Breeches Contest Round II — Non so più…

Instead of picking some classic varieties of the aria, like the immortal Supervia’s or von Stade’s, I decided to go for two interpretations perhaps not known so well.

The aria is “Non so più, cosa son, cosa faccio” from Le Nozze di Figaro (Mozart).

A very vague summary could be given as: Cherubin, about 15 years of age in the opera — the countess’ and at times maybe Susanna’s love-toy, with a crush on Barbarina, another servant more his age — complains about the hardships a teenage boy has to endure. Basically, he cannot even look at a woman without being put into physical discomfort. Well, it is not discomfort exactly… Oh, h*ck…

It is my favoured aria of Cherubino, the other being the “Voi, che sapete”. Whenever I hear the wonderfully agitated and breathless “Non so piu”, I picture Mozart writing the aria, at his writing desk, toying with his quill in hand, smirking, and thinking *”Yeah, I remember being 15. I remember it very well. And it sucked at times”.

Liliana Nikiteanu

Opernhaus Zürich

Christine Schäfer

Opus Arte’s 2006 production of “Le Nozze di Figaro”

My resumée:

For me, Nikiteanu wins the round — vocally, and for sheer sexiness;  But Schäfer scores a point for outrageous nerdiness ❤

Mozart, Cherubino, Le Nozze di Figaro

Non so più cosa son, cosa faccio,
or di foco, ora sono di ghiaccio,
ogni donna cangiar di colore,
ogni donna mi fa palpitar.
Solo ai nomi d’amor, di diletto,
mi si turba, mi s’altera il petto
e a parlare mi sforza d’amore
un desio ch’io non posso spiegar.

Parlo d’amor vegliando,
parlo d’amor sognando,
all’acque, all’ombre, ai monti,
ai fiori, all’erbe, ai fonti,
all’eco, all’aria, ai venti,
che il suon de’ vani accenti
portano via con sé.
E se non ho chi mi oda,
parlo d’amor con me.

I don’t know anymore, who I am, or what I am doing,
One moment feeling like fire, the next like ice,
Every woman makes me blush,
Every women makes my heart beat faster.
When I only hear that “love” or “delight” is mentioned,
It disturbs me, and changes how I feel in my heart,
And forces me to speak of love,
A desire that I cannot explain.

I speak of love when I’m awake,
I speak of love when I’m dreaming,
To the waters, to the shadows, to the mountains,
To the flowers, to the grass, to the springs,
To the echo, to the air, to the winds
Carrying the sounds of the futile words
Away with them.
And if no one is listening,
I speak of love to myself.

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5 thoughts on “Breeches Contest Round II — Non so più…

  1. That’s hilarious, we had an idea for a contest at about the same time. The ‘Opus arte’ thing must be a Glyndebourne production, non?

    Nikiteanu is excellent, tho’ a little breathy. But the rest is ok so you don’t notice that much. Christine Schaefer – don’t know the context but there’s no acting at all. It’s like a recital performance. Maybe Cherubino is recording a song, I can’t tell for sure. That isn’t Diana Demrau in the back as the maid, right?

  2. Appartently it was this production, according to user “Mezzosoprano” at youtube, which is the best source I can find atm:

    Paris Palais Garnier 2006.

    Production: Christoph Marthaler.

    Peter Mattei (Count),

    Christiane Oelze (Countess),

    Heidi Grant Murphy (Susanna),

    Christine Schäfer (Cherubino),

    Lorenzo Regazzo (Figaro).

    Conductor: Sylvain Cambreling.

    Actually, the awfully staged gesture of Susanna’s with the faked-looking “thumbs-up” gave me creeps. It evoked the unpelasant feeling I tend to have when witnessing parents who try to show their support for their children reaching puberty — Falling back into outdated slang out of their own youth, dressing up in an unbecoming way, or going dancing with their own kids — pretending to be the younger sibling. Makes me
    *facepalm, to hide the blushing.

  3. Also, what is with La Schaefer’s mouth? She shapes the mouth the same way for every vowel. No wonder she looks worried.

    I always think of Cecilia Bartoli as the ultimate Cherubino – manic, manic, manic – but my mind remains open.

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