English Translation of “Sempre Libera” from Verdi’s “La Traviata”
Giuseppe Verdi’s opera “La Traviata,” tells the story of courtesan Violetta Valery (“traviata” translates to “fallen woman), who finds love and gives up her free-wheeling lifestyle, only to have her past come back to haunt her.
One of the world’s most popular operas, “La Traviata” is based on the novel “La Dame aux Camelias” by Alexandre Dumas, fils. It premiered in Venice in 1853.
Opens With a Scene in Violetta’s Apartment
We open with a scene in Violetta’s apartment, as she prepares for a party to celebrate her recovery from a recent illness. The devoted Alfredo, who visited every day to check on her, finally confesses his love. Violetta is touched by his deep affection for her, but frets about giving up the lifestyle she to which she has grown accustomed.
She Gives up Her Life as a Courtesan
Eventually, Violetta gives up her life as a courtesan to move to the country with Alfredo, even though they have no money (and now, no source of income). His father Giorgio persuades her to leave Alfredo. Their relationship complicates the engagement of Alfredo’s sister, as society frowns on her past as a courtesan.
Realizes She Has Little Time Left
After an ugly scene where he throws his casino winnings at her in front of a crowd of people, Violetta and Alfredo part ways. Her tuberculosis worsens, and she realizes she has little time left. Giorgio tells Alfredo of the sacrifice Violetta made for him and his family, and he writes to her to tell her he is returning to her side. When he arrives, Alfredo finds Violetta on her deathbed, and she dies in his arms.
Violetta Sings ‘Sempre Libera’
The title of this famous aria translates as “always free,” and describes how Violetta views her lifestyle. The aria is a showcase for a coloratura soprano (one who performs some vocal enhancements such as trills and runs to the original melody). But throughout her proclamation of freedom and high society, Violetta hears Alfredo singing outside and feels the pull of a simpler life with a man she loves, rather than the demands of her profession.
Violetta begins “Sempre Libera” to close out Act I.
The Italian Text
Sempre libera degg´io
folleggiare di gioia in gioia,
vo´che scorra il viver mio
pei sentieri del piacer.
Nasca il giorno, o il giorno muoia,
sempre lieta ne´ ritrovi,
a diletti sempre nuovi
dee volare il mio pensier
Amor è palpito dell´universo intero,
croce e delizia al cor.
Oh! Oh! Amore!
Free and aimless I frolic
From joy to joy,
Flowing along the surface
of life’s path as I please.
As the day is born,
Or as the day dies,
Happily I turn to the new delights
That make my spirit soar.
Love is a heartbeat throughout the universe,
the torment and delight of my heart.
Oh! Oh! Love!