La donna e mobile

Aria Details
Voice Type: Tenor
Role: Duke of Mantua
Language: Italian
Translation: Woman is fickle
Opera: Rigoletto
Composer: Verdi

OperaPulse’s Aria of the Week – Yet another famous aria from Verdi’s Rigoletto, La donna e mobile (“Woman is fickle”) is not an easy sing for tenors. While the melody is simple and very memorable, the tessitura, or where the voice sits, is quite high. The melody is so catchy that Verdi, in fact, only released the music to the tenor mere hours before opening night in fear of the gondoliers hearing it and singing it through out the canals (even pre-iTune days had pirated music!). Pavarotti is probably the name that pops up most when one thinks of this aria, but the many singers below rival his performance. For example, even though it is an old recording, Jussi Björling’s rendition (below) is extraordinary.

La donna e mobile is sung by the capricious Duke of Mantua. The aria does not play a significant role in the plot of Rigoletto but illustrates the Duke’s arrogant personality. Why is he arrogant? The song is about woman being fickle and the Duke turns out to be the volatile character in the opera.

Do you have a favorite or does Pavarotti still reign?

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