La mamma morta

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"La mamma morta" ("My mother is dead") is an aria of the 1896 opera Andrea Chénier by Umberto Giordano, sung by the role of Maddalena di Coigny (soprano). At this point in the opera Maddalena, daughter of a noble family, was telling Gérard, one of the men rivalling for her love, of how she has been orphaned when her mother was killed protecting her during the turmoils of the French Revolution. She almost gave up on life when her faithful servant Bersi was forced to "trade her beauty" (possibly prostituted) in order to save her when she was ill. This desperation is implied in the line Porto sventura a chi bene mi vuole! (Woe to those who love me well!) which is placed at the centre of the aria. From this point onwards, Maddalena recalls hearing the "voice of love", which promises companionship and forgetfulness of the horrors of Revolution.

The aria is a favourite show piece of a spinto soprano, especially ones who specialize in the Italian idiom of verismo. In the opera the aria is placed in the third act, after Gérard's aria Nemico della patria... Un dì m'era di gioia, another famous aria which showcases the baritone playing Gérard. Comprising a range between C#4 to B5, the tessitura of the aria lies in the octave between F#4 and F#5, with the second section lying higher than the first section. The instrumentation of the aria is especially effective, for example the string tremolo which suggested the fires that destroyed...
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