un gemito
Fra l’aure udir si fe’,
Ed ecco su quel margine
L’ombra mostrarsi a me!
Qual di chi parla muoversi
Il labbro suo vedea,
E con la mano esanime
Chiamarmi a sé parea.
Stette un momento immobile
Poi ratta dileguò,
E l’onda pria sì limpida,
Di sangue rosseggiò! –
Egli è luce a’ giorni miei,
E conforto al mio penar
Quando rapito in estasi
Del più cocente amore,
Col favellar del core
Mi giura eterna fe’;
Gli affanni miei dimentico,
Gioia diviene il pianto…
Parmi che a lui d’accanto
Si schiuda il ciel per me!
Reigned in the silence
High the night and brown…
The fountain was struck by a pale
Ray of gloomy moon…
When a subdued groan
Among the auras was heard,
And behold on that margin
The shadow showed itself to me!
As of one who speaks moving
Her lip I saw,
And with his lifeless hand
It seemed to call me to itself.
He stood a moment motionless
Then he disappeared with a smile,
And the wave so clear before,
With blood reddened! –
He is light to my days
And comfort to my pain
When enraptured in ecstasy
Of the most burning love,
With the speaking of the heart
He swears to me eternal faith;
I forget my troubles,
Joy becomes the weeping…
It seems to me that next to him
Heaven opens for me!
Written for a dramatic coloratura soprano
The role of Lucia is written for a dramatic coloratura soprano. The dramatic coloratura soprano must have both coloratura ability and the ability to master dramatic expression with a larger vocal volume. If this voice can also sing lyrical parts, so it can happen that the “dramatic coloratura soprano” can sing a wide repertoire.
Famous interpretations of “Regnava nel silenzio” and “Quando rapito in estasi”
Maria Callas has written stage history with the role of Lucia. The famous producer Walter Legge wanted to set new recording standards with the ensemble of Scala and Serafin, among others with the opera Lucia di Lammermoor. Kesting: «The recording of Lucia was not yet complete when Legge sent the last three minutes of Act II to Karajan on a piece of tape. Karajan immediately decided to stage the work himself, and with the performance he soon travelled to Berlin and Vienna. Callas as Lucia caused a pandemonium in both opera houses, and it was not least this success that determined Vienna to appoint Herbert von Karajan as successor to Karl Böhm at the Staatsoper, who had retired».
Listen to Maria Callas in a magnificent and haunting interpretation of this aria in this recording conducted by Tullio Serafin.
Regnava nel silenzio…Quando rapito in estasi (1) – Callas/Serafin
Listen to another beautiful Interpretation by Anna Netrebko.
Regnava nel silenzio…Quando rapito in estasi (2) – Netrebko
The third recording is by Joan Sutherland. The Lucia was perhaps her greatest role. In 1959 the then 32-year-old catapulted herself into the top league with the London Lucia di Lammermoor and became the big competitor of Maria Callas in the Bellini/Donizetti repertoire. Ironically, the then conductor was the Italian maestro Tullio Serafin, who rehearsed a musically and artistically convincing Lucia with the Australian Sutherland. Sutherland became one of the greatest coloratura sopranos of the century. In the following recording from 1968 you can hear why. Unique how she virtuosically masters the difficult trill passages.
Regnava nel silenzio…Quando rapito in estasi (3) – Sutherland
Next you hear and see a performance of Gruberova, who played Lucia about 200 times, at the Vienna State Opera alone about 90 times. Gruberova is a color soprano who became famous with the Queen of the Night. The interpretation of this Donizetti arias is very virtuoso and impresses especially with the playing of the loud and soft tones.
Regnava nel silenzio…Quando rapito in estasi (4) – Gruberova
We conclude with a recording of the dazzling Luisa Tetrazzini (1882-1963) from 1907. She too was a coloratura soprano. Toscanini called her a “soprano pirotecnico” and refused to cooperate with her. Her aria is still full of (beautiful) ornaments, which later went out of fashion with Callas straightforward interpretation from 1955.
Regnava nel silenzio (5) – Tetrazzini
Peter Lutz, opera-inside, the online opera guide to the Aria “Regnava nel silenzio” and “Quando rapito in estasi” from the opera Lucia di Lammermoor.