Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Music: Sull'aria or The Letter Song from Le Nozze di Fiagro

One of the most beloved and delightful scenes in Figaro has to be when the Countess sits Susanna down at her desk and has her pen out the note that she will slip to the Count during the wedding festivities later on. Note three things that this implies: 1) Susanna is an educated servant; she can read and write, and 2) the Countess is conspiring in a plot against her husband with a servant, in order to trick him, and 3) they are both women in the process of outwitting the men.

These were all very revolutionary ideas in the 18th century and completely debunks the notion that Mozart and da Ponte removed the "offensive politics" from the story or that Mozart was a misogynist. Mozart's favorite story plots always involved strong, intelligent women undoing the men.

Lyrics and translation:

Sull'aria . . .
On the breeze . . .
Che soave zeffiretto . . .
What a gentle zephyr . . .
Zeffiretto . . .
Zephyr . . .
Questa sera spirera!
Will sigh this evening!
Questa sera spirera . . .
Will sigh this evening . . .
Sotto i pini del boschetto.
Beneath the pine grove.
Sotto i pini?
Beneath the pines?
Sotto i pini del boschetto . . .
Beneath the pine grove . . .
Ei gia il resto capira.
He will understand the rest.
Certo, certo il capira.
Certainly, he'll understand.
Ei gia il resto capira.
He will understand the rest.
Canzonetta sull'aria . . . etc.
Little tune on the breeze . . . etc.


  1. Thanks for the insights. I'm working on the piece right now with a friend.

  2. I love this scene from Shawshank