An opera in four acts by Alfredo Catalani (1854-1893), La Wally presents a romeo-juliet situation in which our heroine – Wally – (short for Wallburga) is in love with Giuseppe, the son of an enemy of her father.
It’s set in the Austrian Tyrol and the libretto is based on a story by German actress and novelist Wilhelmine von Hillern (1836–1916) Die Geyer-Wally, Eine Geschichte aus den Tyroler Alpen (The Vulture-Wally: A Story from the Tyrolean Alps).
The opera’s best known for this aria, which is from Act I – Ebben? Ne andrò lontana – and in which Wallburga’s singing about her decision to leave home forever. In the end, she makes a great death by throwing herself into an avalanche.
Maria Callas, singing the aria in the You Tube video above, needs no introduction.
The opera’s not often performed, apparently because it’s really difficult to stage an avalanche. I would have thought modern technology could easily get round that. For instance, how about a huge screen as a backdrop featuring an actual avalanche and the soprano just leaps – in the direction of the screen – over a short wall disguised as the edge of a snow-clad cliff? She lands happily on a mattress or twenty!
I’m working on voice projection now, which presents new problems. One of these, for me, is that it’s easier to sing flat (and I need no help in this) when trying to sing more strongly. What did I sound like singing this aria? Can you guess from this Wikipedia extract:
The normal territorial call is … a trill consisting of more than 4 individual calls per second given in rapid succession (although the sound does not resemble screeching or screaming). They also have a kind of song which is used in courtship and, as a duet, between members of a pair.
Yes, it’s describing a Screech Owl! (I wish I were as beautiful as this one here. Isn’t it lovely?)
Sing along! To Ebben, not the owl – you’ll find the lyrics in both Italian and in English, here. (The Aria Database).
- CD Review: ‘Hérodiade’ (theepochtimes.com)