Born today, June 19: Alfredo Catalani. “Ebben? Ne andrò lontana.”

I haven’t heard this piece since around 1984, when it was used in a French, nouveau noir, film called “Diva.” That film was the first time I’ll bet many Americans first heard it as well. It comes from the 1892 opera, “La Wally,” by Alfredo Catalani, born today June 19, 1854. I remember it grabbing people’s attention at that time, kind of like happened with the the 3rd movement from Henryk Górecki’s Third Symphony, Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. La Wally is the heroine of the opera and the aria, “Ebben? Ne andrò lontana,” which means, “So that’s how it is, eh? I’m going to blow this popcorn stand.” Wally falls in love with her father’s rival. Dad is so angry, he makes her marry another guy. Later the son of the rival insults her, whom she tells her husband to murder. The husband tries to murder the other guy unsuccessfully and Wally has a change of heart. She goes to kill herself on a mountain, and the other guy finds her and declares his love. He starts back down the mountain and calls back for her to follow, but his words set off an avalanche, which sweeps him away. Seeing this happen to her lover, La Wally jumps into the avalanche and thus to her death. The opera isn’t performed all that often because of the difficulty of simulating the avalanche on stage. This aria, however, is still popular, which is part of the plot of “Diva.”

%d bloggers like this: