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About this Piece

Ardita zanzaretta

Moro, lasso, al mio duolo

Itene ò miei sospiri

Dolcissima mia vita

Don Carlo Gesualdo di Venosa was born to a wealthy landowning family in southern Italy, and though his music was revolutionary in many respects, he is today best remembered as the murderer of his adulterous first wife and her nobleman lover. Though Gesualdo married again and went on to compose a well-respected body of work, his reputation would always be linked to the murders, his fiery temperament, and his many eccentricities. Gesualdo's madrigals are the most evocative of his compositions, owing mostly to his striking use of dissonances or clashing harmonies. The texts support this musical style because of their often-tortured syntax, confusing imagery, and multiple meanings. Most of the poems Gesualdo set deal with juxtapositions of love and hate, life and death, or pleasure and pain, with these images interpreted both literally and with a sexual subtext.

- Frank Albinder

Ardita zanzaretta   Presumptuous gnat,
Morde colei che il mio cor   Bite her who breaks my heart
strugge e tiene   and keeps it
In così crude pene;   In such cruel torment;
Fugge poi e rivola   Then flee, but fly back again
In quel bel seno   In that fair bosom
che il mio cor invola,   that has stolen my heart.
Indi la prende e stringe   Then she catches it, squeezes it
e le dà morte.   and gives it
Per sua felice sorte.   Death as its happy fate
Ti moderò ancor io,   I shall bite you too,
Dolce amato ben mio,   My sweet beloved.
E semi prendi e stringi,   And if you catch me, and squeeze me,
ahi, verrò meno   ah, I shall expire
Provando in quel bel sen   At the taste of this fair bosom's
dolce veleno.   sweet poison.

Moro, lasso, al mio duolo   I die, alas, from my grief,
E chi mi può dar vita,   And the one who can give me life,
Ahi, che m'ancide e non vuol   Alas, kills me and will not come
darmi aita!   to my aid!
O dolorosa sorte,   O sorrowful fate,
Chi dar vita mi può, ahi,   The one who can bring me life, alas,
mi dà morte!   brings me death!

Itene ò miei sospiri   Go now, sighs of mine
Precipitate il volo   Rush, fly to her,
A lei che m'è cagion d'aspri martiri   the cause of my bitter suffering
Ditele, per pietà, del mio gran duolo;   Tell her, out of pity, of my great grief;
Ch'ormai ella mi sia   may she now be as compassionate to me
Come bella ancor pia   as she is beautiful
Che l'amaro mio pianto   and I shall joyfully turn
Cangerò, lieto, in amoroso canto.   My bitter weeping to loving song.

Dolcimissima mia vita   Sweetest life of mine,
a che tardate la bramata aita?   Why do you so delay the help I crave?
Credete forse que'l bel foco ond' ardo,   Can you believe the fire that now scorches me
sia per finir perchè torcete il guardo?   Will be quenched because you look away?
Ahi, non fia mai che brama   Alas, may my desire never aim for aught
il mio desire o d'amarti o morire.   Than to either love you or to die.