To my way of thinking, this is the finest recording of "Cortegiani...." ever made. Gobbi had a near-miraculous ability to act with his voice, and was easily one of the greatest singing actors of them all. To this, add a fine voice and superb musicianship, and we have one of the greatest opera singers of the 20th century. The vocal, emotional and stylistic range in this aria is incredible: from the violent outburst of fear and rage in the beginning to the heart-breaking despair of pleading and begging to which the pitiful jester is reduced covers a kind of emotional cosmos. It is much too easy to bellow one's way through the role of Rigoletto, and far too many have done it. The dynamic range covered in this bit of singing represents an artistic standard that few baritones meet, but one toward which all should aspire.
Watch videos with other singers performing Cortigiani vil razza dannata:
RIGOLETTO Sì, la mia figlia! d'una tal vittoria... Che? adesso non ridete? Ella è là... la vogl'io... la renderete. Corre verso la porta di mezzo, ma i cortigiani gli attraversano il passaggio.
Cortigiani, vil razza dannata, Per qual prezzo vendeste il mio bene? A voi nulla per l'oro sconviene, Ma mia figlia è impagabil tesor. La rendete! o, se pur disarmata, Questa man per voi fora cruenta; Nulla in terra più l'uomo paventa, Se dei figli difende l'onor. Quella porta, assassini, m'aprite! Si getta ancor sulla porta che gli è nuovamente contesa dai gentiluomini; lotta alquanto, poi ritorna spossato. Ah! voi tutti a me contro venite... piange Tutti contro me!... Ah! Ebben, piango Marullo... Signore, Tu ch'hai l'alma gentil come il core, Dimmi tu ove l'hanno nascosta? È là... non è vero?... Tu taci... ahimè!... Miei signori... perdono, pietate... Al vegliardo la figlia ridate... Ridonarla a voi nulla ora costa, Tutto al mondo tal figlia è per me. Signori, perdono, pietà … Ridate a me la figlia, Tutto al mondo tal figlia è per me. Pietà, pietà, Signori, pietà.
English Libretto or Translation:
RIGOLETTO Yes, my daughter! After such a sweet revenge, what? You're not laughing? She's in there… I want her… Give her back.
running towards the centre door, but finding it barred by the courtiers
Courtiers, vile, damnable rabble, how much were you paid for my treasure? There's nothing you won't do for money, but my daughter is beyond any price. Give her back … or this hand, though unarmed, will prove a dread weapon indeed. A man will fear nothing on earth when defending his children's honour. Assassins, open that door!
He again attacks the door, is dragged away from it by the courtiers, struggles awhile, then gives up, exhausted.
Ah! You're all against me! weeping All against me! Then I'll weep. Marullo, my lord, you whose soul is as gentle as your heart, tell me, where have they hidden her? She’s in there …isn't she? You don't answer… Alas! My lords, forgive me, have pity! Give an old man back his daughter! To give her back can cost you nothing now, but to me my daughter is everything. Lords, forgive me … Give me my daughter back, to me my daughter is everything. Lords, forgive me.