I promised to get to arias sooner or later, so today, in honor of floods and hurricanes and tornadoes and tsunamis and blizzards and avalanches, here is one rendition of “Ebben? Ne andro lontano” from Alfredo Catalani’s opera La Wally. This one is sung by Rene Fleming with Christian Benda conducting the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. In the story, La Wally has made a real mess of her love life and heads out into the snowy Alps. This song comes from that moment. A little while later, it seems that she will reconcile with her would-be lover, who has followed her, but his voice calling to her sets off an avalanche that buries him. She flings herself off the mountain into the avalanche to join him in death.
Whether you know the story or can understand the words doesn’t really matter, of course, because the sorrow is very clear in the music itself–the grieving pace, the climbing and falling of the notes, the tremulous trill at the top. “Ebben? Ne andro lontano” may seem familiar even if you aren’t an opera fan. It has been used over the years in a number of films, including Diva (1981) and A Single Man (2009). There are other good versions on the web, including the one by Maria Chiara that I first heard several years ago and that made me fall in love with the song and another one by Rene Fleming that’s a little fuller than this one (but includes an ad). I really enjoyed listening to several different interpretations from many stunning singers. At a time when the forces of nature seem overwhelming, it’s good to marvel that such voices can come out of human beings.