Nel dolce dell’oblio (In the sweet oblivion of sleep)

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Nel dolce dell’oblio (In the sweet oblivion of sleep), Georg Friedrich Händel

In the sweetness of slumber, although sleeping,
my beloved Phyllis’
thoughts are waking.
And in the stillness Cupid never ceases
to disturb her peace
in many different ways while she sleeps.

Since sleep deceives her
with the illusion of her lover’s image,
she imagines, in the stillness,
that she is embracing his chains.

Thus she remains faithful to the beloved heart
and in the shade she breathes
the sunlight that she loves so dearly.

The deception enjoys it
when thoughts are overwhelmed by feelings
and believe the dream to be true.
But when thoughts, on waking,
reveal the error:
then the deception feels its pain.
Translation by J. Whybrow


Nel dolce dell’oblio, benché riposi,

la mia Filli adorata

veglia coi pensier suoi.

E in quella quiete Amor non cessa mai,

con varie forme,

la sua pace turbar mentre elle dorme.

Giacché il sonno a lei dipinge

la sembianza del suo bene,

nella quiete né pur finge

d’abbracciar le sue catene.

Cosi fida ella vive al cuor che adora,

e nell’ombra respira

la luce de quel sol per cui sospira.


Ha l’inganno il suo diletto

Se i pensier mossi d’affetto,

stiman ver cio che non sanno.

Ma se poi si risveglia a un tale errore

il pensier ridica a noi:

ha l’inganno il suo dolore.

Villanelle, Hector Berlioz

Text by Théophile Gautier, Translation by Bard Suverkrop

When comes the new season,

When the cold has vanished,

Both of us will go, my beauty,

To gather the lilies of the valley in the woods;

Beneath our feet scattering the pearls of dew

That we see in the morning trembling,

We will go to hear the blackbirds


The spring has come, my beauty,

It is the month by the lovers blessed,

And the bird preening its wing

Sings his verses on the edge of the nest.

Oh! Come then to this mossy bank,

To speak of our beautiful love,

And tell me with your voice so sweet:


Far, very far, straying from our path

We make the hidden rabbit flee,

And the deer, mirrored in the spring,

Admires his great lowered antlers;

Then, to our home we will return, all happy, all content,

like baskets interwoven are our fingers,

We return bringing some strawberries of the woods.

Quand viendra la saison nouvelle,

Quand auront disparu les froids,

Tous les deux nous irons, ma belle,

Pour cueillir le muguet aux bois;

Sous nos pieds égrenant les perles

Que l’on voit au matin trembler,

Nous irons écouter les merles


Le Printemps es venu ma belle;

C’est le mois des amants béni,

Et l’oiseau, satinant son aile,

Dit ses vers au rebord du nid.

Oh! Viens donc sur ce banc de mousse,

Pour parle de nos beaux amours,

Et dis moi de ta voix si douce:


Loin, bien loin, égarant nos courses,

Faisons fuir le lapin caché,

Et le daim au miroir des sources

Admirant son grand bois penché;

Puis, chez nous, tout heureux, tout aises,

En paniers enlaçant nos doigts,

Revenons, rapportant des fraises des bois.

L’absence (Absence), Hector Berlioz

Trans. Bard Suverkrop

Return, return, my beloved!
Like a flower far from the sun,
the flower of my life is closed
far from your brilliant smile!

Between our hearts what distance!

What space between our kisses!
O bitter fate! O hard absence!
O great, unappeasable desires!

Return, return…

Between here and there what fields,
what cities and towns,
what valleys and mountains
to weary the feet of the horses!

Return, return…

Reviens, reviens, ma bien aimé!

Comme une fleur loin du soleil,
La fleur de ma vie est fermée
Loin de ton sourire vermeil!

Entre nos cœurs quelle distance! 

Tant d’espace entre nos baisers!
O sort amer! ô dure absence!
O grands désirs inapaisés!

Reviens, reviens…

D’ici là-bas que de campagnes,
Que de villes et de hameaux,
Que de vallons et de montagnes,
A lasser le pied des chevaux!

Reviens, reviens…

Le spectre de la rose (The ghost of the rose), Hector Berlioz

Text by Théophile Gautier, Translation by Bard Suverkrop

Lift your closed eyelids,
touched by a virginal dream!
I am the ghost of a rose
which you wore last night at the ball.

You took me, still pearled

with silver tears from the watering can,
and, throughout the star-filled festival
you carried me all the evening.

Oh you who were the cause of my death,

without your being able to chase it away,
every night my rose-colored ghost
will dance by your pillow.

But fear nothing; I claim

neither mass nor requiem.
This light perfume is my soul,
and I have come from paradise.

My destiny is worthy of envy

and to have a fate so beautiful
more than one might have given his life;
since your bosom is my tomb,

And upon the alabaster where I rest

a poet has written with a kiss:
“Here lies a rose
which all kings envy.”
Soulève ta paupière close
Qu’effleure un songe virginal!
Je suis le spectre d’une rose
Que tu portais hier au bal.

Tu me pris, encore emperlée

Des pleurs d’argent, de l‘arrosoir,
Et, parmi la fête étoilée,
Tu me promenas tout le soir.

O toi qui de ma mort fut cause,

Sans que tu puisses le chasser,
toute les nuits mon spectre rose
A ton chevet viendra danser.

Mais ne crains rein, je ne réclame

Ne messe ni De Profundis,
Ce léger parfum est mon âme,
Et j’arrive du paradis.

Mon destin fut digne d’envie,

Et pour avoir un sort si beau
Plus d’un aurait donné sa vie;
Car sur ton sein j’ai mon tombeau,

Et sur l’albâtre où je repose

Un poète avec un baiser
Ecrivit: “Ci-git une rose,
Que tous les rois vont jalouser.”

Blumengruß (Flower Greeting), Hugo Wolf

Text by Goethe, Translation by Bard Suverkrop

The bouquet, that I picked,

Greets you many thousand times!

I have myself often bent over it,

Ah, indeed a thousand times,

And it to the heart pressed

How many hundred thousand times!

Der Strauß, den ich gepflücket,

Grüße dich viel tausendmal!

Ich habe mich oft gebücket,

Ach, wohl eintausendmal,

Und ihn ans Herz gedrücket

Wie hunderttausendmal!

Gleich und gleich (One and the same), Wolf

From the ground, a little flower-bell

Had sprouted early in lovely blossom;

Then came a little bee and sipped from it gently:

They surely must have been made for each other.

Text by Goethe, Translation by Bard Suverkrop

Ein Blumenglöckchen vom Boden hervor

War früh gesprosset in lieblichem Flor;

Da kam ein Bienchen und naschte fein:

Die müssen wohl beide für einander sein.
Die Spröde (The coy one), Wolf

On the purest of spring mornings

Walked the shepherdess and sang,

Young and beautiful and without cares,

That her song resounded over the fields,

So lala! Lerallala! So lala, rallala!

Thyrsis offered her for a little kiss,

two, three sheep right on the spot.

Roguishly she looked a little while,

But she sang and laughed on:

So lala! Lerallala! So lala, rallala!

And another offered her ribbons,

And the third offered his heart;

But she made, with heart and ribbons,

So as with the lambs, a joke:

Only lala! Lerallala!
Text by Goethe, Translation by Bard Suverkrop

An dem reinsten Frühlingsmorgen

Ging die Schäferin und sang

Jung und schön und ohne Sorgen,

Dass es durch die Felder klang,

So lala! Lerallala! So lala, rallala!

Thyrsis bot ihr für ein Mäulchen

Zwei, drei Schäfchen gleich am Ort,

Schalkhaft blickte sie ein Weilchen;

Doch sie sang und lachte fort:

So lala! Lerallala! So lala, rallala!

Und ein Andrer bot ihr Bänder,

Und der Dritte bot sein Herz;

Doch sie trieb mit Herz und Bändern

So wie mit den Lämmern Scherz,

Nur lala! Lerallala!

Die Bekehrte (The repentant one), Wolf

In the glow of the sunset

I walked silently the woods through,

Damon sat and blew his flute

So that it from the rocks resounded:

So lala! Rallala! Lalala!

And he drew me down to him,

Kissed me so gently and sweetly,

And I said “blow again”

And the good youth blew,

So lala! Rallala! Lalala!

My peace is now lost,

My joy has flown away,

And I hear before my ears

Always only the old tones,

So lala! Rallala! Lalala!
Text by Goethe, Translation by Bard Suverkrop

Bei dem Glanz der Abendröte

Ging ich still den Wald entlang,

Damon saß und blies die Flöte,

Dass es von den Felsen klang,

So lala! Rallala! Lalala!

Und er zog mich zu sich nieder,

Küsste mich so hold, so süß,

Und ich sagte: “Blase wieder!”

Und der gute Junge blies,

So lala! Rallala! Lalala!

Meine Ruh’ ist nun verloren,

Meine Freude floh davon,

Und ich hör’ vor meinen Ohren

Immer nur den alten Ton,

So lala! Rallala! Lalala!

Frühling übers Jahr (Spring all year long), Wolf

The flowerbed already loosens and lifts upward!

Little bells, white as snow, are swaying there;

Crocuses unfold their powerful glow,

Some buds are emerald green, some blood-red;

Primroses strut so pertly,

Roguish violets, hidden with diligence;

What all is there stirs and weaves,

Enough, the spring is active and alive.

But that which flowers most richly in the garden,

That is my sweetheart’s charming spirit.

There her glances constantly radiate for me,

Her songs excite me, her words cheer me.

Her heart is ever open and blossoming,

Kindly when earnest, and honest in play.

Although summer brings the rose and the lily,

it competes with my sweetheart in vain.

Text by Goethe, Translation by Bard Suverkrop

Das Beet, schon lockert sich’s in die Höh’!

Da wanken Glöckchen so weiß wie Schnee;

Safran entfaltet gewalt’ge Glut,

Smaragden keimt es und keimt wie Blut;

Primeln stolzieren so naseweis,

Schalkhafte Veilchen, versteckt mit Fleiß;

Was auch noch alles da regt und webt,

Genug, der Frühling, er wirkt und lebt.

Doch was im Garten am reichsten blüht,

Das ist des Liebchens lieblich Gemüt.

Da glühen Blicke mir immerfort,

Erregend Liedchen, erheiternd Wort.

Ein immer offen ein Blütenherz,

Im Ernste freundlich und rein im Scherz.

Wenn Ros’ und Lilie der Sommer bringt,

Er doch vergebens mit Liebchen ringt.
Quando men vo (Musetta’s Waltz), from La Bohème, Giacomo Puccini

Text by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, Translation by Aaron Green

When I walk alone down the street,
People stop and stare
And examine my beauty
From head to toe...
And then I savor the cravings
which from their eyes transpire
And from the obvious charms they perceive
The hidden beauties.
So the scent of desire is all around me, 
It makes me happy! 
And you who know, who remembers and yearns, 
You shrink from me?
I know why this is:
You do not want to tell me of your anguish, 
But you feel like dying!

Quando men vo soletta per la via,
La gente sosta e mira
E la bellezza mia tutta ricerca in me
Da capo a pie'...
Ed assaporo allor la bramosia
Sottil, che da gli occhi traspira
E dai palesi vezzi intender sa
Alle occulte beltà.
Così l'effluvio del desìo tutta m'aggira,
Felice mi fa!
E tu che sai, che memori e ti struggi
Da me tanto rifuggi?
So ben:
le angoscie tue non le vuoi dir,
Ma ti senti morir!

Al amor (To love) from Canciones clásicas españoles, Fernando Obradors

Text by Cristóbal de Castillejo, Translation by Zoë Pollock

Give me, love, countless kisses,

Grabbing my hair.

And one thousand one hundred after those

And after those, eleven hundred more

And after…

Those thousands, three!

And so no one can tell

Let’s throw off the tally

And start counting backwards!

Dame, amor, besos sin cuento

Asido de mis cabellos

Y mil y ciento tras ellos

Y tras ellos mil y ciento

Y después…

De muchos millares, tres!

Y porque nadie lo sienta

Desbaratemos la cuenta

Y… contemos al revés.

Chiquitita la novia (Tiny bride), Obradors

Del Cancionero Popular, Translation by Zoë Pollock


Tiny bride,

Tiny groom

Tiny living room

And bedroom.

That’s why I want

The tiny bed

And the mosquito net.



Chiquitita la novia,

Chiquitito el novio,

Chiquitita la sala

Y el dormitorio,

Por eso yo quiero

Chiquitita la cama

Y el mosquitero

Con amores, la mi madre (With love, my mother), Obradors

Text by Juan Anchieta, Translation by Zoë Pollock

With love, mother,

With love, I fell asleep;

While asleep, I was dreaming

What was veiled by my heart,

The love comforted me

With better than I deserved.

That kindness lulled me to sleep

That love gave me with love;

It allowed my pain to rest

The faith with which I served it.

With love, mother,

With love, I fell asleep.

Con amores, la mi madre,

Con amores me dormí;

Así dormida soñaba

Lo que el corazón velaba,

Que el amor me consolaba

Con más bien que merecí:

Adormecióme el favor

Que amor me dio con amor;

Dio descanso a mi dolor

La fe con que le serví.

Con amores, la mi madre,

Con amores me dormí.

Del cabello más sutil (Of the most delicate hair), Obradors

Translation by Zoë Pollock

That most delicate hair

That you have in your braid

I must make a chain

To keep you by my side.

A jug in your house,

Sweetheart, I would love to be,

To kiss you on your lips,

When you went to take a drink.


Del cabello más sutil

Que tienes en tu trenzado

He de hacer una cadena

Para traerte a mi lado.

Una alcarraza en tu casa,

Chiquilla, quisiera ser,

Para besarte en la boca,

Cuando fueras a beber.

Song from Hermit Songs, Op. 29, Samuel Barber

II. Church Bell at Night (12th century text translated by Howard Mumford Jones)\
Sweet Little bell,

Struck on a windy night,

I would liefer keep tryst with thee

Than be with a light and foolish woman.

V. The Crucifixion (From The Speckled Book, 12th century, translated by Howard Mumford Jones)
At the cry of the first bird

They began to crucify Thee,

O Swan!

Never shall lament cease because of that.

It was like the parting of day from night.

Ah, sore was the suff’ring borne

By the body of Mary’s Son,

But sorer still to Him was the grief

Which for his sake

Came upon His Mother.

VII. Promiscuity (9th century text translated by Kenneth Jackson)
I do not know with whom Edan will sleep,

But I do know that fair Edan will not sleep alone.

VIII. The Monk and His Cat (8th-9th century text translated by W.H. Auden)
Pangur, white Pangur,

How happy we are

Alone together,

Scholar and cat.

Each has his own work to do daily;

For you it is hunting, for me study.

Your shining eye watches the wall;

My feeble eye is fixed on a book.

You rejoice when your claws

Entrap a mouse;

I rejoice when my mind

Fathoms a problem.

Pleased with his own art,

Neither hinders the other;

Thus we live ever

Without tedium and envy.

Pangur, white Pangur,

How happy we are

Alone together

Scholar and cat.

Pangur, white Pangur,

How happy we are.

X. The Desire for Hermitage (8th-9th century text translated by Sean O’Faolain)
Ah! To be all alone in a little cell

With nobody near me;

Beloved that pilgrimage

Before the last pilgrimage to Death.

Singing the passing hours to cloudy Heaven;

Feeding upon dry bread

And water from the cold spring.

That will be an end to evil

When I am alone

In a lovely little corner among tombs

Far from the houses of the great.

Ah! To be all alone in a little cell,

To be a lone,

All alone,

Alone I came into the world,

Alone I shall go from it.

Steal me, Sweet Thief” from The Old Maid and the Thief, Gian Carlo Menotti

Text by Gian Carlo Menotti

What a curse for a woman is a timid man!

A week has gone by;

He had plenty of chances,

But he made no advances.

Miss Todd schemes and labors to get him some money.

She robs friends and neighbors the club and the church.

He takes all the money

With a smile that entrances…

But still makes no advances.

The old woman sighs and makes languid eyes.

All the drawers are wide open,

All the doors are unlocked…

He neither seems pleased nor shocked.

He eats and drinks and sleeps,

He talks of baseball and boxing…

But that is all.

What a curse for a woman is a timid man!
Steal me, oh steal me, sweet thief,
For time's flight is stealing my youth.
And the cares of life steal fleeting time.
Steal me, thief, for life is brief and full of theft and strife.
And then, with furtive step,
death comes and steals time and life.
O sweet thief, I pray make me glow,
before dark death steals her prey.

Steal my lips, before they crumble to dust,
Steal my heart, before death must,
Steal my cheeks, before they're sunk and decayed,
Steal my breath, before it will fade.
Steal my lips, steal my heart, steal my cheeks,
Steal, oh steal my breath,
And make me die before death will steal her prey.
Oh steal me!
For time's flight is stealing my youth.

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