La donna è mobile EXPLAINED – Rigoletto | Love Italian Opera!
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La donna è mobile EXPLAINED – Rigoletto | Love Italian Opera!

Hi, I am Anna and this is My Italian Circle! La donna è mobile: who doesn’t know this incredibly catchy song? Did you know that it comes from a gruesome tale of love and revenge? Keep watching to find out all about it! Woman is fickle, like a feather in the wind. Ironically, this aria is sung by the Duke of Mantua, a self-proclaimed, unashamed Casanova who likes to chase beautiful women and ruin their reputation. The Duke of Mantua is one of the main characters of the opera Rigoletto, music by Giuseppe Verdi, libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. But before we go any further, I’ll explain some Italian words used to describe opera music. Now, let’s explain the meaning of this beautiful aria. Even if it was written in 1851, the language of this aria, although very poetic and slightly old-fashioned, is quite straightforward, and could very well be used as the lyrics of a modern song. This is probably one of the reasons why it’s still so popular. Also, composer Giuseppe Verdi definitely knew how to write a catchy refrain! Along with the Duke of Mantua, the other main characters of the opera are: Rigoletto, the Duke’s jester; his daughter Gilda; and hit man Sparafucile. With an assassin in the cast, this story is bound to end badly. His name, Sparafucile, literally “rifle shooter”, tells it all. The Duke of Mantua seduces Rigoletto’s daughter Gilda. Rigoletto does his best to show her what kind of man the Duke is, but she is incurably in love with him. When Rigoletto hires an assassin to avenge his daughter’s honour, Gilda decides to die in the Duke’s stead. La donna è mobile is not the only song that defines the cheerful character of the Duke of Mantua, who happily sails through the entire opera completely unaware of the tragedy that unravels around him. He also sings another memorable melody to Sparafucile’s sister, and manages to make her fall in love with him, too. It may seem odd to find such exquisite love songs in a tragic, brutal story like Rigoletto, but this is the beauty of opera: an emotional roller-coaster where music and words can take us from excitement and exhilaration down to utter despair, and back again. I’ll leave you with a last aria, with which the Duke of Mantua reveals his true self to the audience at the beginning of the opera: Questa o quella per me pari sono – this woman or that are the same to me! If you’re new to opera, I hope that this introduction intrigued you and aroused your curiosity. There are many more wonderful arias that I would like to talk about with you. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel and hit the bell icon to be notified as soon as we publish new content! And if you enjoy our videos, you can now support us on Patreon! Thank you for watching. I’ll see you soon!


  • Alex MacPhee

    I went to a live opera for the first time, just two years ago. It was Rigoletto. I knew the story would be melodramatic and require enormous suspension of disbelief, but from the moment the curtain went up, before Rigoletto had sung a note, I was hooked, drawn in by the sheer physical presence. The great arias were still filling my head days later, and for the first time, I understood why opera is such a passion for those who love it. I've joined their number.

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