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G 11.005 CoverClaudio Monteverdi (1567–1643)
Lamento d’Arianna

for (mezzo-)soprano and basso continuo
Edited by Martin Nitz
Realization of the thorough bass by Martin Nitz

Girolamo G 11.005, score and 2 parts, € 18,00
ISMN 979-0-50084-021-3

sample page

G 11.004 G 11.006






The first performance of Claudio Monteverdi’s opera Arianna took place in 1608. The plot of the story derives from the Greek myth of the hero Theseus who with the help of the Cretan princess Ariadne (Ital. Arianna) defeats the monster Minotaurus and wins her love. While returning to Athens nevertheless, Theseus disdainfully abandons his love on the island Naxos.

To the composer, Ariadne’s lament, the Lamento d’Arianna, represents the peak of the opera, “La più essential parte dell’ opera”, as Monteverdi expresses himself in a letter from March 20th, 1620.1)

Unfortunately only the lament is preserved from the music of the opera. At first it was distributed in handwritten copies and later on it was published by Monteverdi (together with two other works) in 1623. This print was used as the draft for the edition presented here.2)

There are only few ‘barlines’ in the score which serve as an orientation. The additions and changes of barlines made by the editor are adapted to the Italian rhythm of speech which enables a clearer survey of the work as a whole which is composed as a series of recitatives.3)

The realisation of the bass line has been kept very simple. It is intended as a harmonic support which can serve as a base for various possible continuo instruments (harpsichord, chest-organ, theorbo or lute). The bass figuration added by the editor in brackets is merely a suggestion.

It is not surprising that the harmonic ‘results’ of his five-part madrigal version that was published in 1614 – nine years before the Lamento was printed – are not included in the later print: the five-part version demanded a more marked harmonic and rhythmic profile than the original, in which the recitative performance of the solo voice could be supported merely by long sustained bass notes.

Martina Schänzle has translated the Italian text into German with the assistance of the editor. We thank Mrs. Dr. Maria Grazia Kölling, Hamburg, for extra help and advice.

Translation: J. Whybrow

Hamburg, March 1998, Martin Nitz

1) See Silke Leopold: Claudio Monteverdi und seine Zeit, Laaber 1993, p. 164

2) “Lamento / d’Ariana / del Signor / Claudio Monteverde / Maestro di Capella / Della Serenissima Republica / … / Stampa del Gardano / in Venetia MDCXXIII / Appresso Bartolomeo Magni.“ (Ariadne’s lament by Mr. Claudio Monteverdi, maestro di capella of the republic of Venice … printed by Gardano in Venice 1623, obtainable at Bartolomeo Magni.) According to Claudio Gallico (I due pianti d’Arianna di Claudio Monteverdi in: Chigiana XXIV, 1967, p. 30) the Lamento was accompanied by violins and violas at the first performance. Between several sections of the surviving libretto there appears a chorus to whose words the music has also been lost.

3) The original spelling of the Italian text has been modernized following the version of the Lamento d’ Arianna which is printed in vol. 11 of the complete edition. (Tutte le opere di Claudio Monteverdi, edited by G. Fr. Malipiero, Asolo 1926–1942; 2Vienna, 1966–1968, Universal Edition.)


Lasciatemi morire.
E chi volete voi
che mi conforte
in così dura sorte,
in così gran martire?
Lasciatemi morire.

O Teseo, o Teseo mio,
si che mio ti vo’ dir
che mio pur sei,
benchè t’involi, ahi crudo,
a gl’occhi miei.
Volgiti Teseo mio,
volgiti Teseo, o Dio,
volgiti indietro a rimirar colei
che lasciato ha per te la Patria e’l regno,
e in queste arene ancora,
cibo di fere dispietate e crude
lascierà l’ossa ignude.
O Teseo, o Teseo mio,
se tu sapessi, o Dio,
se tu sapessi, oimè,
come s’affanna
la povera Arianna;
Forse, forse pentito
rivolgeresti ancor la prora al lito.
Ma con l’aure serene
tu te ne vai felice, ed io qui piango.
A te prepara Atene
liete pompe superbe, ed io rimango,
cibo di fere in solitarie arene.
Te l’uno e l’altro tuo vecchio parente
stringeran lieti, ed io più non vedrovvi,
o Madre, o Padre mio.

Dove, dov’ è la fede
che tanto mi giuravi?
Così nell’ alta fede
tu mi ripon degl’ Avi?
Son queste le corone
onde m’adorn’ il crine?
Questi gli scettri sono,
queste le gemme e gl’ori?
Lasciarmi in abbandono
a fera che mi strazi e mi divori?
Ah Teseo, ah Teseo mio,
lascierai tu morire
invan piangendo, invan gridando aita
la misera Arianna
ch’a te fidossi e ti diè gloria e vita?

Ahi, che non pur rispondi,
ahi, che più d’aspe è sordo a miei lamenti!
O nembi, o turbi, o venti
sommergetelo voi dentr’ a quell’ onde!
Correte orche e balene,
e delle membra immonde
empiete le voragini profonde!
Che parlo, ahi, che vaneggio?
Misera, oimè, che chieggio?
O Teseo, o Teseo mio,
non son, non son quell’ io,
non son quell’ io che i feri detti sciolse;
parlò l’affanno mio,
parlò il dolore,
parlò la lingua si ma non già il core.

Misera, ancor dò loco
a la tradita speme,
e non si spegne
fra tanto scherno ancor d’amor il foco.
Spegni tu morte omai le fiamme indegne.
O Madre, o Padre,
o de l’antico Regno superbi alberghi,
ov’ ebbi d’or la cuna.
O servi, o fidi amici –
ahi fato indegno! –
mirate ove m’ha scort’ empia fortuna,
mirate di che duol m’ha fatto herede
l’amor mio, la mia fede
e l’altrui inganno.
Così va chi tropp’ ama
e troppo crede.

Let me die.
And who do you think
can comfort me
in thus harsh fate,
in thus great suffering?
Let me die.

Oh Theseus, oh my Theseus,
yes, I still call you mine
for mine you are,
although you flee, cruel one,
far from my eyes.
Turn back, my Theseus,
turn back, Theseus, o God,
turn back to see again the one,
who for you has left her fatherland and kingdom,
and who, staying on these shores,
a prey to cruel and pitiless beasts,
will leave her bones denuded.
Oh Theseus, oh my Theseus,
if you knew, oh God,
if you only knew
how much poor Arianna
is frightened,
perhaps, overcome with remorse,
you would return your prow shorewards again.
But with the serene winds
you sail on happily, while I remain here weeping.
Athens prepares to greet you
with joyful and superb feasts and I remain,
a prey to wild beasts on these solitary shores.
You will be happily embraced by
your old parents and I will not see you again,
oh mother, oh my father.

Where is the faith you
swore me so much?
Is this how you place me
on my antecestors throne?
Are these the crowns
with which you adorn my hair?
Are these the sceptres,
the diamonds and the gold?
To leave me abandoned
for the beast to tear up and devour?
Ah Theseus, ah my Theseus,
would you let me die,
weeping in vain, crying for aid
the wretched Arianna,
who trusted you and gave you glory and life?

Ah, that you do not even reply!
Ah, that your are deaf to my laments!
Oh clouds, oh storms, oh winds,
submerge him in those waves.
Fly, whales and orcs,
and fill up the profound gulfs
with these unworldly limbs!
What am I saying? Ah, what am I raving about?
Wretched that I am, what am I asking?
Oh Theseus, oh my Theseus,
that is, that is not I,
that it is not I who hurled these curses,
my anguish spoke,
the pain spoke,
it was my tongue but not my heart.

Wretched that I am, still I give place
to a hope betrayed,
and despite so much scorn
the fire of love is not put out.
For that put out now, death, the unworthy flames.
Oh mother, oh father,
oh superb dwellings of the ancient kingdom,
where my golden cradle stood!
Oh servants, oh faithful friends –
Ah, unjust fate! –
See where a cruel fortune has led me,
see what pain has been given to me as a heritage
for my love, my faith
and for his betraying me.
That is the fate of one who loves too much
and believes too much.