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Texts & Translations: Isabel Leonard

GEORGES BIZET (1838 – 1875)  “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle (Habanera)” from Carmen

Text by Here Meilhac (1831 – 1897) and Ludovic Halévy (1834 – 1908)

Quand je vous aimerai?

When will I love you?

Ma foi, je ne sais pas.
Good lord, I don’t know.

Peut-être jamais, peut-être demain;
Maybe never, maybe tomorrow;

mais pas aujourd’hui, c’est certain.
but not today, that is certain.

L’amour est un oiseau rebelle,
Love is a rebellious bird,

que nul ne peut apprivoiser,
that nothing can tame,

et c’est bien en vain qu’on l’appelle,
and it is truly in vain that one calls him,

s’il lui convient de refuser.
if it wants to refuse.

Rien n’y fait, menace ou prière,
Nothing helps, threats or pleading,

l’un parle bien, l’autre se tait;
one tries convincing, the other remains silent;

et c’est l’autre que je préfère,
and it’s the other whom I prefer,

il n’a rien dit; mais il me plaît.
he hasn’t said anything, but he pleases me.

L’amor est enfant de Bohême,
Love is the child of Bohemia,

il n’a jamais, jamais connu de loi;
it has never known about laws;

Si tu ne m’aime pas, je t’aime;
If you don’t love me, I love you;

Si je t’aime, prend garde à toi!
If I love you, watch out for yourself!

Mais, si je t’aime, prend garde à toi!
But, if I love you, watch out!

L’oiseau que tu croyais surprendre
The bird you thought of surprising

battit de l’aile et s’en vola…
flapped its wing and flew away…

L’amour est loin, tu peux l’attendre;
Love is far away, you can wait for it;

tu ne l’attend plus, il est là!
you need not wait any longer, it is there!

Tout autour de toi, vite,
All around you, quickly,

il vient, s’en va, puis il revient…
it comes, it goes, then it returns…

Tu crois le tenir, il t’évite,
You try to hold it, it avoids you,

tu crois le l’éviter, il te tient!
you try to avoid it, it holds you!

GEORGES BIZET (1838 – 1875) Ouvre ton cœur

Text by Louis Delâtre (1815 – 1893)

La marguerite a fermé sa corolle,
The daisy has closed its petals,

l’ombre a fermé les yeux du jour.
darkness has closed the eyes of the day.

Belle, me tiendras-tu parole?
Beautiful, will you keep your word to me?

Ouvre ton cœur à mon amour.
Open your heart to my love.

Ouvre ton cœur, ô jeune ange, à ma flamme,
Open your heart, oh young angel, to my passion,

qu’un rêve charme ton sommeil.
that a dream may charm your sleep.

Je veux reprendre mon âme,
I wish to recover my soul,

comme une fleur s’ouvre au soleil!
as a flower unfolds to the sun!

XAVIER MONTSALVATGE (1917 – 2002)Canción de cuna para dormir a un negrito” from Cinco Canciones Negras

Text by lldefonso Pereda Valdés (1899 – 1996)

Ninghe, ninghe, ninghe,
Lullay, lullay, lullay,

tan chiquitito,
tiny little child,

el negrito que no quiere dormir.
little black boy who won’t go to sleep.

Cabeza de coco,
Head like a coconut,

grano de café,
head like a coffee bean,

con lindas motitas,
with pretty freckles,

con ojos grandotes
and wide eyes

como dos ventanas que miran al mar.
like two windows look out to sea.

Cierra los ojitos,
Close your tiny eyes,

negrito asustado;
frightened little black boy;

el mandinga blanco
or the white devil

te puede comer.
will eat you up.

¡Ya no eres esclavo!
You’re no longer a slave!

Y si duermes mucho,
And if you sleep soundly,

el señor de casa
the master of the house

promete comprar
promises to buy

traje con botones
a suit with buttons

para ser un ‘groom’.
to make you a “groom”.

Ninghe, ninghe, ninghe,
Lullay, lullay, lullay,

duérmete, negrito,
sleep, little black boy,

cabeza de coco,
head like a coconut,

grano de café.
head like a coffee bean.

CARLOS GARDEL (1890 – 1935) El día que me quieras

Text by Alfredo Le Pera (1900 – 1935)

Acaricia mi sueño,
It caresses my dream,

el suave murmullo de tu suspirar
the soft murmur of your whispers.

Como rie la vida si tus ojos negros me quieran mirar.
How life laughs if your black eyes want to look at me.

Y si es mío el amparo de tu risa leve,
And if it is mine, the shelter of your light smile,

que es como un cantar,
which is like a song,

ella aquieta mi herida,
she soothes my wound,

todo, todo se olvida.
everything, everything is forgotten.

El día que me quieras
The day that you love me

la rosa que engalana
the rose that adorns

se vestirá de fiesta
will dress in celebration

con su mejor color
with it best color

y al viento la campanas
and to the wind the church bells

dirán que ya eres mía,
will say that you are mine,

y locas las fontanas
and the crazy fountains

se contarán su amor.
will tell about their love.

La noche que me quieras
The night you love me

desde el azul del cielo
from the blue of the sky

las estrellas celosas
the jealous stars

nos mirarán pasar.
will watch us pass by.

Y un rayo misterioso
And a mysterious lightning

hará nido en tu pelo,
will nest in your hair,

luciérnaga curiosa
curious firefly

que verá que eres mi consuelo
who will see that you are my consolation.

ARIEL RAMÍREZ (1921 – 2010) Alfonsina y el mar

Text by Felix Luna (1925 – 2009)

Por la blanca arena que lame el mar,
Across the white sand licked by the sea,

su pequeña huella no vuelve más.
her little footprint does not come back anymore.

Un sendero solo de pena y silencio llegó hasta el agua profunda,
A single path from grief and silence reached the deep water,

un sendero solo de penas mudas llegó hasta la espuma.
a single path of silent sorrows reached the foam.

Sabe Dios qué angustia te acompañó,
God knows what anguish accompanied you,

qué dolores viejos calló tu voz,
what old pains your voice never told,

para recostarte arrullada en el canto de las caracolas marinas,
to lie down lulled by the song of the seashells,

ta canción que canta en el fondo oscuro del mar la caracola.
the song sung in the dark sea by the conch.

Te vas, Alfonsina, con tu soledad
You leave, Alfonsina, with your loneliness

¿Qué poemas nuevos fuiste a buscar?
What new poems did you go looking for?

Una voz antigua de viento y de sal,
An ancient voice of wind and salt,

te requiebra el alma y la está llevando,
it crushes your soul and is taking it,

y te vas hacia allá como en sueños.
and you go there, like in dreams.

Dormida, Alfonsina, vestida de mar.
Sleep, Alfonsina, dressed in the sea.

Cinco sirenitas te llevarán
Five little mermaids will escort you

por caminos de algas y de coral
through paths of algae and coral

y fosforescentes caballos marinos harán
and phosphorescent seahorses will sing

una ronda a tu lado
a round by your side

y los habitantes del agua van a jugar
and the inhabitants of the water go to play

sronto a tu lado.
soon by your side.

Bájame la lámpara un poco más,
Lower the lamp a little more,

déjame que duerma nodriza, en paz,
let me sleep, nurse, in peace,

y si llama él no le digas que estoy.
and if he calls, don’t tell him I am here.

Dile que Alfonsina no vuelve.
Tell him that Alfonsina is not coming back.

Y si llama él no le digas nunca que estoy
And if he calls, don’t tell him I am here,

di que me he ido.
say I am gone.

CONSUELO VELÁZQUEZ (1916 – 2005) Bésame mucho

Bésame, bésame mucho,
Kiss me, kiss me a lot,

como si fuera ésta noche
as if this night were

la última vez.
the last time.

Bésame, bésame mucho,
Kiss me, kiss me a lot,

que tengo miedo a perderte,
that I’m afraid to lose you,

perderte después.
lose you afterwards.

Quiero tenerte muy cerca,
I want to hold you very close to me,

mirarme en tus ojos,
to see myself in your eyes,

verte junto a mi.
to see you next to me.

Piensa que tal vez mañana
I think that maybe tomorrow

Yo ya estaré lejos,
I will be far away,

muy lejos de ti.
far away from you.

LEONARD BERNSTEIN (1918 – 1990)Something’s Coming” from West Side Story

Text by Stephen Sondheim (1930 – 2021)

Could be…
Who knows?
There’s something due any day—
I will know right away,
soon as it shows.
It may come cannonballing down through the sky,
gleam in its eye, bright as a rose.
Who knows?

It’s only just out of reach,
down the block, on a beach,
under a tree.
I got a feeling there’s a miracle due,
gonna come true, coming to me!

Could it be? Yes, it could.
Something’s coming, something good,
if I can wait.
Something’s coming, I don’t know what it is,
but it is gonna be great!

With a click, with a shock,
phone’ll jingle, door’ll knock,
open the latch.
Something’s coming, don’t know when, but it’s soon;
Catch the moon, one-handed catch!

Around the corner,
or whistling down the river,
come on, deliver to me!

Will it be? Yes, it will.
Maybe just by holding still,
it’ll be there.
Come on, something, come on in, don’t be shy,
meet a guy, pull up a chair!

The air is humming,
and something great is coming!

Who knows?
It’s only just out of reach,
down the block, on a beach,
maybe tonight…

STEPHEN SONDHEIM (1930 – 2021)Moments in the Woods” from Into the Woods

What was that?

Was that me?
Was that him?
Did a Prince really kiss me?
And kiss me? And kiss me?
And did I kiss him back?

Was it wrong? Am I mad? Is that all?
Does he miss me?
Was he suddenly getting bored with me?

Wake up! Stop dreaming.
Stop prancing about the woods.
It’s not besseming.
What is it about the woods?

Back to life, back to sense,
back to child, back to husband,
you can’t live in the woods.
There are vows, there are ties,
there are needs, there are standards,
there are shouldn’ts and shoulds.

Why not both instead?
There’s the answer, if you’re clever:
have a child for warmth,
and a Baker for bread,
and a Prince for whatever—
never! It’s these woods.

Face the facts, find the boy,
join the group, stop the Giant-
just get out of these woods.
Was that him? Yes it was.
Was that me? No it wasn’t,
just a trick of the woods.

Just a moment, one peculiar passing moment…
Must it all be either less or more, either plain or grand?
Is it always “or”? Is it never “and”?
That’s what woods are for:
for those moments in the woods…

Oh, if life were made of moments,
even now and then a bad one!
But if life were only moments,
then you’d never know you had one.

First a Witch, then a child,
then a Prince, then a moment—
who can live in the woods?
And to get what you wish,
only just for a moment,
these are dangerous woods…

Let the moment go…
don’t forget it for a moment, though.
Just remembering you’ve had an “and”,
when you’re back to “or”,
makes the “or” mean more than it did before.
Now I understand—
and it’s time to leave the woods.

STEPHEN SONDHEIM (1930 – 2012)On the Steps of the Palace” from Into the Woods

He’s a very smart Prince.
He’s a Prince who prepares.
Knowing this time I’d run from him,
he spread pitch on the stairs.
I was caught unawares
and I thought: Well, he cares—
This is more than just malice.
Better stop and take stock
while you’re standing here stuck
on the steps of the palace.

You think, what do you want?
You think make make a decision!
Why not stay and be caught?
You think, well, it’s a thought.
What would be his response?
But then what if he knew
who you were when you know
that you’re not what he thinks that he wants?

And then what if you are
what a Prince would envision?
Although how can you know
who you are ’til you know
what you want? Which you don’t?
So then which do you pick:
While you’re safe, out of sight and yourself,
but where everything’s wrong?
Or where everything’s right
but you know that you’ll never belong?
And whichever you pick, do it quick
’cause you’re starting to stick
to the steps of the palace!

It’s your first big decision.
The choice isn’t easy to make.
To arrive at a ball is exciting and all
once you’re there, though, it’s scary
and it’s fun to deceive
when you know you can leave
but you have to be wary.

There’s a lot that’s at stake
but I’ve stalled long enough
’cause I’m still standing stuck
in the stuff on the steps…
Better run along home
and avoid the collision.
Even though they don’t care
you’ll be better off there
where there’s nothing to choose,
so there’s nothing to lose.
So you pry up your shoes!

Then from out of the blue and without any guide,
you know what your decision is,
which is not to decide.
You’ll just leave him a clue.
For example, a shoe.
And then see what he’ll do.
Now it’s he and not you
who is stuck with a shoe,
in a stew, in the goo.
And you’ve learned something too,
something you never knew.
On the steps of the palace!

JEAN TESORI (b. 1961) The Girl in 14G

Text by Dick Scanlan (b. 1960)

Just moved in to 14G!
So cozy, calm, and peaceful.
Heaven for a mouse like me,
with quiet by the lease-full.
Pets are banned, parties too,
and no solicitations.
Window seat with garden view,
a perfect nook to read a book.
I’m lost in my Jane Austen when I hear…

Say it isn’t so.
Not the flat below.
From an opera wannabe in 13G
A matinee of some cantata,
Wagner’s Ring, and Traviata.

My first night in 14G.
I’ll put up with Puccini.
Brew myself a cup of tea,
crochet until she’s fini.
Half past eight,
not a peep,
except the clock tick-tockin’
Now I lay me down to sleep,
a comfy bed to rest my head,

a stretch, a yawn, I’m almost gone when…

Now the girl upstairs wakes me unawares,
blowing down from 15 G, her reveille.
She’s scattin’ like her name is Ella.
Guess who answers a cappella?

I’m not one to raise my voice,
make a fuss, or speak my mind.
But might I query…
Would you mind if…
Could you kindly…

That felt good!

13, 15, 14G
Your most unlikely trio!
Not quite three part harmony.
All day and night we’re singing…

I’ve had my fill of peace and quiet!
Shout out loud, “I’ve changed my diet!”
All because of 14G!