This is taken from Pavarotti's first ever performance of Mario Cavaradossi, in Chicago at the Lyric Opera. A historic performance in many ways: MacNeil's return to the role of Scarpia after many years, Neblett's debut as Tosca, Pavarotti's debut as Cavaradossi, Tito Gobbi's direction of the production and Jesus Lopez-Cobos making some revisions to the score to come closer to what Puccini wanted.
In this rendition of the famous Act III aria, we get very liquid legato and excellent vocal performance with great high notes. His Cavaradossi here is definitely nostalgic and expressive, but he chooses not to go overboard with dynamic effects (although he does a subtle decrescendo and crescendo). It's a very effective interpretation in my opinion, I have heard better, but there are some aspects here that are incredible.
Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra conducted by Jesus Lopez-Cobos.
This was broadcast but the sound quality could pass it off as a studio recording.
(I included the music prior to the aria because I adore it)
Watch videos with other singers performing E lucevan le stelle:
CAVARADOSSI rimane alquanto pensieroso, quindi si mette a scrivere... ma dopo tracciate alcune linee è invaso dalle rimembranze, e si arresta dallo scrivere pensando E lucevan le stelle... ed olezzava la terra... stridea l'uscio dell'orto... e un passo sfiorava la rena... Entrava ella, fragrante, mi cadea fra le braccia... Oh! dolci baci, o languide carezze, mentr'io fremente le belle forme disciogliea dai veli! Svanì per sempre il sogno mio d'amore... L'ora è fuggita... E muoio disperato! E non ho amato mai tanto la vita!... scoppia in singhiozzi, coprendosi il volto colle mani
English Libretto or Translation:
CAVARADOSSI begins to write, but after a few lines a flood of memories invades him. And the stars shone and the earth was perfumed. The gate to the garden creaked And a footstep rustled the sand to the path … Fragrant, she entered And fell into my arms … Oh soft kisses, oh sweet abandon, As I trembling Unloosed her veils and disclosed her beauty. Oh vanished forever is that dream of love, Fled is that hour, And desperately I die. And never before have I loved so much!