Parigi e la citta.
Jose Cura La Rondine (Act I): Parigi! è la città dei desideri
In the opera La Rondine by Puccini, the young Ruggero arrives in Paris for the first time and Puccini lets him sing an ode to the City of Light.
The aria is difficult to find. I waded through a few scores online only to find that it was cut. Thank the Lord above that I was able to lay my hands on my old Jose Cura CD from 1997 and access the liner notes for a translation because there is nothing online.
The aria does not move the plot of the story along, but without it Ruggero, the romantic lead, has nothing to say in the first act. Beyond giving Ruggero something to say, the music is gorgeous. It’s one of those arias that is almost too easy to love. Puccini never makes us work for it. He never strings us along. We fall in love with him all at once on the first hearing.
The aria was added by Puccini in much the same fashion as the Act III aria in Madama Butterfly was added for the tenor because, without it, he doesn’t do anything except show up and shout “Butterfly, Butterfly” as the curtain closes.
I’m bringing this aria up because I feel as though it is a fitting tribute to Paris in light of recent events.
Translation of Parigi e la citta:
Paris! It's the city of desire...which in one's dreams seems to shine with charms and hopes!
It's everyone's goal!
It's the voice of the siren!
Its confusion takes us from the timid, peaceful simplicity of the countryside, and makes us swoon, since our soul is frank and happy.
Here, amid the crowds, it's like walking through the pleasures of dreamed-of enchantments, and peace is swept away in the new agitation of desire.
So: I am here for you to guide my steps in this immense, infinite vastness which is the light of life.