'Una Furtiva Lagrima' Lyrics and English Translation

From Donizetti's Opera 'L'elisir D'amore'

L'Elisir D'Amore
Erich Auerbach / Stringer/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Like Puccini’s "Nessun Dorma," Luciano Pavarotti’s dramatic vocal talents helped make the aria "Una furtiva lagrima" even more popular than it already was. 

“Una furtiva lagrima" was composed by Gaetano Donizetti, with a libretto written by Felice Romani. It is popular among tenors, and is known as a romanza, which is as its name suggests, a romantic aria. 

The Opera 'L'elisir D'amore'

Written in the bel canto style, which put the emphasis on the singer's voice rather than the orchestra, "L'elisir d'amore" is considered a comic opera, since it has a romance as its central plot, and has a happy ending. 

Legend has it that Donizetti wrote the opera in only a few weeks, since he was in great demand after the success of his 1830 work "Anna Bolena." It takes some detail from the composer's personal life; like the lead of the opera, Nemorino, Donizetti had his military service purchased by a wealthy female patron. 

L'elisir d'amore translates from Italian as "The Elixir of Love." It is the most popular of Donizetti's works and was first performed in 1832 in Milan. 

Plot Synopsis of 'L'elisir D'amore'

The poor Nemorino pines for the lovely Adina, who shows him nothing but indifference. When he hears the story of "Tristan and Isolde," and the love potion that causes the title characters to fall madly in love, Nemorino wonders if such a potion exists, and finds a con man who gladly sells him a "potion" that's really just wine.

The usual comic hijinks ensue; Nemorino thinks the potion has made him more desirable to Adina, but she has had feelings for him all along. 

So Nemorino sings "Una furtiva lagrima" in the opera's second act when he discovers that Adina cares for him after all. He sees what he thinks is a tear in her eye (the name of the aria translates to "a secret tear").

Italian Text of 'Una Furtiva Lagrima'

Una furtiva lagrima
negli occhi suoi spuntò:
Quelle festose giovani
invidiar sembrò.
Che più cercando io vo?
Che più cercando io vo?
M'ama! Sì, m'ama, lo vedo. Lo vedo.
Un solo instante i palpiti
del suo bel cor sentir!
I miei sospir, confondere
per poco a' suoi sospir!
I palpiti, i palpiti sentir,
confondere i miei coi suoi sospir...
Cielo! Si può morir!
Di più non chiedo, non chiedo.
Ah, cielo! Si può! Si, può morir!
Di più non chiedo, non chiedo.
Si può morire! Si può morir d'amor.

English Translation of 'Una Furtiva Lagrima'

A single secret tear
from her eye did spring:
as if she envied all the youths
that laughingly passed her by.
What more searching need I do?
What more searching need I do?
She loves me! Yes, she loves me, I see it. I see it.
For just an instant the beating
of her beautiful heart I could feel!
As if my sighs were hers,
and her sighs were mine!
The beating, the beating of her heart I could feel,
to merge my sighs with hers...
Heavens! Yes, I could die!
I could ask for nothing more, nothing more.
Oh, heavens! Yes, I could, I could die!
I could ask for nothing more, nothing more.
Yes, I could die! Yes, I could die of love.