The perfect Tornami a vagheggiar
Tornami a vagheggiar is one of my favourite arias ever. It’s so light and silly and joyous – very much like infatuation itself1, completely unselfconscious. It’s sung by Morgana, Alcina’s sister, after Morgana gets unexpectedly infatuated with “Ricciardo”, the dashing and mysterious knight who turns out to be Bradamante, Ruggiero’s fiancee and, indeed, an experienced damsel in distress rescuer on her own. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel something delicately mocking in the music. Sometimes I think Morgana falls in love so quickly because Alcina normally gets first dibs on any man that lands on the island and this is the first time she runs into a visitor before he registers on her sister’s radar.
I’ve heard a good chunk of interpretations but there has always been something missing. Either the tempo is too slow (can’t have that, the ethos is too spontaneous) or the singer’s voice is a tad too heavy or the coloratura too laboured or the ornamentation too elaborate. Now I’m not normally a Battle fan (soubrettes can get on my nerves a bit) but did she nail this one or what? I knew we were on the right track as soon as I heard the proper tempo. And then the whole thing just breezed by as it should, light and happy and idiomatic.
- There is another aria that expresses infatuation/love equally as well: I Puritani’s Vien diletto, e in ciel la luna, and there will be an entry on that as well. ↩