'Bella Siccome Un Angelo' Lyrics and Text Translation

Malatesta's aria sets in motion the plot of Donizetti's opera "Don Pasquale"

Laura Solari, Armando Falconi e Franco Coop nel "don Pasquale" (Mastrocinque, 1940).

 da CINEMA/Wikimedia Commons

An opera buffa in three acts, "Don Pasquale" is a comedy of errors in the style of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Set in Rome in the mid 19th century, Gaetano Donizetti's opera in three acts tells the story of the titular old bachelor who is scheming to prevent his nephew Ernesto from inheriting his fortune.

The song "Bella siccome un angelo" is the beginning of Malatesta's plot to trick Don Pasquale into marrying his non-existent sister, to teach the older man a lesson. 

History of 'Don Pasquale'

Considered by many to be the finest of Donizetti's more than five dozen operas, "Don Pasquale" debuted at in 1843. It was a popular success, and most opera critics regard it as one of the best of the opera buffa genre. During its composition, Donizetti quarreled with librettist Giovanni Ruffini so much that the latter did not put his name on the opera. For many years after its release, there was confusion about who had written the libretto.

The Plot of 'Don Pasquale'

Pasquale needs to marry and have an heir and enlists the help of Ernesto's friend Dr. Malatesta to find him a wife. In a convoluted series of events (which is how an opera buffa often plays out), Malatesta gets Pasquale to marry Norina, the woman Ernesto is in love with. Pasquale believes her to be Malatesta's sister Sofronia. The plan is to get Pasquale to sign over his fortune to Sofronia/Norina (who is in on the scheme). 

Malatesta Sings 'Bella Siccome Un Angelo'

Malatesta, recognizing Don Pasquale's foolishness (he is an old man, after all), decides to teach him a lesson. He returns to Don Pasquale singing this aria describing the suitable bride he has found who is "beautiful like an angel."

Italian Lyrics of 'Bella Siccome Un Angelo '

Bella siccome un angelo
in terra pellegrino.
Fresca siccome il giglio
che s'apre in sul mattino.
Occhio che parla e ride,
sguardo che i cor conquide.
Chioma che vince l'ebano
sorriso incantator.
Sorriso incantator.
Alma innocente e candida,
che sé medesma ignora;
modestia impareggiabile,
dolcezza che innamora
ai miseri pietosa,
gentil, buona, amorosa.
Il ciel l'ha fatta nascere
per far beato un cor.
per far beato un cor.
Il ciel l'ha fatta nascere
per far beato un cor.
Il ciel l'ha fatta nascere
per far beato un cor.

English Translation of 'Bella Siccome Un Angelo'

Beautiful as an angel
like a pilgrim on earth.
Fresh as a lily
which opens in the morning.
Eyes that speak and laugh,
looks that can conquer the heart.
Hair blacker than ebony
enchanting smile.
Enchanting smile.
A soul so innocent and candid,
that ignores itself;
unparalleled modesty,
sweetness that with which one falls in love
compassionate to the poor,
gentle, good, loving.
Heaven gave her birth
to make happy hearts.
to make happy hearts.
Heaven gave her birth
to make happy hearts.
Heaven gave her birth
to make happy hearts.