Entertainment Music "Vissi d'Arte" Lyrics, Text Translation, and History Share PINTEREST Email Print Patricia Racette performs the as Tosca in Puccini's opera, Tosca, at the Metropolitan Opera House on Friday, October 25, 2013. Tosca is one of the world's most performed operas, and it includes famous arias like "Vissi d'Arte.". Photo by Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images Music Classical Music Operas Basics Lyrics Rock Music Pop Music Alternative Music Country Music Folk Music Rap & Hip Hop Rhythm & Blues World Music Punk Music Heavy Metal Jazz Latin Music Oldies Learn More By Aaron Green Aaron Green Music Expert B.A., Classical Music and Opera, Westminster Choir College of Rider University Aaron M. Green is an expert on classical music and music history, with more than 10 years of both solo and ensemble performance experience. Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on 12/29/18 The Context of "Vissi d'Arte" Tosca sings this exquisite aria in the 2nd act of Giacomo Puccini's opera, Tosca, one of the composer's most performed operas. Read the entire synopsis of Puccini's Tosca. Scarpia, Chief of the Secret Police, is investigating the escape of the Roman prisoner, Cesare Angelotti. Always suspicious of Mario Cavaradossi, the painter, Scarpia has his men bring him in for questioning when they run out of leads to find Angelotti. Mario is old friends with Angelotti, and did help him go into hiding in the first act. Despite Scarpia's use of torture, Mario remains steadfastly loyal to his friend and withstands answering any of his questions. When Mario's lover, Floria Tosca, arrives after receiving a dinner invitation from Scarpia, Mario begs her not to say a word. When he is taken into another room, screams of pain can be heard. Scarpia tells Tosca that she can save Mario if she tells him where Angelotti is hiding. At first, she refuses to answer, but as Mario's cries intensify, she gives in and tells Scarpia everything. Mario is escorted back into the room with Tosca, but after happily cheering when it was announced by one of Scarpia's men that Napoleon and his troops had won a battle against Scarpia's allies, Scarpia has his men throw him into prison. Amid Tosca's protests, Scarpia tells her she can save him once more as long as she sleeps with him. Tosca sings "Vissi d'Arte" after avoiding several of his advances, wondering why after all she has done, God would abandon her during this terrible time. "Vissi d'Arte" Italian Lyrics Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore,non feci mai male ad anima viva!Con man furtivaquante miserie conobbi aiutai.Sempre con fè sincerala mia preghieraai santi tabernacoli salì.Sempre con fè sinceradiedi fiori agl’altar.Nell’ora del doloreperchè, perchè, Signore,perchè me ne rimuneri così?Diedi gioielli della Madonna al manto,e diedi il canto agli astri, al ciel,che ne ridean più belli.Nell’ora del dolorperchè, perchè, Signor,ah, perchè me ne rimuneri così? English Translation of "Vissi d'Arte" I lived for my art, I lived for love,I never did harm to a living soul!With a secret handI relieved as many misfortunes as I knew of.Always with true faithmy prayerrose to the holy shrines.Always with true faithI gave flowers to the altar.In the hour of griefwhy, why, o Lord,why do you reward me thus?I gave jewels for the Madonna’s mantle,and I gave my song to the stars, to heaven,which smiled with more beauty.In the hour of griefwhy, why, o Lord,ah, why do you reward me thus? The Best "Vissi d'Arte" Performances It's pretty safe to say that Maria Callas owned the role of Tosca. Her monumental performances of "Vissi d'Arte" are legendary. Though her technique and vocal prowess may be flawed at times, the vulnerability and emotion in her delivery of both voice and acting have the ability to make you feel her heartache and pain as if they were your own. That said, there have been several other excellent performers who have filled the role: Angela Gheorghiu (watch on YouTube) Leontyne Price (watch on YouTube) Maria Callas (watch on YouTube) Montserrat Caballe (watch on YouTube) The History of Tosca French author and playwright, Victorien Sardou, wrote the dramatic play, La Tosca, in 1887. Two years later, Sardou toured the play in Italy, and Giacomo Puccini attended at least two performances. Inspired by what he saw, Puccini believed he could transform the play into an opera. Though Sardou preferred to have a French composer adapt his play, Puccini's publisher, Giulio Ricordi, was able to secure the rights to the play. However, when Sardou expressed his uncertainty for giving his most successful play to a relatively new composer whose music he didn't care for, Puccini abandoned the project. As a result, Ricordi entrusted another composer, Alberto Franchetti, to work on the opera. Franchetti, who never really wanted the job it seemed, stuck with it for four years before giving up and releasing the rights back to Puccini in 1895. From there, it took Puccini another four years and countless arguments with his librettists, Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, and publisher, Giulio Ricordi, to finalize the libretto and score. Despite the mixed reviews from music critics, the audiences loved the opera when it premiered in Rome's Teatro Costanzi on January 14, 1900.