Piangea cantando... O salce! Salce!... Ave Maria Otello Giuseppe Verdi
Farewell Concert at age 65 Covent Garden, London June 8, 1926
I don't think the entire scene from this concert has been uploaded. It's a waste of time to add to the superlatives that critics, musicians, fans from her time and ours have lavished on her voice. But to very simply and succinctly illuminate the qualities of the voice and the artistic choices as they relate to the scene and character, let me quote from a YouTube commenter on another, older recording of Melba singing the Willow Song....
@AulicExclusiva: "Sopranos who emote on the word salce miss? the point. Desdemona is recalling her mother's slave's lament as in a dream, full as she is with the presentiment of doom. Her own sorrows are interspersed with the monotone words—willow, willow, willow. If the soprano boo-hoos at EVERY phrase, this alternation is lost."
"Melba does it perfectly. Her Desdemona feels her impending fate and sustains the chant-like phrases like a transfiguration. It is very vivid in the Farewell disks. Not even such flawless vocalists as Rethberg? or de los Ángeles quite get that mood of sadness and foreboding."
Watch videos with other singers performing O salce salce:
O Salce! Salce! Salce!Sedea chinandosul sen la testa!Salce! Salce! Salce!Cantiamo! Cantiamo! il Salce funebresarà la mia ghirlanda.“ad EmiliaAffrettati; fra poco giunge Otello.„Scorreano i rivi fra le zolle in fior,gemea quel core affranto,e dalle ciglia le sgorgava il corl'amara onda del pianto.Salce! Salce! Salce!Cantiamo! Cantiamo! Il Salce funebresarà la mia ghirlanda.Scendean 'augelli a vol dai rami cupiverso quel dolce canto.E gli occhi suoi piangean tanto, tanto,da impietosir le rupi.“a Emilia, levandosi un anello dal ditoRiponi quest'anello.alzandosiPovera Barbara! Solea la storiacon questo semplice suono finir:„Egli era nato per la sua gloria,io per amar…“ad EmiliaAscolta.Emilia fa qualche passoOdo un lamento.Taci. Chi batte a quella porta?
EMILIA È il vento.
DESDEMONA „Io per amarlo e per morir… Cantiamo! Cantiamo! Salce! Salce! Salce!“ Emilia, addio. Come m'ardon le ciglia! è presagio di pianto. Buona notte. Emilia si volge per partire Ah! Emilia, Emilia, Emilia ritorna e Desdemona l'abbraccia Addio, Emilia, addio! Emilia esce
English Libretto or Translation:
O Willow, Willow, Willow!She sat with her head upon her breast,Willow, Willow, Willow!Come sing! Come sing!The green willow shall be my garland.”
(to Emilia) Make haste; Othello will soon be here. “The fresh streams ran between the flowery banks, she moaned in her grief, in bitter tears which through her eyelids sprang her poor heart sought relief. Willow! Willow! Willow! Come sing! Come sing! The green willow shall be my garland. Down from dark branches flew the birds towards the singing sweet. Sufficient were the tears that she did weep that stones her sorrow shared.” (to Emilia, taking a ring from her finger) Lay this ring by. (rising) Poor Barbara! The story used to end with this simple phrase: “He was born for glory, I to love...” (to Emilia) Hark! I heard a moan. (Emilia takes a step or two.) Hush... Who knocks upon that door?
EMILIA ‘Tis the wind.
DESDEMONA“I to love him and to die.Come sing! Come sing!Willow! Willow! Willow!”Emilia, farewell.How mine eyes do itch!That bodes weeping.Good night.(Emilia turns to leave.)Ah! Emilia, Emilia, farewell!Emilia, farewell!(Emilia returns and Desdemona embracesher. Emilia leaves.)