Tag Archives: the barber of seville

La Nostra Siviglia

1 Nov

Crusty Doctor Bartolo doesn’t stand a chance with his ward Rosina once that picture of youthful vigor, Count Almaviva, comes to town. Plus, Almaviva’s a tenor. Practically a rock star.

Bartolo knows he’s in trouble. I almost feel sorry for him, at times. But, then comes that scene with Don Basilio, the one where Basilio proposes to Bartolo that Almaviva might be handily defeated with carefully fabricated slander.

Beaumarchais wrote Basilio’s calumny speech, but I know it (and love it) in Rossini’s musical rendition in Il Barbiere di Siviglia.

Here is the text, but I hope you will listen to Samuel Ramey sing it:

Calumny is a little breeze,
a gentle zephyr,
which insensibly,
subtly,
lightly and sweetly,
commences to whisper.

Softly softly, here and there,
sottovoce, sibilant,
it goes gliding,
it goes rambling.
Into the ears of the people,
it penetrates slyly and the heads and the brains it stuns and it swells.

From the mouth re-emerging the noise grows crescendo,
gathers force little by little,
runs its course from place to place,
seems the thunder of the tempest which from the depths of the forest comes whistling, muttering, freezing everyone in horror.

Finally with crack and crash,
it spreads afield,
its force redoubled,
and produces an explosion like the outburst of a cannon,
an earthquake,
a whirlwind,
a general uproar,
which makes the air resound.

And the poor slandered wretch, vilified, trampled down, sunk beneath the public lash, by good fortune, falls to death.

Have you heard that Obama is a Muslim?

Have you heard that Obama is a Muslim?

Have you heard that Obama is a Muslim?

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