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Ah! quel giorno ognor rammento

Opera details:

Opera title:



Giaochino Rossini




Semiramide Synopsis


Semiramide Libretto



Aria details:









Previous scene: Eccomi al fine in Babilonia
Next scene: Oh! come da quel di

Gioachino Rossini - Semiramide - "Ah! quel giorno ognor rammento" (Ewa Podles)

Singer: Ewa Podles

The role of Arsace in Rossini's "Semiramide" features several striking pieces among which his opening cavatina is certainly a crown jewel and well-worth of a compilation.

As the piece is quite long, I'm providing only one full rendition, complete with the preceding prelude and recitative. The prelude is unusual in the fact that it features several discernible symbols, rather than one central motive: the melody seems to be an invocation of Arsace's conflicting emotions, beginning as a gentle march (happiness of returning to his homeland), it quickly goes into a more minor mood (possibly, in combination with the chilling high trills for the strings in the second section, foreboding Arsace's imminent future); after a short transition, the strings are suddenly contrasted the high-playing flutes and clarinets possibly to note Arsace's entrance and amazement at the temple of Baal; the horns, an omnipresent instrument, are, of course, there to symbolize the military nature of Arsace's character. The recitative is dramatically built with several striking sections: for example, the rising orchestral and vocal line, as Arsace feels terror at being in the presence of god. But, to be fair, the recitative merely serves to introduce Arsace and his place in the plot, with rather slim dramatics. The cavatina is built around the traditional structure of "cantabile - cabaletta" but it's an arresting example of Rossini's beautiful writing. Moreover, the cantabile actually uses several of the ideas already hinted in the prelude. What's more the opening is actually employs a three-piece structure, rather than a repeat of the same melody: first, a gentle andante as Arsace begins to remember his first meeting with Azema; then, a gradualy rising and exciting section as Arsace becomes more and more agitated, remembering his lover's poor state; finally, an almost silent and breathless arioso as the warrior remembers Azema's first look. What's interesting is that the cantabile uses a very spare musical background, amounting to a bass line and several additional effects (sustained string and horn lines), making the soloist particularly vulnerable. Moreover, the cantabile almost amounts to a contrasting concerto for the voice, similar to Mercadante's flute concertos. The cabaletta is set apart from the rest of the aria by a more alive tempo which breaks the dreaminess of the cantabile. A point of interest: "Semiramide" is, perhaps, Rossini's most cabaletta-centered opera, as it is in the cabaletta where the main emotions are presented, with the cantabile being a preparation for the outpour of feelings. Arsace's cabaletta is one of the best of its' kind: virtuostic, dramatically viable, interesting harmonically and exciting at the same time.

While Arsace's aria is brilliant, one can't over-look the fact that it is sung about a woman who should have been given a more interesting role but is left with a recitative-part: Azema. Her vocal and dramatical unimportance turns the conflict between Arsace, Assur and Idreno (five of thirteen pieces are sung because of Azema) completely meaningless; moreover, Arsace doesn't even have a duet with his love to further prove his emotions. This imbalance is so strong that I sometimes feel that a couple of insertions aimed at expanding Azema would have been most welcome. But then "Semiramide" is more about music than drama :). Anyway, getting back to the compilation.

I've always wanted to do a compilation on this piece, one of my favorite of all Rossini arias. I have several renditions of the aria, but I'm going to limit the whole upload to just five:

3) Ewa Podles on her disk of "Rossini arias for contralto" under Pier Giorgio Morandi (1996).

Podles' rendition complements Horne's, as they share several important qualities that make their renditions special. Out of all the presented singers, Podles is, perhaps, the most masculine-sounding and the most aggressive which works in the context of the character. But, just like Horne, she offers several gentle moments to complement Arsace's love to Azema. What's interesting is the fact than most of Podles ornaments are elaborations of the original lines, rather than complete rewritings. Unusually, I find this to be one of the renditions where the singer actually manages to outsing the orchestra which is rather unremarkable here, compared to the quality of the singing. Still, I would marginally prefer Horne and Larmore who are a bit more pensive, in contrast to Podles' aggressive manner. Enjoy :)!

Watch videos with other singers performing Ah! quel giorno ognor rammento:


Eccomi alfine in Babilonia. È questo
Di Belo il tempio. - Qual silenzio augusto
Più venerando ancor rende il soggiorno
Della divinità ! - Quale nel seno
A me, guerrier, nudrito
Fra l'Orror delle pugne, ora si desta,
Del Nume formidabile all'aspetto,
Insolito terror, sacro rispetto! -
E da me questo Nume
Che può voler? Morendo il genitore
Qui m'inviò: segreto
Cenno di Semiramide mi chiama
Rapido alla sua reggia... ed anelante
Ad Azema, al suo ben l'ardente core
Qui volava sull'ali dell'amore.
Ah! quel giorno ognor rammento
Di mia gloria e di contento,
Che fra' barbari potei
Vita e onore a lei serbar.
L'involava in queste braccia
Al suo vile rapitore;
Io sentìa contro il mio core
Il suo core palpitar.
Schiuse il ciglio, mi guardò...
Mi sorrise... sospirò...
Oh! come da quel dì
Tutto per me cangiò!
Quel guardo mi rapì,
Quest'anima avvampò:
Il Ciel per me s'aprì,
Amore m'animò...
D'Azema e di quel dì
Scordarmi io mai saprò.
Ministri, al gran Pontefice annunziate
Il figlio di Fradate.

English Libretto or Translation:

Here I am at last in Babylon. And this
Of Belo the temple. - What an august silence
More venerating still makes the living room
Of the deity! - Which in the breast
To me, guerrier, nudrito
Between the Orror of the fists, now he wakes up,
Del Nume formidable to the appearance,
Unusual terror, sacred respect! -
And this Nume from me
What can he want? Dying the parent
Here he sent me: secret
A note from Semiramus calls me
Quick to his palace ... and yearning
To Azema, to his well-burning core
Here he flew on the wings of love.
Ah! that day every day
Of my glory and of contentment,
That among the barbarians I could
Life and honor to her serbar.
He wrapped it in these arms
To his vile kidnapper;
I felt against my core
His palpitar core.
He opened his eyelash, looked at me ...
He smiled at me ... he sighed ...
Oh! as from that day
Everything for me changed!
That guard kidnapped me,
This soul flared up:
The Ciel opened for me,
Love moved me ...
D'Azema and that day
Forget me I'll never know.
Ministers, to the great Pope announced
The son of Fradate.

This is a partly automated translation. Please help us with corrections or provide us with a complete new translation. We will gladly mention the translator. Contact

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