Today we’re listening to…
“Ave Maria, piena di grazia” a soprano aria from Act 4 of the Italian opera, Otello by Giuseppe Verdi. Leontyne Price is singing the role of Desdemona (dez-DAY-moe-nah). Given her smoky, luminous and sensuously tender sound I can’t help but fall in love with this aria every time I hear it. The piece is hauntingly beautiful and that is in no small part due to the genius of Verdi. He composed some of the greatest music ever written. Any Verdi opera, even his lesser known works, is one long stream of endless melody after another.
🎧 Listen here (4 minute listen):
Otello is considered Verdi’s greatest tragic opera. It is an opera in four acts based on Shakespeare’s play written in 1603, Othello. Unjustly convinced of Desdemona’s infidelity, Otello (oh-TELL-oh) has decided to kill her. In the aria, she prays for all the people who suffer as much as she does. Desdemona knows she is going to die and she sings “Ave Maria”.
Pray for those who kneeling adore thee, pray for the sinner, for the innocent and for the weak oppressed; and to the powerful man, who also grieves, thy sweet compassion show.
Pray for him who bows beneath injustice and ‘neath the blows of cruel destiny; for us, pray thou for us, pray for us always, and at the hour of our death pray for us, pray for us, pray!
Want to know more?
Verdi’s funeral in 1901 remains the largest public gathering of any event in the history of Italy.
Leontyne Price is a (lirico spinto) soprano. Spinto (from Italian, "pushed") is a vocal term used to characterize a voice of type that is capable of handling large musical climaxes in opera.
Why Othello➡️Otello? The Verdi opera is set to an Italian adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy. Since the letter “h” isn’t pronounced in Italian, the Italian spelling of the name is “Otello”- no “h.”
Thank you for listening,