Why should the Devil get all the best tunes?


Giacomo Puccini
(Click to enlarge.)


One of the mysteries of life is why some of the most excruciatingly beautiful music ever written is connected with some of the lowest themes.  I’ll supply two examples, without even going for the low-hanging fruit of rock music.


Consider, for example, “O mio babbino caro,” from Giacomo Puccini’s opera Gianni Schicchi:




Oh my dear papa,
I love him, he is handsome, handsome.
I want to go to Porta Rossa
To buy the ring!

Yes, yes, I want to go there!
And if my love were in vain,
I would go to the Ponte Vecchio
And throw myself in the Arno!

I am anguished and tormented!
Oh God, I’d like to die!
Papa, have pity, have pity!
Papa, have pity, have pity!


Lauretta’s wheedling is bad enough.  But how about “Musetta’s Waltz,” from Puccini’s La Boheme?





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  • John P

    I enjoyed Carmina Burana in ignorant bliss before I knew the lyrics. Well, that happens so often, which is why Elder Packer advised us to sort through our music collections and discard the ones with bad lyrics.

  • Sharee

    One of the most beautify pieces ever written is the Meditation from Thais–no lyrics though. But it represents the process of change in Thais from prostitute to holy woman. So the devil doesn’t have al the good music

  • Sarah Stankiewicz Dailey

    Honestly, this is a strange thought to me. As a student of these works, I can’t separate these arias from their context in the opera; a context where this music essentially exists as the means to flesh out these characters as three-dimensional beings. As a listener, I can think it’s wrong of Musetta to be such a shameless flirt and stick the old guy with the check at the end of Act II, but that’s her character. Her music serves to reinforce this, but it isn’t moral or immoral, in and of itself.
    Besides, if we’re just going to stick with Puccini, I can think of characters who sing beautiful music and do much worse things (Pinkerton, Manon, Scarpia, Turandot) than these two.

  • Bryce Haymond

    Here is a piece that moved me to tears for about three hours a few weeks ago. And the lyrics are exquisite too: http://www.templestudy.com/2013/09/25/homeward-bound-interpretations-marta-keen-thompsons-music/