Vivaldi/Giacomelli: “Sposa, Son Disprezzata”: For Cello

Here is the sheet music for the transcendental aria “Sposa, Son Disprezzata” (“As a Wife, I am Scorned”) in a transcription for cello that is copied from the version that Cecilia Bartoli sings on her album “Se Tu M’Ami” (“If You Love Me”). Apparently, the composer of this aria was not in fact Vivaldi but rather Geminiano Giacomelli, from whose opera “La Merope” (1734) Vivaldi borrowed the aria, modifying it slightly and including it in his own opera “Bajazet” (1735). Giacomelli wrote approximately 20 operas but is nowadays completely forgotten. It would be interesting to see just how much Vivaldi modified this aria because in his version it is an absolute masterpiece.

It may seem curious – bizarre even – that, in the cellofun Performance Versions, a grace note has been added just before some of the downward shifts.

This is an expressive device, never notated by composers but used very often by singers, to make downward shifts sound as beautiful as upward shifts. This little “trick” is, in fact, an exact mirror of what we do spontaneously (as this also is ever notated by composers) in order to make our most expressive glissando in upward shifts (see Glissando). The examples below show what the above bars would look like if the shifts were in an upward direction  rather than downwards:

The aria is presented here in its original key, in which it lies beautifully for the cello in spite of its relatively low register:

  1.   Edited Performance Version
  2.   Clean Performance Version
  3.   Literal Transcription
  4.   Piano Score

And here below is a play-along audio accompaniment, with a magical introduction that lasts over one minute before the cello (voice) melody enters: