Claudia, The Opera Critic
age: 12 years

Un Bel Dì Vedremo...  One Beautiful Day We Will See...
Sung by the soprano, Maria Callas

 


This aria is from the opera called Madama Butterfly.  It was composed by Giacomo Puccini and was first performed at il Teatro alla Scala di Milano in 1904. 

It is a Japanese tragedy - una tragedia giapponese.

This aria is sung by a character called Cio-Cio-San, also known as Madama Butterfly.  She is Japanese. 

This is the story:


She marries an American navy lieutenant whilst he is based in Japan.   Madama Butterfly loves her new husband very much but he does not take their marriage very seriously.

He sails back to America, and Madama Butterfly is left sad and lonely in Japan.  Three years go by and still he has not returned.  During this time, Madama Butterfly gives birth to their baby son.

Here is the terrible thing:- she does not know that her husband is now engaged to an American lady and that he plans to marry her, abandoning Madama Butterfly!

Whilst singing this aria, she is looking out to the sea and hoping that one beautiful day she will see her husband's ship on the horizon.  At this moment in time, Madama Butterfly does not know if he will ever return, but she lives in hope. 

 

The first words of the aria:
Un bel dì vedremo  One beautiful day we will see
levarsi un fil di fumo  a thread of smoke rising
sull'estremo confin del mare  on the far horizon of the sea
e poi la nave appare.  and then the ship appearing. 

 

Worksheet

The Opinion of Claudia:
 

Poor Madama Butterfly!  I really don't like her husband's behaviour.  Who knows if he will ever return?  How dare he treat his wife like that when she loves him so much!   He makes me feel angry and Madama Butterfly makes me feel sad.

At times, Madama Butterfly sings slowly with a delicate and quivering voice as if she is in deep thought but hopeful.  At other times, she bursts into high, long notes, as if she is worried and panicking - especially towards the end of the aria

The orchestra's music is mostly quiet and slow, with moments of no orchestra at all.  It gives me the impression that the soprano's voice is leading 'at the front' and the accompanying music is following 'at the back.'

I really think the soprano sings the aria very beautifully - with a mixture of quiet, thoughtful moments that seem in control and other loud moments that seem worried and out of control.

At the end of this performance, I would call out Brava! and Bravissima!   I would also be clapping for a very long time.  The soprano must feel exhausted after such intense singing so she deserves extra-long applause.


 


Watch a video of this opera (go to Video 3)

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