Rossini's Opera: Othello/ Otello - English Libretto

English Libretto transcribed from: Othello: A Tragic Opera in Two Acts, as Performed at the New York Theatre


OTHELLO
A TRAGIC OPERA.
In Two Acts.

As Performed by the Garcia Troupe in New York in 1826, and the Italian Company at the Chesnut Street Theatre in 1833.
Composed by Rossini
PHILADELPHIA.
PUBLISHED BY C. NEAL, No. 16 South Seventh St.
1833.

DRAMATIS PERSONAE
Othello, a Moor in the Service of Venice . Signor Garcia.
Desderaona, secretly espoused to Othello . Madame Barbiere.
Elrairo, a Venetian patrician, the father of Desderaona, and enemy to Othello . Signor Angrisani.
Roderigo, the rejected lover of Desderaona, son of the Doge . Signor Coslantino.
lago,thc pretended friend of Othello . Signor Garcia, Jr.
Emilia, confidant of Desdemona . Signora Garcia.
Doge . Signor Crivelli.
Senators.
Followers of Othello.
Female attendants of Desdemona.
People.

The Scene lies in Venice.

ACT I
SCENE I.

The scene represents the Piazzetta di S. Marco, at the extremity of which, between the two columns, is seen the people, who joyfully await the landing of Othello. Ships in the distance.
Doge, Elmiro, Senators; then Othello, Iago, Roderigo and Lucio, followed by Soldiers.

People.
LONG live Othello ! long live our valiant And unconquered leader! Through him does Adria Shine again with new splendour. Valour in arms was his guide; Fortune combated at his side. The crescent of Odrissa has grown pale Beneath the lightning of his sword.

[Othello, having landed, advances towards the Doge, to the sound of military music, followed by Iago, Roderigo, and Lucio.

Oth. Fathers, we have conquered. Our perfidious enemies Have fallen to rise no more. I have rescued from their fury, Cyprus, the strength and defence of this soil, And have secured it from every future invasion. Nothing now remains for me to do. Here then I return you The dreaded sword, and place at your feet The arms and banners of the vanquished foe.

Doge. Ah ! with what reward-

Oth. Sufficiently am I compensated By the confidence you have reposed in me. A son of Africa, I am but a stranger here. But if there beats in this bosom A heart worthy of you ; if more than my native soil, This land claims my respect, admiration, and love. Let Adria own me as her son, I ask no more.

Iag. (How presumptuous a request ')

Rod. (How fatal to the wishes of my heart I)

Doge. Returned as conqueror, thou hast passed The bright goal of glory; let thine unconquered sword Repose at thy side, and, even now, as a son of Adria, come amid the voice of applause to crown Thy brow with the laurel so justly merited.

Rod. (Then shall I lose her I adore!)

[To logo.

Oth. Ah! yes, in your behalf I feel A new-born ardour animate my bosom. In your behalf the flame of valour Burns with fresh brightness in my heart. For a higher reward than this It is not allowed me to hope, (But then only shall I he happy When love crowns the wishes of my heart.)

People. Delay not: haste thee. O come away to triumph !

[Roderigo, transported with rage, is withheld by logo.

Iago. (Restrain thyself: let our revenge Be cautiously concealed.)

Oth. (O Love, disperse, the storm That has been the cause of all my woes. Upon thy pinions, Let hope he wafted to me.)

Senators and People.
Delay not: haste thee. O come away to triumph.

Exit Othello, followed by Senators and the People.

SCENE II.
Elmiro, Iago, Roderigo.

Elm. Roderigo!

Rod. Elmiro ! oh, my father nay, allow me To call thee by this name, since my heart's best treasure From thee derived her existence. But what of Desdemona, what says she? Does she remember me? shall I he happy?

Elm. Ah, what can I say to thee ? She sighs, she weeps, but conceals from me The cause of her secret grief.

Rod. But in part, at least-

Elm. I cannot now delay. I hear the sound Of the warlike trumpet. To the public pomp I must now Hasten. We shall meet again; adieu!

SCENE III.
Iago, Roderigo.

Rod. Heardst thou ?

Iag. I heard-

Rod. Can then Elmiro, Dazzled by the fallacious glory Of this presumptuous African - can he Degenerate from his ancestors, and to an unworthy alliance Sacrifice his only daughter ?

Iag. Ah! restrain, Restrain this impetuosity. Dost thou know Iago, And yet thus distrustest him? I have before my eyes All my wrongs, and thine own too; but it is by dissembling alone That we can avenge ourselves. If this wretched Outcast of Africa Has been able to rise so high, And, for thy beloved, has nourished A secret, but incautious, flame, I shall know how to oppose him. Behold these pledges I have carefully preserved ; fatal shall they prove to the haughty African.

[Showing a letter and a handkerchief.

Rod. What do I see! and can it be ?

Iag. For the present be silent: Thou shalt know all. The least delay might Render vain our attempt.

Rod. My heart fluctuates
Between hope, passion, and fear.

Iag. No. fear not: clear up That clouded brow;
Be it mine to avert the danger ; Repose on my friendship.

Rod. My overburthened soul
Derives comfort from thy lips, And i9 desirous to share The same lot with thee.
a 2
If in moments of sorrow
We have been united together, Hope in her sweet bonds Shall now unite us more closely.

Rod. Already I feel confidence Revive in my bosom.

Iag. My imagination pictures happiness As already in my grasp.
a 2
To a soul that is in anguish,
Anticipated pleasure Is rendered more grateful,
The more ardently it is desired.

Exeunt.

SCENE IV.

A room in Elmiro's Palace.
Desdemona alone.

Des. Unhappy Desdemona! now when thy love Hastens to thee, and when thou shouldst rejoice, Deep and sorrow ful sighs Breathe from thy lips,
And in darkness thou dost pour the song of wo. Ah! the silence of Othello, and the ancient hatred Which my father cherishes in his breast,
Fill my heart with fear and alarm.
My soul throbs in uncertainty,
Calm has fled my bosom :
Come and witness if I love thee,
If I guard my faith to thee.
And then, secure of thy love,
My soul, I swear to thee,
Shall rise superior to fate Or die for thee.
Death would be welcome to me Were Othello not to be mine.
Oh! what torrents of tears Have I shed for thee,
Languishing far awa
yFrom the light of those dear eyes!
Every other object
Is painful to me ;
Every thing is joyless,
Every thing hateful to me For me the heavens No longer shine bright;
No star sheds around Its wonted splendour.

SCENE V.

Emilia and the above.

Em. Unavailing is this grief; thy long sorrows Are changed into joy Loaded with laurels Thy beloved returns to us. Hark, how around Adria testifies its joy on this happy day !

Des. Ah, much do I fear, O heavens!
That he suspects me ! Thou dost well remember When thou didst cut off That lock of my hair. Alas! that dear gift Came not to the hands of Othello : my father Surprised the letter, which, with a trembling hand, I had written to him. He imagined it intended For his favouriti Roderigo, I favoured the delusion; But while the lip said it, the heart belied the words. From that day forth I have never received letters as usual
From him I adore. - A distracting doubt Agitates and confounds me-
Who knows? can he perchance have learnt That this pledge of love is in the hands of another? Can he then believe me faithless?

Em. What sayst thou ?
Love is timid, and frequently figures to itself An evil that exists not, or exists but fora moment.

Des. Would to heaven that thy imagination Did but tell me the truth !

Em. To thee it is ever sincere :
No, thou hast nothing to fear.

Des. But friendship oftentimes
Imagines that which it desires.

Em. A soul under affliction
Paints nothing to itself hut sadness. .

Des. Ah. willingly would I believe thy words!
But my heart gainsays thee.

Em. Nay, thou shouldest believe me,
And not trust that heart of thine.
a 2
Ah, how cruel are the pangs That love awakens in our bosoms !
Joy lasts but for a moment
Its sorrows are eternal.

Des. But what do I sec ! behold with hesitating step
The perfidious lago comes towards us:
Let us fly, let us avoid him . he might trace On my countenance the sorrows of love.

[Exeunt.

SCENE VI.

Iago, then Roderigo, and afterwards Elmiro.

lag. Thou fliest - thou despisest me: I no longer care
For the hand I sought-There was a time when I thought it
Useful to my wishes-Thou hast despised me For a vile African, and t his is enough.
Thou shalt repent thee, I swear it;
The secret pledges of love which I have carefully # kept
Shall all be made to serve my purpose.
But Roderigo returns ;
What has he to impart to me ?

Rod. Know'st thou where
I may find the father of my loved one ?
lag. See, he comes.

Elm. Roderigo, the fortunate moment has arrived
When the hand of my daughter Shall he given thee in marriage.

Rod. Ah, with what joy does the thought fill my bosom!
But shall I be so fortunate ?

Elm. I promise that thou shalt.

[Exeunt Rod and Iag.

At length I shall be revenged; no longer shall it be seen,
That a barbarian and a stranger shall presume to teach us,
O, humbling thought! to obey and serve him.
But my daughter approaches me.

SCENE VII.

Desdemona and Elmiro.

Des. Ah, father, permit me
Respectfully to kiss

Elm. Dearest daughter,
Come to my bosom. On this happy day I wish to share my joy with thee.

Des. (What may he mean ? I hope and fear.)
(aside.)

Elm. Banish all sorrow from thy bosom. I make thee an offer Which will prove grateful to thee.

Des. (Perchance,
The triumphs of Othello may have soothed his mind.)

Elm. In festive pomp,
And in the midst of the popular plaudits,
Prepare shortly to follow my steps. [Exit.

SCENE VIII.

A ball magnificently adorned.
A Chorus of Ladies and Gentlemen, the friends and confidants of Elmiro; then Elmiro, Desdemona, Emilia, and Roderigo.

The whole Chorus.
O sacred Hymen ! love guides thee To unite two loving hearts.
It is thine to render eternal The sweet ardours of love.

Part of Chorus.
Without him, thy noble power Would degenerate into tyranny.

Another part.
Without him all the joys of love
Would but prove the occasion of sorrow.

All.
Thrice happy moment!
At the view of such love and such valour, The mind remains filled with admiration,

Des. Where am 1 ! what do I behold !
Surely my heart has not betrayed me.

Elm. Place all th
yConfidence in me. I am thy father :
I cannot deceive thee. Pledge eternal faith To Roderigo: he deserves it, he alone Can render thee happy.

Rod.
(What will she say ?---)

Emi. (How dreadful a command!)

Des. (Wretch that I am !)

Elm. Fulfil the wishes of my heart; I repose in thee.

Des. Oh nature! oh duty ! oh law! oh spouse!
Repose, oh beloved daughter,
In the heart of a loving father :
It is love that counsels me To consult thy happiness.

Rod. My soul is confused
Amidst a thousand distracting doubts:
At so trying a moment as this Love alone can support me.

Des. Father - is it thy will - oh heavens!
That I should accept his hand ?
(To affections so tyrannic as mine Who could resist ?)

Elm. (She hesitates ! - alas! - she. sighs !
What have I not to fear !)

Rod. Canst thou, my beloved one,
Cause such anguish to this heart?

Des. Prithee peace!-

Elm. (What do I sec!)

Rod. (She scorns me'J

Elm. (She resists !)

Rod. Des. a2 (Oh heavens ! I implore Pity and aid at thy hands.)

Elm. Come, swear.

Des. What dost thou command ?

Rod. Ah come-

Des. What anguish!
Elm. If thou yield not to thy father,
He will know how to punish thee.

Rod. Let Love whisper to thy heart:
Be not unfaithful to me:
Constant to thee, this soul Can else taste of peace no more.

Elm. Let the love of a father
Serve as an example to thee:
Repose in thy father,
Who else can taste of peace no more.

Des. The rigour of fate
Overwhelms me with affliction : Unless faithful to him I can taste of peace no more.

SCENE I

xOthello at the extremity of the Stage, followed, by some of his Companions, and the above.

Oth. The ungrateful one ! alas, what do I see ?
Beside my rival!-

Elm. Daughter!

Rod. Let my tears move thee;
Let my anguish soften thee !

Elm. Resolve-

Oth. I can resist no longer!

Attend. Withhold-

Elm. Ungrateful daughter!

Rod. Des. a 2 (O heavens ! who will counsel me ? ( Who will support my fainting heart I

All. From so severe a destiny Who can rescue her?

Elm. Come, swear-

Oth. Ah! hold-

All. Othello!

My heart freezes within me!

Elm. What wouldst thou ?

Oth.
Her heart-
Love gave it me,
And love demands it, Elmiro, from thee.

Elm. What presumption!

Des. What anguish o

Rod. Thou haughty spirit!

Oth. to Des.) Remember - reserve to me
Thy faith inviolate.
R
od. And what right hast thou,
Perfidious man ! to dispute with me That heart, and strive To render it unfaithful ?

Oth. Virtue, constancy, love ;
The oath she pledged me.

Elm. Wretch that I am, what do I hear!
Thy oath ?

Des. It is true: I have sworn-

Elm. Rod a 2 Inexorable Heaven
Has exhausted its bolts upon me !

Elm. Come-

Oth. Hold-

Rod. In vain
Dost thou seek to be united to my foe-

Elm. Wretched woman ! my curse be on thee-

All. Alas! what a day of horror!

My mind fluctuates In cruel uncertainty;
My heart bids adieu To the sweets of hope.

Rod. Away, cruel one !

Oth. I despise thee ! (To Rod.

Des. Father-

Elm. It is too late for pardon.

Rod. Soon shalt thou see who I am.

Oth. Learn to dread my anger!

All. I rage, I rave, I tremble with alarm.
Never did the severities Of destiny light more severely On a devoted head !

[Elmiro takes Desdemona and leads her away. She retires, casting a look of tenderness on Othello.

END OF FIRTST ACT

ACT II.

SCENE THE FIRST.

A Room in the House of Elmiro. Roderigo and Desdkmoisa.

Des. LEAVE me.

Rod. Are then my sorrows
Ineffectual ?-and the anger of thy father?

Des. Ah, hence!
It is through thee alone I am miserable.

Rod. O heavens!
Say not so - let me but behold those eyes Beam in mildness upon rae, and I promise thee,
My hearth fair idol, to do whatever thou demandest.

Des. Ah, then appease the anger of my father; Restore to me his love; show that in that bosom Thou dost bear a great and generous soul.

Rod. But Othello, thou dost adore Othello !

Des. I am his wife.

Rod. What do I hear ! ah ! what hast thou said ? And hast thou no pity On the torments I endure,
On my slighted love ?
But if thou dost persevere In thy cruel rigour;
If thou despisest my entreaties,
And art deaf to my just complaints,
1 shall know how with this arm To sever the secret tie,
And punish the traitor.

[Exit

SCENE II.

Emilia and Desdemona.

Emi. "What has happened ? heavens ! why dost thou tremble thus ?

Des. "I shall lose for ever the idol of my heart!

Emi. "Who will tear him from thee?

Des. "His rival, Roderigo.
"I revealed to him that I was his wife-

Emi. "Ah, what hast thou done?

Des. "Repentance is now too late:
"At so fatal a moment as this,
"There is but one way open to me, by which I can reach him in safety.

Emi. "But if thou art surprised; if thy father-

Des. "I heed it not; I rise superior to fear ;
"His danger alone is present to my thought.
"Let me save him-my duty bids me do it."

Exit.

SCENE III.

A Garden in the House of Othello.
Othello sealed, in the greatest agitation, and Iago.

Iag. Why thus sad ?-arouse thyself. Ah, show Thyself Othello once again.

Oth. Leave me a pre
yTo the severity of my fate.

Iag. Of its rigour
Thou hast doubtless cause to complain ;
But it ill becomes thee, hostile as is thy destiny,
To disgrace us by falling unrevenged.

Oth. What wouldst thou have me to do ?

Iag. Hear me-why thus pensive ?
Be thyself again-thy triumphs Are sufficient to support thee-are sufficient
To abash thine enemies-to make thee Despise every other affection.

Oth. How terrible are thy words!
Thy hesitating manner, thy doubts.
Thy changeful brow ;
How deep an emotion have they awakened In my breast! Explain thyself. Ah ! keep me not In such cruel uncertainty.

Iag. More I cannot tell thee: more thou Shouldst not require my lips to utter.

Oth. Should not require !-Oh heavens ! how does
Thy silence increase my alarm!-Ah, perchance The faithless one !-

Iag. Nay, why seek
For fresh occasions of sorrow ?

Oth. Torture me no longer. I shall be less wretched If I learn the whole truth.

Iag. Well, then,
Dost thou wish it ? I will satisfy thee-what do I say ?-A chill o'erspreads me!

Oth. Nay, speak out at once.

Iag. Of what a secret am
I the bearer!
But friendship demands it;
I yield to the call of friendship. Know then-

Oth. Ah, hold, hold !-
Alas ! I comprehend all.

Iaq. And what wilt thou do ?

Oth. Avenge myself, or perish.

Iag. Perish thou must not ?
And in treating her with scorn thou wilt have sufficient revenge.

Oth. But not that terrible and fierce revenge Which I desire, and which love demands-
But I am not certain of her crime.

[hesitatingly.

Ah, should it be so !-wo betide thee-Thou, Iago.
Thou dost understand me ; to betray me
Would be no less a crime in thee.

Iag. Of what art thou thinking ?
I am all confusion-this pledge -
This letter for me will-

[gives him a letter.

Oth. Whit do I see ? O heavens!
Yes, her own hand it was that traced
These fatal characters of love.
I am not deceived ; this letter
The faithless one has sent to mv rival-
I can no longer restrain my feelings !--What anguish rends my bosom !

Iag. (Already has fierce jealousy Poured out all his poison To infect his bosom
And guides me to triumph.)

Oth. (reads) My dear love-and durst the ungrateful one!

Iag. (AH his soul is painted on his hrow.)

Oth. To thee am I faithful-Ah! what do I read?
What agonies do I f"-el in my heart!

Iag. (What joy do I feel in my heart!)

Oth. Thou didst name a pledge-O heavens !

Iag. (The flame of his wrath increases.)

Oth. Where is the horrid pledge ?

Iag. Behold it-It is with horror I give it thee !

[gives him a handkerchief

Oth. No, a soul more cruel-

Iag. (No, a soul more gratified-)
a 2 Could no where be found !

Oth. My heart is rent asunder By cruelly such as this.

Iag. (Heaven smiles propitious on me :
Yes, perish the wretch !)

Oth. What ought 1 to do ?

Iag. Be composed.

Oth. In vain dost thou hope it.

Iag. What sayest thou.

Oth. Urged on by the avenging furies,
I shall know how to punish her.

Iag. And wilt thou attempt it ?

Oth. I swear it.

Iag. And love-

Oth. I am reckless now of that.

Iag. Take confidence ; and soon I will Humble thy enemies;

Oth. I have nothing more malignant To dread from the severity of fate :
I shall die, but avenged ;
Yes-after her I shall die.

Iag. (I have nothing farther to dread From the severity of fate :
Now am I revenged ;
Now shall I triumph.)

[Exit.

SCENE IV.

Othello alone, then Roderigo.

Oth. And could her deceitful heart Lead her to do this !- but who comes ?
Roderigo-what wouldst thou with me ?

Rod. I come to thee
As thy enemy, if thou so wishest it:
But if thou wilt yield to my request,
As thy friend and defender.

Oth. I am not used
To lie and betray. I despise thee,
Friend or foe.

Rod. (Oh what presumption!) [aside.
Knowest thou me not as yet ?

Oth. Yes, I know thee.
And therefore it is I fear thee not;
Scorn, I repeat it, is alj I feel towards thee.

Rod. Come on then, with thy blood I will avenge my wrongs :
If a foolish love inflame thee,
I shall know how to extinguish it.

Oth. Shortly shalt thou see what just
Indignation I carry in my bosom Yes, I will at once be revenged Upon her, and upon thee.
a 2.
What joy ! to arms, to arms'.
Already I seem to behold
The traitor weltering on the earth.

SCENE V.

Desdkmona, and the above. ,

Des. Alas! hold-hear me- [arresting them.
Strike to this heart alone,
The cause of all these ills.
a 3.

Rod. Oth. What a moment of agony is this !
The unfaithful one before me !
She has all her infidelity Depicted on her countenance.

Des. What a moment of agony is this;
The ungrateful one before me Changes not his countenance!
Wretch that I am! what will become of me?

Oth. Come, follow me.

Rod. I follow' thee.

Oth. At length I am avenged.

Des. Hold!-

Oth. Hence!

Des. What torture is this! What unsparing barbarity !
a 3.
Oth. Rod. Des. Beneath such overwhelming woes This soul is driven to madness;
Love gives place to wrath;
The heart breathes nothings but vengeance,
[Exeunt.
Beneath such overwhelming woes,
This soul, driven even to madness,
Even now flutters on my lip:
I feel my spirit fail me
(she faints

SCENIC VI.

Emilia and the above; then a Chorus of the People,
afterwards Elmiro.

Emi. What do I see! it is Desdemona! she has swooned away-
The paleness of death is on her countenance.
Wretch ! what shall I do ; who will aid me ?
Where shall I seek for help ?
O thou, the dearer half of my soul,
Hear me! return to this bosom-
Thy friend calls thee-alas, she answers not!
Her bosom and her hand are cold?-Who has snatched her from me?
Where is the barbarian ?-would to heaven!-what do I see !-
She opens her languid eyes. O heavens, I breathe again!

Des. Who art thou?-

Emi. Dost thou not know me !

Des. Emilia.

Emi. Yes, yes ; the same, the same.
Surrounded as thou art with perils,
Come, follow my footsteps;
Save thyself for pity's sake.

Des. But shall I ever
Rehold him again?-embrace him again ?-ah, if thou knowest not,
Go, seek, find him-

Emi. And whom dost thou seek ?
I know not.

Des. Confused, overwhelmed,
I no longer recoguise my former self!
What delirium! alas, what anguish !
Who will succour me ? O heavens!
And am I then doomed for ever
To lose the idol of my heart!
Cruel, unpitying powers!
If ye tear him from me,
At least save him : kill me at once:
I shall die content.
Ah, tell me, you at least-

[To the Chorus entering.

Cho. What wouldst thou know?

Des. If the treasure of my heart still lives.

Cho. He lives, clear that sorrowful brow-

Des. Is he then safe from danger ?-
My heart asks no more.

Elm,. What, here !-worthless woman !

Des. My father!

Elm: Hast thou no shame
Of having betrayed my honour?'

Cho. O heavens! what new horror is this?

Des. Have compassion on me,
And pardon the errors of an unhappy woman: . o
If my father desert me,
Where am I to look for pity ?

Elm. No, thou art unworthy of pity ;
Thou shall shortly see. ungrateful one, What punish mint is reserved For those who abandon their duty,

Des. How my heart throbs in my bosom !
At that look of severity 1 can no longer contain myself.

Elm. Hate, fury, indignation,
Have changed every feeling of pity In this bosom into cruelty.

Cho. If she cherishes in her bosom An unlawful affection,
Such cruelty is just

[Exit Chorvs with JDesdemona.

SCENE VII.

Elmiro and Emilia.

Emi " Ah, hold, Sir!
[retaining him.

Elm. Leave me, worthless woman !
" Thou whom I believed so prudent,
" Whom with full confidence " I ever left at the side of Desdemona, a Hast, as a partner in her infamy,
Thyself betrayed me; and now thou presumest To retain me here.

Emi. " Hear me ! ah, I tremble with alarm !"

Elm. Thou dost tremble, art confounded, and abashed
Dost fix thine eyes on the earth.

Emi. Sir!

Elm. ' Speak:
Clear up a horrid doubt-Is the measure Of my shame filled up ? Is she the victim Of the base Othello ?

Emi. Ah! Sir,
She is his spouse.

Elm. Spouse ! but how
Did she contrive to elude my vigilance ?
What presumptuous priest united their hands?
Go, in vain thou wouldst deceive a wounded heart: I have decided ; let me hence.

Emi. Whither?

Elm. To the senate.

Emi. Nay, hold !

Elm. I am deaf to thy entreaties.

Emi. Ah, for pity's sake !

Elm. I demand vengeance.

Emi. Ah, Sir!

Elm. She has destroyed my honour.

Emi. It is not true.

Elm. I believe thee not.
My vengeance shall light On her vile seducer.

Emi. No, thy honour is unsullied :
I swear it to thee ; heaven knows it.
a 2.
Heaven grant me/him to believe
If my/her lip speak the truth,
It is still capable
Of restoring peace to this bosom.

Elm. Show me then
Where was the altar;
From whom received she Counsel and aid ?

Emi. In presence of heaven,
Was the sacred rite performed. Fulfilled was every duty By love and faith.

Elm. Explain ; I will have it so.

Emi. No, I cannot.

Elm. Then, perfidious one, farewell!

Emi. Stop-ah, woe is me !
Thou shall be satisfied ;
Thou shalt know all.
Alone, in the garden,
Go and await me ;
Alone and unseen I will meet thee;
And there will reveal The whole to thee.
a 2.
All! a ray of comfort Breaks serenely upon me To calm my bosorn :
My soul breathes again :
And joy and love Console my sorrows.

SCENE VIII.

A Bedchamber.
Emilia, Desdemona, in simple attire, stretched on a seat, and buried in the deepest grief.

Des. Alas!

Emi. Oppressed with grief,
She seems out of herself!

[A Gondolier is heard at a distance, who sings a soft air.

Gon. " Their is no greater woe,
" Than in hours of deep distress,
" To recal past happiness." [Dante.)

[On hearing the song. Deesdemona raises herself

Des. Oh, how do those sounds Penetrate to my inmost heart'

[She rises, and with transport flies to the window.

Who art thou that singest thus? - Ah, thou dost remind me Of my unhappy lot!

Emi. It is the gondolier, who with a song beguiles His way on the placid lake.
Thinking of his sons, as he sees the sky beginning
to overcast ' %

Des. Isaura! Isaura !

Emi. " She calls her friend,
Who was brought a slave from Africa, and whom " She imagines near to her, but who is no more.

Des. "Thou, too, wert unhappy "Like myself, but now thou reposest in peace.

Emi. "O how true it is, that, to a heart oppressed with wo,
"The sorrows of others easily attacli themselves."

Des. O thou sweet soother of my woes,

[Takes her harp.

Again I resume thee;
And in my plaintive song
I mingle the sigh of Isaura and my own sorrows:

Seated at the foot of a willow.
Immersed in grief,
Complained the hapless Isaura,
A prey to relentless Jove ;
The breeze amid the mournful branches Repeated the sound.
The lucid rills o Mingled the murmur Of their passing waves o
With her burning sighs:
The breeze and the mournful branches Repeated the sound.
O willow, thou favourite of love,
Lend thy pitying shade,
When hushed are all my sorrows,
To my sad urn :
When the breeze no more repeats The sound of my lament.

What have 1 said !-Ah, I was wrong!-This is not the end
Of the melancholy song. Hear me-O Heavens!

(a blast shatters some of the panes of the window.

What noise is that!
What fatal presage!

Emi. Fear not! look,
It is only the wind that blew' with violence.

Des. I thought that some one-Oh, how heaven Sympathizes in my laments!-
Listen to the end of this plaintive ditty.
But wearied at length of pouring forth Her sighs and laments,
Alas! the afflicted virgin Breathed her last under that willow !
She breathed her last. How sad! the ungrateful man Alas, I am unable to continue
The melancholy song;! Go, receive From the lips of thy friend her last kiss.

Emi. Ah, what say'st thou !-I obey - Ob, what trembling seizes me! [Exit.

Des. Oh, calm, ye heavens, in slumber
For a while at least, my sorrows; Grant that the beloved of my heart May come to console me.
But, if my prayers are. vain,'
Let him shortly come at least To bathe with his tears Tile dust within my urn.

[She draws the curtain, and throws her self on the bed.

SCENE IX.

Othello enters the chamber of Dksdemona by a secret door, holding in the one hand a lighted Lamp, and in the other a dagger ; lastly, Lucio.

Oth. Alone and unobserved I have reached The fatal chamber-lago has rescued me From the danger that awaited me. He knew how To guide my footsteps hither.

(He remains for a moment lost in thought, then looks carefully around.

This silence declares That, secure of my departure,
She dreams of my rival, and cares no more for me.

(looking towards the curtains of the bed.

How much thou art deceived ! soon shall he lie stretched on the earth-
What have I said ! - No, never let my criminal wish be fulfilled!

[He advances softly towards the bed, and opens the curtains in the greatest agitation.

What do I see ! alas!-those eyes, though closed, Speak to my heart! that face, on which Nature has impressed the sweetest expression of entreaty.
Overcomes and disarms me !

(confused he retires from the bed.

But if she is no longer mine-why spare her?
Let her perish !-and yet where can

(again approaching the bed.

Another such he found !

(again he withdraws.

rom her perplexed and irresolute. Hers is the fault,
If, dreading the sight of me,
She keeps at a distance from me. Why, barbarous heaven !
Didst thou not give me a countenance on which my heart ,
Might have been seen pictured ? then, perchance- What do I suy ! - Does not her treachery Merit my rigour? Let the worthless one die! -

(again approaching the bed.

All, my hand trembles still: cruel delay !

(looking at the light.

Behold the cause-put out the light. O night

(he places the lamp on the ground.

That with thy darkness shouldst eternally Veil this brow to cover the horror Of this unhappy day !

Des. (in her sleep.) My dear beloved !

Oth. What do I hear! Ah, that name!
Sleeps she, or is she awake ?

(A flash of lightning that passes across the window shows him that she ie asleep.

Ah, heaven with its lightnings Shows me more clearly her crime,
And invites me to complete my vengeance.

[A loud clap of thunder is heard. Desdemona awakes, and amid the frequent fashes of lightning recognises Othello.
Wretch !

Des. Ah, what do I see
How earnest thou hither !
And canst thou ? but no-contented I offer thee My defenceless bosom,
If that soul is dead to the voice of pity-

Oth. Thou has betrayed it, cruel one!

Des. I am innocent
O
th. And darest thou still, perjured one-
I can contain no longer.

[The storm increases; the peals of thunder succeed each other with violence.

Des. O heaven, if thou punishest me
Thy severity is just.

[The thunder ceases, but the lightnings continue.

Oth. Darest thou thus insult me !
And do I still withhold my hand ?

Des. Kill me-haste thee, cruel man I To satiate thy vengeance.

Oth. Be my vengeance appeased!

[He stabs her.

Des. Ah me!-

Oth. Die, faithless one!

[Othello withdraws from the bed in the greatest disorder and dread : seeks to conceal his crime, and the object of his
grief by drawing the curtains of the bed. After a short silence, a knocking is heard.

What do I hear!-Who knocks?

Luc. Othello!

Oth. That voice !-
O fierce remorse
Hide thyself in this heart.

[Othello opens the door.

Oth. Roderigo ?

Luc. . Is safe.

Oth. And Iago ?

Luc. . Has perished.

Oth. ' Ah, who punished him ?

Luc. Heaven and love.

Oth. What say'st thou-and dost thou believer

Luc. He himself, surprised,
Revealed his deceit,
And perfidious attempts.

Oth. What do I hear ?-

Luc. - Yes, all parties
Are now satisfied.

Oth. Under such a weight of anguish
I can no longer contain myself!

SCENE THE LAST.

Elmilo, Roderigo, with attendants, and the above

Luc. Ah, yes? the Senate
Has pardoned your fault.

Elm. I now return appeased
As a father to thy bosom.

Rod. The perfidious Iago
Has changed my resentment Into affection :
I yield to thee thy heart's treasure.

Oth. What anguish!

Cho. What joy!

Rod. Receive in thy heart The public love.
And my friendship.

Elm. The hand of my daughter-

Oth The hand of thy daughter !

[confounded.

Yes-I must be united to her-
Behold !-

(Opens the curtains.

Elm. What do I see !-

Oth, I thus punish myself!-

(He kills himself:

All. Ah!

Source:  Transcription from


Italian Libretto available from http://opera.stanford.edu/iu/libretti/rotello1.html (Aug2018)

Last updated: Feb. 14, 1997
Go to the Libretto Homepage
OTELLO
By: Gioachino Rossini
Atto Primo

Scena: Un atrio apparato, in fondo del quale fra alcuni archi vedesi il lido coperto di popolo, che attende festoso lo sbarco di Otello. Navi in distanza. Doge, Elmiro and Senatori seduti.

No. 1 INTRODUZIONE
POPOLO
Viva Otello, viva il prode,
delle schiere invitto duce!
Or per lui di nuova luce
torna l'Adria a sfolgorar.
Lui guidò virtù fra l'armi
militò con lui fortuna.
Si oscurò l'Odrisia luna
del suo brando al fulminar.
MARCIA
[ Sbarcato Otello, si avanza verso il Doge al suono d'una marcia militare, seguito da Iago,e da Rodrigo. ]

No. 2 DUETTO E CORO
OTELLO
Vincemmo, o prodi, I perfidi nemici
caddero estinti. Al lor fuoror ritolsi
sicura ormai d'ogni futura offesa
Cipro, di questo suol
forza e difesa.
Null'altro a oprar mi resta. Ecco vi rendo
l'aaciar temuto; e delle vinte schiere
depongo al vostro piede armi e bandiere.
DOGE
Qual premio al tuo valor chieder potrai?

OTELLO
Mi compensaste assai
nell'affidarvi in me. D'Africa figlio,
quí straniero son io; ma se ancor serbo
un cor degno di voi, se questo suolo
puì che patria rispetto, ammiro, ed amo,
m'abbia l'Adria qual figlio: altro non bramo.

IAGO
(Che superba richiesta!)

RODRIGO
(Ai voti del mio cor fatale è questa.)

DOGE
Tu d'ogni gloria il segno
vincitor trascorresti. Il brando invitto
riponi al fianco, e già dell'Adria figlio
vieni trai i plausi a coronar il crine
del meritato alloro.

RODRIGO [ a Iago ]
(Che ascolto? ahimè! perduto ho il mio tesoro.)

IAGO [ a Rodrigo ]
(Taci, non disperar.)

OTELLO
Confusio io sono
a tante prove e tante
d'un generoso amor. Ma meritarle
poss'io, che nacqui sotto ingrato cielo,
d'aspetto, e di costumi
sì diverso da voi?

DOGE
Nascon per tutto,e rispettiam gli eroi.

OTELLO
Ah! sì, per voi già sento
nuovo valor nel petto:
Per voi d'un nuovo affetto
sento infiammarsi il cor.
Premio maggior di questo
a me sperar no lice.

OTELLO
(Ma allor sarò felice
quando il coroni Amor.)
[ Rodrigo nel massimo dispetto si vorebbe scagliare su di Otello: Iago lo trattiene. ]

IAGO [ a Rodrigo ]
(T'affrena, la vendetta
cauti dobbiam celar.)

POPOLO
Non indugiar,
deh vieni a trionfar.
OTELLO
(Amor, dirada il nembo
cagion di tanti affani;
comincia coi tuoi vanni
la speme a ravvivar.)


Ah! sì, per voi già sento, ecc.

SENATORI E POPOLO
Non indugiar, t'affretta,
deh vieni a trionfar.

[ Parte Otello sequito dai Senatori e dal popolo. ]

No. 3 RECITATIVO E DUETTO
[ Entra Elmiro; Iago va in disparte. ]
ELMIRO
Rodrigo! . . .

RODRIGO
Elmiro! ah padre mio! deh! lascia
che un tal nome ti dia, se al mio tesoro
desti vita sì cara.
Ma che fa mai Desdemona? . . . che dice? . . .
Sì ricorda di me? . . . sarò felice?

ELMIRO
Ah! che dirti poss'io?
Sospira, piange, e la cagion mi cela
dell'occulto suo duol.

RODRIGO
Ma in parte almeno . . .

ELMIRO
Arrestarmi non posso; odi lo squillo
delle trombe guerriere:
Alla pubblica pompa ora degg'io
volgere il piè; ci rivedremo: addio.
[ Parte. ]

RODRIGO [ a Iago ]
Udisti?

IAGO
Udii . . .

RODRIGO
Dunque abbagliato Elmiro
dalla gloria fallace
dell'Afro insultator, potrebbe ei forse,
degenerar dagli avi, a un nodo indegno
sagrificar l'unica figlia?

IAGO
Ah, frena,
frena gl'impeti alfin . . . Iago conosci,
e diifidi così? Tutti ho presenti
i miei torti, ed i tuoi: ma sol fingendo
vendicarci saprem. Se quell-indegno,
dell'Africa rifiuto,
or qui tant'alto ascese,
e pel tuo ben s'accese
d'occulta, incauta fiamma,
oppormi a lui saprò. Sol questo foglio.
basta a domare il suo crudele orgoglio.
[ Gli porge un foglio. ]

RODRIGO
Che leggo? e come mai . . .

IAGO
Per or t'accheta.
Tutto saprai: ogni ritardo or puote
render vana l'impresa.

RODRIGO
Onedggia il core
fra la speme, lo sdegno ed il timore.

IAGO
No, non temer, serena
l'addolorato ciglio:
Prevenni al tuo periglio,
fidati all'amistà.

RODRIGO
Calma sui labbri tuoi
trova quest'alma opressa,
ed una sorte istessa
con te dividerà.

IAGO, RODRIGO
Se uniti negli affani
noi fummo un tempo insieme,
ora una dolce speme
più stretti ci unirà, sì sì.

RODRIGO
Nel seno già sento
risorger l'ardire.

IAGO
Vicino il contento
mi pinge il pensier.

IAGO, RODRIGO
A un'alma, che pena
si rende più grato
quant' è più bramato,
atteso piacer.
[ Partono. ]

No. 4 RECITATIVO E DUETTO

Scene: A room in Elmiro's residence.
EMILIA
Inutile è quel pianto. Il lungo affanno
sì transformi in piacer. Carco di allori
a noi riede il tuo bene. Odi d'intorno
come l'Adria festeggia un sì bel giorno.

DESDEMONA
Emilia, ah tu ben sai
quanto finor penai,
come quest'alma
al racconto fedel del suo periglio,
del suo valore, palpitando, incerta,
si piangea sul mio ciglio,
e fra i palpiti miei, fra le mie pene,
quante volte dicea: Perchè non viene?
Ed or ch' è me vicino
mi veggo in preda al più crudel destino.

EMILIA
E perchè mai?

DESDEMONA
Sì, questa sua gloria accresce
in me per lui l'affetto,
come nel padre mio l'odio e il dispetto.

EMILIA
Sicura del suo core, ogni altra tema
inutile si rende.

DESDEMONA
Ah! ch'io pavento
ch'ei sospetti di me. Ben ti sovviene
quando parte tu stessa
del mio crin recidesti. Ah! che ad Otello
dono sì caro allor non giunse; il padre
soprese il foglio, ch'io con man tremante
a lui vergava. Al suo Rodrigo invece
diretto il crede: io secondai l'errore;
ma il labbro il disse,
e lo smentiva il core.
Fin da quel di dell'idol mio le usate
note più non rividi . . . un dubbio atroce
m'agita, mi confonde . . .
Chi sa? conobbe ei forse
pegno sì dolce in mano altrui? me infida
crede dunque? . . .

EMILIA
Che dici?
Timido è Amore, e spesso si figura
un mal che non esiste, o che non dura.

DESDEMONA
Vorrei, che il tuo pensiero
a me dicesse il ver.

EMILIA
Sempre è con te sincero:
No, che non dei temer.

DESDEMONA
Ma l'amistà sovente
ciò, che desia, si finge.

EMILIA
Ma un'anima languente
sempre il dolor si pinge.

DESDEMONA
Ah! crederti vorrei,
ma a te s'oppone il cor.

EMILIA
Credere a me tu dei
e non fidarti al cor.
Ah, credi a me.

A DUE
Quanto son fieri i palpiti
che desta a noi l'amor!
Dura un momento il giubilo,
eterno è il suo dolor.

No. 5 FINALE I
DESDEMONA
Ma che miro? ecco che incerto i passi
muove il perfido Iago;
fuggiam, si eviti; ei rintracciar potria
sul mio volto l'amor, la pena mia.
[ Partono. - Entra Iago. ]

Iago
Fuggi . . . sprezzami pur: più non mi curo
della tua destra . . . un tempo a' voti miei
utile io la credei . . . Tu mi sprezzasti
per un vile Africano, e ciò ti basti.
Ti pentirai, lo giuro:
Tutti servir dovranno a' miei disegni
gl'involati d'amor furtivi pegni.
Ma che veggo! Rodrigo!

RODRIGO [ Entrando ]
Ah, del mio bene
il genitor dov'è?

Iago
Miralo, ei viene.

[ Entra Elmiro. ]

ELMIRO
Giunto è, Rodrigo, il fortunato istante,
in cui dovrai di sposo
dar la destra a mia figlia.
L'amistà mel consiglia,
il mio dover, la tua virtude,
e quel odio ch'io serbo
per l'African superbo.
Insiem congiunti
per sangue, e per amor, facil ne fia
opporci al suo poter. Ma tu procura
al padre tuo, che invitto e amato siede
in su l'Adriaco suolo,
svelar le trame, e il suo nascosto orgoglio.

RODRIGO
Ah! sì, tutto farò.

ELMIRO
Iago, t'affretta
a compir l'Imeneo. A parte sei
delle mie brame, e dei disegni miei.
[ Iago pate. ]

RODRIGO
Ah di qual gioia sento acceso il mio petto!
Ma saro felice?

ELMIRO
Io tel prometto.

[ Rodrigo parte. ]


Vendicarmi dovrò; né più si vegga,
che un barbaro stranier con modi indegni
ad ubbidrlo, ed a servir ne insegni.
Ma la figlia a me vien . . .

[ Entra Desdemona. ]

DESDEMONA
Padre, permetti,
che rispettosa io baci . . .

ELMIRO
Ah! figlia, vieni,
vieni al mio seno. In questo fausto giorno
dividere vo'teco il mio contento.

DESDEMONA
(Che mai dirmi potrà? spero e pavento. )

ELMIRO
Dal sen saccia ogni duol. Un premio or t'offro
che caro a te sarà.

DESDEMONA
(Forse d'Otello l'han calmato i trionfi?)

ELMIRO
In vaga pompa
seguirmi or tu dei
tra novella allegria i passi miei.
[ Parte. - Entra Emilia. ]

DESDEMONA
Comprender io non so, confusa io sono.
Emilia, in quali tumulti sento il povero cor!

EMILIA
Che avvenne?

DESDEMONA
Il padre un premio m'offre e vuole
che il seno, il crine pomposamente adorno
festeggi insiem con lui sì fausto giorno.
Fra la speme e il timor che mi consigli?

EMILIA
Fingon gli amanti ognor nuovi perigli,
ma tu non paventar.
Chi sa d'un padre l'amore in lui parlò.
Forse d'Otello alla gloria offuscato
ha l'odio fine in amistà cangiato.
Vieni, non indugiar.

DESDEMONA
Ti seguo. Oh Dio,
palpita intanto il povero cor mio.

Scena: Sala magnificamente adorna.

[ Damigelle, amici e confidenti d'Elmiro. ]

CORO
Santo Imen! te guida Amore
due bell'alme ad annodar.
Dell'amore il dolce ardore
tu procura di eternar. -
Senza lui divien tiranno
il tuo nobile poter. -
Senza te cagion di affano
è d'amore ogni piacer. -
Qual momento di contento!
Tra l'amore ed il valore
resta attonito il pensier!

[ Entrano Elmiro, Desdemona, Emilia e Rodrigo con suo seguito. ]

DESDEMONA
Dove son? Che mai veggio?
Il cor non mi tradi!

ELMIRO
Tutta or riponi
la tua fiducia in me. Padre a te sono:
Ingannarti non posso. Eterna fede
giura a Rodrigo: egli la merta; ei solo
può renderti felice.

RODRIGO
Che mai dirà? . . .

EMILIA
Qual cenno!

DESDEMONA
(Oh me infelice!)

ELMIRO
Appaga i voti, miei, in te riposo.

DESDEMONA
(Oh natura! oh dover! oh legge! oh sposo!)

ELMIRO
Nel cor d'un padre amante
riposa, amata figlia,
è Amor, che mi consiglia
la tua felicità.

RODRIGO
Confusa è l'alma mia
fra tanti dubbi e tanti;
soli in sì fieri istanti
reggermi Amor potrà.

DESDEMONA
Padre . . . tu brami . . . oh Dio! tremo . . .
che la sua mano accetti?
(A 'miei tiranni affetti
chi mai resisterà?)

ELMIRO
S'arresta! . . . ahimè! . . . sospira!
Che mai temer degg'io?

RODRIGO
Tanto soffrir, ben mio,
tanto il mio cuor dovrà?

DESDEMONA
Deh taci!

ELMIRO
Che veggo?

RODRIGO
Mi sprezza!

ELMIRO
Resiste.

RODRIGO E DESDEMONA
Oh ciel! da te chieggo
soccorso, pietà.

ELMIRO
Deh giura.

DESDEMONA
Che chiedi?

RODRIGO
Ah vieni . . .

DESDEMONA
Che pena!

ELMIRO
Se al padre non cedi,
punirti saprà.

RODRIGO
Ti parli d'amore:
Non essermi infida.
Quest'alma a te fida
più pace non ha.

ELMIRO
D'un padre l'amore
ti serva di guida:
Al padre t'affida
che pace non ha.

DESDEMONA
Di sorte il rigore
a pianger mi guida.
Quest'alma a lui fida
più pace non ha.

RODRIGO
Ti parli d'amore, ecc.

[ Entra Otello nel fondo della scena, seguito da alcuni suoi compagni. ]

OTELLO
L'infida, ahimè che miro?
Al mio rivale accanto! . . .

SEGUITO DI OTELLO
Taci!

RODRIGO
Ti muova il pianto mio,
ti muova il mio dolor.

ELMIRO [ a Desdemona ]
Risolvi . . .

OTELLO
Io non resisto!

SEGUITO DI OTELLO
Frenati!

ELMIRO
Ingrata figlia!

RODRIGO, DESDEMONA
Oh, Dio! chi mi consiglia?
Chi mi dà forza al cor?

TUTTI
Al rio destin rubello
chi mai sottrarla può?

ELMIRO
Deh giura . . .

OTELLO [ avanzandosi ]
Ah ferma . . .

TUTTI
Otello! . . .
Il core in sen gelò!

ELMIRO
Che brami?

OTELLO
Il suo core . . .
Amore mel diede,
e Amore lo chiede,
Elmiro, da te.

ELMIRO
Che ardire!

DESDEMONA
Che affanno!

RODRIGO
Qual'alma superba!

OTELLO [ a Desdemona ]
Rammenta . . . mi serba
intatta la fè.

RODRIGO
E qual dritto mai,
perfido! su quel core
vantar con me potrai,
per renderlo infedel?

OTELLO
Virtù, costanza, e amore,
il data giuramento . . .

ELMIRO
Misero me! che sento?
Giurasti?

DESDEMONA
È ver: giurai . . .

ELMIRO E RODRIGO
Per me non hai più fulmini,
inesorabil Ciel!

ELMIRO
Vieni.

OTELLO
T'arresta!

RODRIGO
Invano
l'avrai tu, mio nemico . . .

ELMIRO
Figlia! . . . ti maledico . . .

TUTTI
Ah! . . . che giorno d'orror!
Incerta l'anima
vacilla e geme,
la dolce speme
fuggi dal cor.

RODRIGO
Parti, crudel.

OTELLO
Ti sprezzo.

[ Elmiro prende Desdemona, e protetto da suoi, la conduce via. Ella rimirando con dolcezza Otello, s'allontana da lui. ]

DESDEMONA
Padre! . . .

ELMIRO
Non v' è perdono.

RODRIGO
Or or vedrai chi sono.
Vedrai.

OTELLO
Paventa il mio furor!
Paventa.

TUTTI
Smanio, deliro e tremo.
No, non fu mai più fiero
d'un rio destin severo
il barbaro tenor!

Fine dell un atto.

Entered by: Stephen L. Parker 20 May 1996.

Music can be so enticing that it lends power to shallow poetry.....


I found a love for me
Darling just dive right in
And follow my lead
Well I found a girl beautiful and sweet
I never knew you were the someone waiting for me
'Cause we were just kids when we fell in love
Not knowing what it was
I will not give you up this time
But darling, just kiss me slow, your heart is all I own
And in your eyes you're holding mine
Baby, I'm dancing in the dark with you between my arms
Barefoot on the grass, listening to our favorite song
When you said you looked a mess, I whispered underneath my breath
But you heard it, darling, you look perfect tonight
Well I found a woman, stronger than anyone I know
She shares my dreams, I hope that someday I'll share her home
I found a love, to carry more than just my secrets
To carry love, to carry children of our own
We are still kids, but we're so in love
Fighting against all odds
I know we'll be alright this time
Darling, just hold my hand
Be my girl, I'll be your man
I see my future in your eyes
Baby, I'm dancing in the dark, with you between my arms
Barefoot on the grass, listening to our favorite song
When I saw you in that dress, looking so beautiful
I don't deserve this, darling, you look perfect tonight
Baby, I'm dancing in the dark, with you between my arms
Barefoot on the grass, listening to our favorite song
I have faith in what I see
Now I know I have met an angel in person
And she looks perfect
I don't deserve this
You look perfect tonight

La Traviata

Everything in the universe has billions of dependencies on past events.
When I listen to a piece of music, I very often try to tease out some of them, and occasionally research a few that spark my interest. 
"My interest" of course, is dependent on my inherited brain structure and the events that I have experienced. 
Nothing larger than atoms exhibits truly random behavior.... But conduco traviati (I lead you astray)...
All stories begin about 14 billion years ago in a bright stupendous explosion and will in the far distant future as cold dark silence.
Luckily, animals like our selves have been shaped with an irrational optimism and an exaggerated sense of our own importance.
Thus we rarely consider the larger context within which our lives and our works lie.
We nearly always hop over the 10 billion years of clumping of heavier elements. We skip over the formation of earth about 4.5 billion years ago, and jump to the very recent start of life on earth 3.5 billion years ago.
But we are still a long way from La Traviata. It wasn't until about 500 000 years ago that Homo began throwing it’s weight around.  Voicing and drumming were probably part of humanoid experience about 300 000 years ago - probably serving purposes similar to this opera - individual sexual display and group bonding, among many other uses.
When our sapiens ancestors developed about 200 000 years ago, an immense cultural explosion occurred - probably powered by the arrival of self-awareness. This explosion is certain to have impacted on music. Unfortunately, the music leaves no trace, but at least a few examples of sapiens music technology remain.  The oldest human musical instrument ever found is a 35 000 year old flute and was found in Germany - not far from the land of La Traviata. The role of music, at least in Europe, almost certainly paralleled the development of language, and became a vehicle for culture. Moral lessons and shared explanations for the world such as stories, were embedded in music to make them more powerful and more effectively transmissible.

Analysis of human history and the development of complex musical forms between 35 000 years ago and 150 years ago, will have to be explored another time.  This is not an attempt to trace all the antecedents of this piece of music, but to try to kindle wonder at the interconnectedness of the universe that surrounds this amazing music. 

But why La Traviata ?


One way to way to answer this is experiential rather than factual....  Listen...

Opera La Traviata Act 1 Sc02a Libiamo Ne' Lieti Calici (3:02)  (Youtube)

ALFREDO
Libiamo, ne' lieti calici  (Drink from the joyful glass,)
che la bellezza infiora,  (resplendent with beauty,)
e la fuggevol ora  (drink to the spirit of pleasure)
s'inebrii a voluttà.  (which enchants the fleeting moment.)
Libiam ne' dolci fremiti  (Drink to the thrilling sweetness)
che suscita l'amore,  (brought to us by love,)
poiché quell'occhio al core  (for these fair eyes, irresistibly,)
(indicando Violetta)  (indicating Violetta)
onnipotente va.  (pierce us to the heart.)
Libiamo amore, amor fra i calici  (Drink - for wine)
più caldi baci avrà.  (will warm the kisses of love.)

TUTTI  (ALL)
Ah! Libiam, amor fra i calici  (Drink - for wine)
più caldi baci avrà.  (will warm the kisses of love.)

VIOLETTA   (s'alza)  (VIOLETTA   (rising)
Tra voi saprò dividere  (I shall divide my gaiety)
il tempo mio giocondo;  (among you all;)
tutto è follia nel mondo  (Everything in life is folly,)
ciò che non è piacer.  (except for pleasure.)
Godiam, fugace e rapido  (Let us be joyful, for love)
è il gaudio dell'amore,  (is a fleeting and short-lived joy.)
è un fior che nasce e muore,  (A flower which blossoms and fades,)
né più si può goder.  (whose beauty is soon lost forever.)
Godiam, c'invita un fervido  (Be joyful - a caressing voice)
accento lusinghier.  (invites us warmly to joy.)

TUTTI  (ALL)
Ah! godiamo, la tazza e il cantico  (Ah! Be carefree - for wine and song)
la notte abbella e il riso;  (with laughter, embellish the night.)
in questo paradiso  (The new day breaking will find us still)
ne scopra il nuovo dì.  (in this happy paradise.)
VIOLETTA   (ad Alfredo)  (VIOLETTA   (to Alfredo)
La vita è nel tripudio.  (Life is only pleasure.)

ALFREDO (to Violetta)
Quando non s'ami ancora.  (For those who don't know love.)

VIOLETTA: Nol dite a chi l'ignora.  (Speak not of love to one who knows not what it is.)
ALFREDO: È il mio destin così.  (Such is my destiny.)

TUTTI  (ALL)
Godiamo, la tazza e il cantico  (Be carefree - for wine and song)
la notte abbella e il riso;  (with laughter, embellish the night.)
in questo paradiso  (The next day breaking will find us still)
ne scopra il nuovo dì.  (in this happy paradise.)

The powerful emotional response that music evokes in some people is almost certainly built into our genes. The survival value of a response to emotional sounds and rhythms made by group members is harnessed and refined in the techniques of composition and of instrument design - especially the amazing plasticity of the human voice.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_voice

Almost at every line of the opera, more dependencies appear that could be researched:  
Males and females of mating age engage in group bonding activities like singing, dancing and drinking alcohol.
The origins of dance https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dance#origins is probably many thousands of years old and parallels singing and drumming. Here it is used as a stylized technique for bodily contact to aid  couples in seeking a mate.
Alcohol was almost certainly discovered through accidental fermentation probably more than 10 000 years ago. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_alcoholic_beverages
Distillation was widespread in Europe from about 800 years ago. 
In this context, alcohol lowers socially learned inhibitions about movement, speech and bodily contact to increase the chance of mating. 
Singing, dancing and drinking among humans reaching mating age will probably always be a contentious issue in human societies - as here - because it leads Alfredo to fall in love with Violetta. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romance_(love)
Romantic love has a hotly debated history with many arguing that it is quite a recent human mental state produced by intense social conditioning. Many humans bizarrely believe that love, rather than procreation, is the central purpose of life.

Certainly, Alfredo does....
After the party breaks up, Alfredo professes love, but Violetta holds him at arms length, offering only friendship.

Opera La Traviata Act 1 Sc03a Un di', felice, eterea (3:31) (Youtube)

 ALFREDO
Un dì felice, eterea,  (One day you passed before me,)
mi balenaste innante,  (happy and light as air,)
e da quel dì tremante  (and ever since that day,)
vissi d'ignoto amor,  (even without knowing it, I loved you -)
di quell'amor ch'è palpito  (with that love which is the very breath)
dell'universo intero,  (of the universe itself -)
misterioso, altero,  (mysterious and noble,)
croce e delizia al cor.  (both cross and ecstasy of the heart.)

VIOLETTA
Ah, se ciò è ver, fuggitemi.  (Ah, if this is true, then leave me -)
Solo amistade io v'offro:  (I offer you only friendship:)
amar non so, né soffro  (I cannot love, nor can I accept)
un così eroico amore.  (so heroic a love from you.)
Io sono franca, ingenua;  (I am simple and frank.)
altra cercar dovete;  (You must find another.)
non arduo troverete  (It won't be hard, then,)
dimenticarmi allor.  (for you to forget me.)

ALFREDO:   Ah, amore misterioso, altero, croce e delizia al cor.  (Love mysterious and noble, both cross and ecstasy of the heart.)
VIOLETTA: Non arduo troverete dimenticarmi allor.  (It won't be hard, then, for you to forget me.)

The reasons for Violetta's reticent are central to the plot of this Opera.  

Aha! What is opera ? Another opportunity to conduco traviata.  
Opera https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origins_of_opera#/search was born in Italy about 400 years ago as a musical form paying homage to the use of the Greek chorus https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_chorus more than 1500 years ago.
Opera had other more contemporary midwives in both religious and secular music because every important cultural entity eventually utilized the advantage that music offered to store and transmit meaning.
About 400 years ago, opera became a political tool used in spectacular displays to reinforce the legitimacy of ruling elites.

If we leap forward to La Traviata, political messages were still being embedded within operas, but not always in favor of the ruling elites - or even of contemporary morality.

We need to consider a crucial dependency of this opera. 

In 1839, a 15 year old girl, Marie Duplessis, came to Paris from rural poverty and got a job as a dressmaker. She could not help but notice the lustful and adoring looks from the prominent men visiting the shop. Deciding that this was her best life chance, she studied hard, learning to read and write and to discuss topics of the day, and within a year was an immensely popular courtesan - hosting a salon where politicians, writers, and artists gathered for stimulating conversation.  
She became the mistress of a series of prominent men including Franz Liszt.  Another of these lovers was Alexandre Dumas Junior (son of the author of "The Three Musketeers" who wrote a play about Marie in which she was called The Lady of the Camellias - alluding to her use of red and white camellias to indicate her sexual availability.

Ahh.. another thread to be followed, a historical dependency to be explored. Reproduction in human society is central to our existence as a species as well as to ensuring that people with certain gene sets remain dominant. The lives of women in human society has almost always been less free than the males that they mate with. Indeed, as the producers of children, they were (and still are in some places) treated more as property than person. 
Courtesans https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courtesan provided sexual enjoyment for men whose duty was to procreate with wives for social advantage. Verdi's selection of a mate defies this social expectation. He mates for love.

In 1852, Verdi, an immensely successful composer, is a looking for inspiration for his 19th opera.  He travelled to Paris with his mistress, Giuseppina Strepponi, and they saw this play. For Verdi, the play probably resonated with him because Giuseppina was not married and yet had multiple children.  Before the trip to Paris, Verdi had seen Giuseppina being publicly shunned in his home town - even by his parents.   Verdi, immensely famous and a rich benefactor to his town, and his father, felt Giuseppina's pain - and expressed it through his opera.
For him, the politics is personal: the social condemnation of la traviata - "fallen" women.

Meanwhile back in the opera Violetta allows herself to love Alfredo.
Opera La Traviata Act 3 Sc6a Parigi O Cara Noi Lasceremo: (Youtube) (4:41)

ALFREDO:  Parigi, o cara, noi lasceremo, (From Paris dear, we shall go away,)
la vita uniti trascorreremo; (to live our lives together.)
de' corsi affanni compenso avrai, (We shall make up for all our heartache,)
la tua salute rifiorirà. (your health will come back again.)
Sospiro e luce tu mi sarai, (You will be the light of my life,)
tutto il futuro ne arriderà. (the future will smile upon us.) 
VIOLETTA repeats as if in a dream.  They both repeat.

Love, as the basis for mating, is also frowned upon in the opera through the role of Germont, Alfredo's father.

Germont seed disaster for his family if Alfredo and Violetta persist in their love affair.  The scandal is predicted to derail the marriage of Alfredo's sister. Germany asks Violetta to sacrifice her chance at illicit happiness to safeguard the righteous marriage of Alfredo's sister.

Opera La Traviata Act 2 Sc05a Pura Siccome Un Angelo (1:48) (Youtube)


GERMONT:  Sì! (Yes.)
Pura siccome un angelo (God blessed me with a daughter,)
Iddio mi diè una figlia; (like an angel in her purity;)
se Alfredo nega riedere (if Alfredo refuses to return)
in seno alla famiglia, (to the bosom of his family,)
l'amato e amante giovine (the young man in love and beloved in turn,)
cui sposa andar dovea, (who was soon to marry my daughter,)
or si ricusa al vincolo (would reject this bond)
che lieti ne rendeva. (on which our happiness depends.)
Deh, non mutate in triboli (Ah, do not be the cause of changing into thorns.)
le rose dell'amor. (love's roses.)
A' prieghi miei resistere no, no ( I pray that you resist no, no)
non voglia il vostro cor. (do not let your heart)

VIOLETTA
Ah, comprendo - dovrò per alcun tempo (Ah, I understand - I must leave Alfredo)
da Alfredo allontanarmi - doloroso (for a time. It will be painful)
fora per me - pur - (for me - yet -)

GERMONT:  Non è ciò che chiedo. (That is not what I ask.)
VIOLETTA:  Cielo, che più cercate? (Heaven, what more can you ask!)
Offersi assai! (I offered much!)
GERMONT:  Pur non basta. (But not enough.)
VIOLETTA: Volete che per sempre a lui rinunzi? (You want me to give him up forever?)
GERMONT:  È d'uopo! (You must!)
VIOLETTA: Ah no! - giammai! No, no! (No - never! No, no!)

The role of Germont is crucial to the story and given prominence and power through the music.
Germont implies that their illicit relationship is based on lust and will fade over time leaving only recrimination and bitterness.

Opera La Traviata Act 2 Sc05c Un Dì, Quando Le Veneri (2:39) (Youtube)
GERMONT
Un dì, quando le veneri (Once time has stalled)
il tempo avrà fugate, (the delights of love,)
fia presto il tedio a sorgere - (tedium will follow quickly.)
che sarà allor? Pensate - (Then what? Think -)
per voi non avran balsamo (Even the deepest feelings)
i più soavi affetti, (can bring you no balm,)
poiché dal ciel non furono (since this bond was never)
tai nodi benedetti. (blessed by heaven.)

VIOLETTA:  È vero! È vero! (It's true! It's true!
GERMONT:  Ah, dunque sperdasi tal sogno seduttore. (Ah, then lay aside this beguiling dream.)
VIOLETTA: È vero! È vero! (It's true! It's true!)

GERMONT
Siate di mia famiglia (Be rather the consoling angel)
l'angel consolatore (of my family.)
Violetta, deh, pensateci, (Violetta. Think -)
ne siete in tempo ancor. (You still have time.)
È Dio che ispira, o giovine, (Young lady, it is God who inspires)
tai detti a un genitor. (these words on a father's lips.)

VIOLETTA
Così alla misera ch'è un dì caduta, (All hope of rising again is forever gone.)
di più risorgere speranza è muta! (For the wretched woman who erred one day!)
Se pur benefico le indulga Iddio, (Even if God grants her mercy charitably)
l'uomo implacabil per lei sarà. (Man will always be implacable.)


GERMONT: Siate di mia famiglia l'angiol consolator. (Be rather the consoling angel of my family.)

Perhaps hoping that his own father would treat his own lover with more respect, Verdi gives Germont some wonderful arias, and has him develop a deep admiration for the courage and self sacrifice that Violetta shows.
  
Opera La Traviata Act 2 Sc05d Dite Alla Giovane (4.24) (Youtube)

VIOLETTA 
Ah! dite alla giovine sì bella e pura (Oh, tell your daughter, so lovely and pure,)
ch'avvi una vittima della sventura, (that a poor and wretched woman,)
cui resta un unico raggio di bene - (who has but one precious thing in life -)
che a lei il sacrifica e che morrà! (will sacrifice it for her - and then will die!)

GERMONT
Piangi, piangi, o misera, supremo, il veggo, (Weep, weep, poor girl. I see now)
è il sacrifizio che ora ti chieggo. (that the sacrifice I asked could not be greater.)
Sento nell'anima già le tue pene; (Within my heart I feel what you must suffer;)
coraggio e il nobile tuo cor vincerà! (be brave, your noble heart will conquer all.)

VIOLETTA
Dite alla giovine sì bella e pura (Tell your daughter, so lovely and pure,)
ch'avvi una vittima della sventura, (that a poor and wretched woman,)
cui resta un unico raggio di bene (who has but one precious thing in life -)
che a lei il sacrifica e che morrà! (will sacrifice it for her - and then will die!)

GERMONT
Ah supremo, il veggo, (I see now that the sacrifice)
è il sacrificio ch'ora ti chieggo. (I asked could not be greater,)
Sento nell'anima già le tue pene; (within my heart I feel what you must suffer,)
coraggio e il nobile cor vincerà! (be brave, your noble heart will conquer all.)
Piangi, o misera! (Weep, poor girl.)

Alfredo considers his father’s actions shameful, feels responsible for Violetta’s pain and is determined to stand by her regardless of the shame.
Opera La Traviata Act 2 Sc03 Oh Mio Rimorso! 3:10 (Youtube)

Oh mio rimorso! Oh infamia! (Oh, my remorse! Oh, disgrace!)
Io vissi in tale errore! (And I lived so mistakenly!)
Ma il turpe sogno a frangere (But the truth, like a flash)
Il ver mi balenò! (Has broken my base sleep)
Per poco in seno acquetati, (For a little while be calm in my breast,)
O grido o grido dell'onore; (Oh, cry of honour;)
M'avrai securo vindice; (In me you shall have a sure avenger;)
Quest'onta laverò. (I shall wash away this shame)
Oh mio rossor! Oh infamia! (Oh, my remorse! Oh, disgrace!)
Ah, sì, quest'onta laverò. (Ah, yes, I shall wash away this shame)
Sì laverò.  (yes, wash away)
Oh mio rossor! Oh infamia! (Oh my blushing ! Oh shame !)
Ah, sì, quest'onta... (Ah , yes , this shame ...)
Sì, quest'onta laverò. (Yes, I shall wash away this shame)
Quest'onta, quest'onta laverò. (This shame, I shall wash away this shame)

Oh mio rimorso! Oh infamia! (Oh, my remorse! Oh, disgrace!)
Io vissi in tale errore! (And I lived so mistakenly!)
Ma il turpe sogno a frangere (But the truth, like a flash)
Il ver mi balenò!  (Has broken my base sleep)
Per poco in seno acquetati, (For a little while be calm in my breast,)
O grido o grido dell'onore; (Oh, cry of honour;)
M'avrai securo vindice; (In me you shall have a sure avenger;)
Quest'onta laverò. (I shall wash away this shame)

Oh mio rossor! Oh infamia! (Oh, my remorse! Oh, disgrace!)
Ah, sì, quest'onta laverò. (Ah, Yes, I shall wash away this shame)
Sì laverò. (Yes wash away)
Oh mio rossor! Oh infamia! (Oh, my remorse! Oh, disgrace!)
Ah, sì, quest'onta... (Ah, Yes, this shame)
Sì, quest'onta laverò.  (Yes, I shall wash away this shame)
Quest'onta, quest'onta laverò. (This shame, I shall wash away this shame)

Oh onta, onta laverò. (Oh shame , wash away shame.)
Sì laverò. (Yes , wash away.)
Oh onta, onta laverò. (Oh shame , wash away shame.)
Sì laverò. (Yes , wash away.)
Laverò, laverò. (Wash away, wash away.)

But there is a far more merciless and mortal threat above Violetta's head.

Perhaps 5 000 years ago, a bacterium in Africa found a way to colonise the human body in a variety of organs, but most commonly the lungs. By 1839, it had spread around the world and in the very year that the real Marie Duplessis moved to Paris, was named as tuberculosis.
At that time, it infected the overwhelming majority of the population, and was responsible for 25% of all deaths. These people, like Marie Duplessis (and Violetta), developed the "white plague".  As their lungs died, the breath and life was gradually sucked out of them. The skin colour and passive thoughtfulness induced by the disease inferred spiritual purity, leading many young, upper-class women to purposefully pale their skin to achieve the consumptive appearance.

Violetta knows that her end is nigh.

Opera La Traviata Act 3 Sc4b Addio Del Passato (3:12) (Youtube)

Addio, del passato bei sogni ridenti, (Adieu, sweet, happy dreams of the past,) 
le rose del volto già sono pallenti; (the roses of my cheeks are already fading.) 
l'amore d'Alfredo perfino mi manca, (I miss so much Alfredo's love,) 
conforto, sostegno dell'anima stanca - (which once solaced my weary soul -) 
conforto, sostegno - (Solaced and comforted -) 
Ah, della traviata sorridi al desio; (Ah, smile upon the woman who has strayed;) 
a lei, deh, perdona; tu accoglila, o Dio! (forgive her, oh God, grant she may come to thee!) 
Ah! - Tutto, tutto finì, or tutto, tutto finì. (Now all is finished, all is over.)

The opera ends dramatically with Violetta's death - after she has won the admiration of all - including Germont. 

Marie Duplessis, died in 1847 at the age of 23.   By 1853, her short life had inspired a book, a vastly popular play and what was to be the most popular opera of all time.

So many Opera's by Verdi and so many others have tragedy by the bucket load, so why Traviata ?
So many other operas are woven within contorted, and often unbelievable plots. La Traviata's popularity lies in the simplicity and intimacy of the story, as well as the simplicity and lyric beauty of the music.

The superb music of La Traviata delights more people than any other opera - ever.  The orchestration is simple - even bare - but the lyricism and emotional impact is second to none.
Comparing Verdi's La Traviata  with his major operatic contemporary, Wagner  - both born in 1813. Wagner's operas are interminable, rarely hummable and only end after the fat lady sings.  Wagner lovers praise the intellectual quality and scope of his compositions.  Mark Twain famously defended Wagner's music as "better than it sounds".  But let the people speak !
La Traviata is the most frequently performed opera of all time with 749 productions worldwide over the last 5 years  (In the worlds,  25 most frequently performed operas, Verdi has 7 and Wagner 1. Even Mozart has only 4).

Verdi is still one of the most famous people in the history of Lombardy. He living most of his life in his home town south east of Milan.  He also loved lake Como and visited often along with so many others from Lombardy - especially the rich and famous.  Born shortly after Napoleon was crowned in the Milan Duomo, he lived under the rule of the Sardinians, and the Austrians before the creation of a united Italy.  He expressed his support for the risorgimento, the unification of Italy, through his music (which was routinely censored).
It was no accident that, beginning in Naples in 1859 and spreading throughout Italy, the slogan "Viva VERDI" was used as a catch cry by all those supporting a united Italy. It was a happy coincidence that it the acronym for Viva Vittorio Emanuele Re D'Italia (Viva Victor Emmanuel King of Italy), referring to Victor Emmanuel II also spelt the name of a famous composer who supported the cause.

Let me end with my favourite aria.  Germont evoking, in Alfredo, the beauty and the bond of his home after finding him living with Violetta.   I think that Verdi was thinking of Lombardi - perhaps Lake Como, when he wrote it.

Opera La Traviata Act 2 Sc08b Di Provenza Il Mar Il Suol (3:12) (Youtube)

GERMONT 
Di Provenza il mar, il suol (In Provence, The sea, the hills)
chi dal cor ti cancellò? (who effaced them from your heart?)
chi dal cor ti cancellò? (who effaced them from your heart?)
Di Provenza il mar, il suol (In Provence, The sea, the hills)

Al natio fulgente sol (What destiny took you away)
qual destino ti furò? (from the sunny land of your birth?)
qual destino ti furò? (from the sunny land of your birth?)
Al natio fulgente sol (What destiny took you away)

Oh, rammenta pur nel duol (Oh, remember in your sorrow)
ch'ivi gioia a te brillò; (what joy warmed you there;)
e che pace colà sol (and that only there)
su te splendere ancor può. (can your soul find peace again.)
e che pace colà sol (and that only there)
su te splendere ancor può. (can your soul find peace again.)

Dio mi guidò! (God brought me here!)
Dio mi guidò! (God brought me here!)
Dio mi guidò! (God brought me here!)

Ah! il tuo vecchio genitor (Ah! You cannot know)
tu non sai quanto soffrì. (how your old father has suffered.)
tu non sai quanto soffrì. (how your old father has suffered.)
Ah! il tuo vecchio genitor (Ah! You cannot know)

Te lontano, di squallor (With you away, with desolation)
il suo tetto si coprì, (the house is clouded)
il suo tetto si coprì, (the house is clouded)
di squallor, di squallor (with desolation, with desolation)
ma se alfin ti trovo ancor, (But at last I have found you,)
se in me speme non fallì, (if my hope has not been in vain.)
se la voce dell'onor (If the voice of honour)
in te appien non ammutì, (in you is not wholly stilled.)
ma se alfin ti trovo ancor, (But at last I have found you,)
se in me speme non fallì, (if my hope has not been in vain.)

Dio m'esaudì! (God has answered my prayer!)
Dio m'esaudì! (God has answered my prayer!)
Dio m'esaudì! (God has answered my prayer!)
Dio m'esaudì! (God has answered my prayer!)
ma se alfin ti trovo ancor, (But at last I have found you,)
ti trovo ancor (I have found you)
Dio m'esaudì! (God has answered my prayer!)

Dio m'esaudì! (God has answered my prayer!)

This great opera sits like any other human work in a mesh of a billion dependencies that preceded and indeed caused its creation.
To allow the mind to wander down at least some of these pathways, immensely increases the pleasure and power of the music.

Further References and interesting facts: