The Portrait of Leoncavallo’s Aria VESTI LA GIUBBA
Read Interesting facts and hear great YouTube Videos about the famous Aria “VESTI LA GIUBBA”.
The Aria – Synopsis & Background
Synopsis: Canio, the aging boss of a theater troupe is married to Nedda, whom he once found as an orphan on the streets. She secretly loves Silvio, a young man from the village. Canio has found it out and presses Nedda and wants to know his name. When Nedda refuses to tell his name, Canio takes out a knife. Peppe and Tonio can stop him from slashing at Nedda. Canio is desperate about his situation and collapses.
Canio is not in the mood to go on stage. In the introduction “Recitar” the tenor has to express deepest bitterness:
He is deeply unhappy and insecure (are you a man? You are Pagliacci). Eaten away by pain, he ends this recitative passage on a violent high A.
The aria Vesti la giubba begins in a dark piano.
The tenor’s ability to express feelings to the maximum is required here:
The final verses of this aria have become rightly famous (ridpagliaccio):
At your broken love
Laugh at the pain
Which posons your heart
This passage has become famous. The tenor’s ability to express feelings to the maximum is required in this aria. It is not technically difficult and yet it separates the wheat from the chaff, who has the the dramatical voice to touch the listener. The tenor must bring maximum bitterness and sarcasm to the “ridi pagliaccio”, which is repeated 3 times and constantly increased and becomes broader until Pagliaccio finally collapses.
The Aria – the text of VESTI LA GIUBBA
Recitar! Mentre preso dal delirio,
non so più quel che dico,
e quel che faccio!
Eppur è d’uopo, sforzati!
Bah! Sei tu forse un uom?
Tu se’ Pagliaccio!
Vesti la giubba e la faccia infarina.
La gente paga, e rider vuole qua.
E se Arlecchin t’invola Colombina,
ridi, Pagliaccio, e ognun applaudirà!
Tramuta in lazzi lo spasmo ed il pianto
in una smorfia il singhiozzo e ‘l dolor, Ah!
sul tuo amore infranto!
Ridi del duol, che t’avvelena il cor!
Vocal fach “spinto tenor”
Vocal Fach «Spinto Tenor»
The role of Canio is written for a spinto tenor . 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 VESTI LA GIUBBA
Let’s listen to several recordings of this aria. We begin with the famous version of Caruso.
With the recording of “Vesti la giubba” Enrico Caruso made history. Let Jürgen Kesting speak: “On March 17, 1907, Caruso’s most famous and momentous record was recorded. It is the Canio’s lamento from Pagliacci with the inimitable sob and the desperate laughter after the phrase “bah, si tu forse un uom”. The long phrase “sul tuo amore infranto”, to be unfolded with a great sound, forms Caruso, audibly carried away by what he sings and suffers singing, on one breath and a powerful, even ecstatic phonation.
This recording from 1907 was, by the way, the first record of which over a million copies were sold !
Recitar…vesti la giubba (1) – Caruso
Pagliaccio/Canio was one of Domingo’s parade roles. His “Vesti la giubba” from a great film adaptation of Zeffirelli was memorable. Perhaps others have sung a more beautiful, richer high passage in this aria, but the overall impression is overwhelming.
Recitar…vesti la giubba (2) – Domingo
Pavarotti was perhaps the Canio that touched the general public the most.
Recitar…vesti la giubba (3) – Pavarotti
Björling’s phrasing is great and his sound is rich. The voice has a great colourfulness. Björling, in contrast to many professional colleagues, does without sobbing and nevertheless manages to convey the emotions. What’s striking is that Björling’s “R” is unusually strong, probably a tribute to Caruso. In the year of this recording (1953) he had contact with Caruso’s widow and she praised him “as the only real successor” to her husband.
Recitar…vesti la giubba (4) – Björling
Richard Tucker was a passionate performer. His effects were often on the verge of being exaggerated or, to put it more positively, of the highest intensity. He was one of the great tenors of the post-war period. His Vesti la giubba is of great colourfulness and intensity.
Recitar…vesti la giubba (5) – Richard Tucker
Opinions about Mario del Monaco were divided. Some called him “Urlatore” (screamer), others worshipped him.
Recitar…vesti la giubba (6) – Monaco
Watch Jonas Kaufmann from the production of the Salzburger Festspiele 2015. At the double performance of Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliaccio he made his debut at both operas! His reviews were excellent.
Recitar…vesti la giubba (7) – Kaufmann
For those who are pop fans: Freddie Mercury recorded the musical theme of Vesti la giubba in the first bars of the Queen song “it is a hard life”.
Vesti la giubba vs Queen
Peter Lutz, opera-inside, the online opera guide to the Aria “VESTI LA GIUBBA” from the opera Pagliacci.