La donna è mobile

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"La donna è mobile" (pronounced  [la ˈdɔnna ˌɛ mˈmɔːbile] ; "Woman is fickle") is the Duke of Mantua's canzone from the beginning of act 3 of Giuseppe Verdi's opera Rigoletto (1851). The canzone is famous as a showcase for tenors. Raffaele Mirate's performance of the bravura aria at the opera's 1851 premiere was hailed as the highlight of the evening. Before the opera's first public performance (in Venice), the song was rehearsed under tight secrecy: [1] a necessary precaution, as "La donna è mobile" proved to be incredibly catchy, and soon after the song's first public performance it became popular to sing among Venetian gondoliers.

Literally "song" in Italian, a canzone is an Italian or Provençal song or ballad. It is also used to describe a type of lyric which resembles a madrigal. Sometimes a composition which is simple and songlike is designated as a canzone, especially if it is by a non-Italian; a good example is the aria "Voi che sapete" from Mozart's Marriage of Figaro.

Giuseppe Verdi 19th-century Italian opera composer

Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was an Italian opera composer. He was born near Busseto to a provincial family of moderate means, and developed a musical education with the help of a local patron. Verdi came to dominate the Italian opera scene after the era of Vincenzo Bellini, Gaetano Donizetti, and Gioachino Rossini, whose works significantly influenced him. By his 30s, he had become one of the pre-eminent opera composers in history.

Opera artform combining sung text and musical score in a theatrical setting

Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theater. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.


As the opera progresses, the reprise of the tune in the following scenes contributes to Rigoletto's confusion as he realizes from the sound of the Duke's lively voice coming from the tavern (offstage), that the body in the sack over which he had grimly triumphed, was not that of the Duke after all: Rigoletto had paid Sparafucile, an assassin, to kill the Duke, but Sparafucile had deceived Rigoletto by indiscriminately killing Gilda, Rigoletto's beloved daughter, instead. [2]

In music, a reprise is the repetition or reiteration of the opening material later in a composition as occurs in the recapitulation of sonata form, though—originally in the 18th century—was simply any repeated section, such as is indicated by beginning and ending repeat signs.


La donna %C3%A8 mobile

The aria is in the key of B major with a time signature of 3/8 and a tempo mark of allegretto. The vocal range extends from F3 to A4 with a tessitura from F3 to F4. Eight bars form the orchestral introduction, followed by a one-bar general rest. Each verse and the refrain covers eight bars; the whole aria is 87 bars long.

In music theory, the key of a piece is the group of pitches, or scale, that forms the basis of a music composition in classical, Western art, and Western pop music.

B major tonality

B major is a major scale based on B. The pitches B, C, D, E, F, G, and A are all part of the B major scale. Its key signature has five sharps. Its relative minor is G minor, its parallel minor is B minor, and its enharmonic equivalent is C major.

The time signature is a notational convention used in Western musical notation to specify how many beats (pulses) are contained in each measure (bar), and which note value is equivalent to a beat.

The almost comical-sounding theme of "La donna è mobile" is introduced immediately. The theme is repeated several times in the approximately two to three minutes it takes to perform the aria, but with the important—and obvious—omission of the last bar. This has the effect of driving the music forward as it creates the impression of being incomplete and unresolved, which it is, ending not on the tonic (B) or dominant (F) but on the submediant (G). Once the Duke has finished singing, however, the theme is once again repeated; but this time it includes the last, and conclusive, bar and finally resolving to the tonic of B major. The song is strophic in form with an orchestral ritornello.

Tonic (music) tonal center of a diatonic scale

In music, the tonic is the first scale degree of a diatonic scale and the tonal center or final resolution tone that is commonly used in the final cadence in tonal classical music, popular music and traditional music. The triad formed on the tonic note, the tonic chord, is thus the most significant chord in these styles of music. More generally, the tonic is the pitch upon which all other pitches of a piece are hierarchically referenced. Scales are named after their tonics, thus the tonic of the scale of C is the note C.

In very much conventionally tonal music, harmonic analysis will reveal a broad prevalence of the primary harmonies: tonic, dominant, and subdominant, and especially the first two of these.

Dominant (music) fifth scale degree of the diatonic scale, between the subdominant and the submediant

In music, the dominant is the fifth scale degree of the diatonic scale, called "dominant" because it is next in importance to the tonic, and a dominant chord is any chord built upon that pitch, using the notes of the same diatonic scale. The dominant is sung as sol in solfege. The dominant function has the role of creating instability that requires the tonic for resolution.

In very much conventionally tonal music, harmonic analysis will reveal a broad prevalence of the primary harmonies: tonic, dominant, and subdominant, and especially the first two of these.

The scheme I-x-V-I symbolizes, though naturally in a very summarizing way, the harmonic course of any composition of the Classical period. This x, usually appearing as a progression of chords, as a whole series, constitutes, as it were, the actual "music" within the scheme, which through the annexed formula V-I, is made into a unit, a group, or even a whole piece.

In music, the submediant is the sixth degree of the diatonic scale, the lower mediant—halfway between the tonic and the subdominant. It is also the third factor of the subdominant (IV) triad. It is occasionally called superdominant, as the degree above the dominant. It is sung la in solfege. In music theory, the submediant triad is symbolized by the Roman numeral VI if it is major or vi if it is minor.


La donna è mobile
Qual piuma al vento,
muta d'accento
e di pensiero.

Sempre un amabile,
leggiadro viso,
in pianto o in riso,
è menzognero.

La donna è mobil'.
Qual piuma al vento,
muta d'accento
e di pensier'!

È sempre misero
chi a lei s'affida,
chi le confida
mal cauto il cuore!

Pur mai non sentesi
felice appieno
chi su quel seno
non liba amore!

La donna è mobil'
Qual piuma al vento,
muta d'accento
e di pensier'! [3]

Prosaic translation
Woman is flighty.
Like a feather in the wind,
she changes in voice
and in thought.

Always a lovely,
pretty face,
in tears or in laughter,
it is untrue.

Woman is fickle.
Like a feather in the wind,
she changes her words
and her thoughts!

Always miserable
is he who trusts her,
he who confides in her
his unwary heart!

Yet one never feels
fully happy
who from that bosom
does not drink love!

Woman is fickle.
Like a feather in the wind,
she changes her words,
and her thoughts!

Prose form of language which applies ordinary grammatical structure and natural flow of speech

Prose is a form of language that exhibits a natural flow of speech and grammatical structure rather than a regular rhythmic structure as in traditional poetry, where the common unit of verse is based on metre or rhyme. Though, as T. S. Eliot noted, while "the distinction between verse and prose is clear, the distinction between poetry and prose is obscure". Developments in modern literature, including free verse and prose poetry have tended to blur any differences.

Poetic adaptation
Plume in the summerwind
Waywardly playing
Ne'er one way swaying
Each whim obeying;

Thus heart of womankind
Ev'ry way bendeth,
Woe who dependeth
On joy she spendeth!

Yes, heart of woman
Ev'ry way bendeth
Woe who dependeth
On joy she spends.

Sorrow and misery
Follow her smiling,
Fond hearts beguiling,
falsehood assoiling!

Yet all felicity
Is her bestowing,
No joy worth knowing
Is there but wooing.

Yes, heart of woman
Ev'ry way bendeth
Woe who dependeth
On joy she spends. [3]

The tune has been used in popular culture for a long time and for many occasions and purposes. Verdi knew that he had written a very popular melody, so he provided the score to the singer at the premiere, Raffaele Mirate, only shortly before the premiere and had him swear not to sing or whistle the tune outside rehearsals. [4] And indeed, people sang the tune the next day in the streets. Early, it became a barrel organ staple, and later was used extensively in television advertisements. [5] Football fans chanted new words on the melody, [6] and it was used in video games and films.

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  1. Downes, Olin (1918). The Lure of Music: Depicting the Human Side of Great Composers. Kessinger. p. 38.
  2. Rigoletto synopsis, OperaGlass, Stanford University
  3. 1 2 Piave, Francesco Maria; Verdi, Giuseppe (c. 1930). Rigoletto. Translated by Natalia MacFarren. piano vocal score, Italian/English. New York: G. Schirmer Inc. pp. 173ff.
  4. Downes, Olin (1918). The Lure of Music: Depicting the Human Side of Great Composers. New York: Harper & Brothers. p. 38.
  5. "From tomato paste to Doritos: Rigoletto aria a popular refrain" by Carrie Seidman, Sarasota Herald-Tribune , 18 October 2012
  6. Stan Hey (21 April 2006). "Tales from the terraces: The chants of a lifetime". The Independent . Retrieved 27 December 2016.