Occhi di fata

Luigi Denza

Occhi di fata

About this work

This alternately gentle and passionate love song couldn't be more different from the joyful yet steadily pulsed abandon of the composer's Funiculli funiculà, the biggest hit among his approximately 500 vocal compositions. A setting of verses by Tremacoldo, this Fairy's Glance opens with a flowing arpeggio accompaniment in an Andantino tempo. When the voice enters, this rhythmic liquidity becomes even more elastic with the introduction of triplets in the melody line, floating over the escorting sixteenth notes. Through subtle harmonic invention, Denza gives to each verse a new emotional perspective, while always returning to the initial mood.

The singer is in a poetic state of awe occasioned by the "beautiful fairy's glance" which is so "very strange and profound" that the poet declares she has stolen "the peace of my youth." These last lines are underscored by several chromatically altered chords which describe the fleeting shadow of an ethereal, ghostly character, before returning to the relaxed major key lyricism of the opening.

The singer once more addresses the "beautiful lady," but this time she appears somewhat more concretely, and is described as having "blond hair." She is criticized again for having made her admirer older, and the poet asks "Do you think so little of me?" The harmonies modulate less strangely this time, instead producing a romantic mood in the relative minor key, and soon a modulation to the dominant key changes the mood to one that is forward-looking and anticipatory. A long pause indicates a moment given over to thought.

The singer declares his realization ("Oh, yes!"), and in a very gradual crescendo, the poet cannot restrain his passion any longer. He wishes to give her "a fevered kiss and adoration" while embracing her "pale body" in his "open arms and next to my heart." The harmonies here are fairly standard but the melodic line skips to several non-harmonic tones which create momentary tensions.

Once more, the gentle flowing arpeggios are heard, and this time the poet no longer protests but offers the "flower...and blood of my youth" in exchange for her love. The harmonic shading here moves between the previous chromatic alterations (here in a brighter cast) and the romantic, tonal modulations. The repeated last phrase "but give me love" is beautifully scored for sustained notes in the voice with a simple accompanying cascade of arpeggios in the high treble, followed by a single long tone, a chord of emotional longing, and a final warm harmony.