Vesti la Giubba (Put on the costume)
is a famous tenor aria
performed as part of the opera Pagliacci
, written and composed by Ruggiero Leoncavallo
, and first performed in 1892. Vesti la Giubba
is the conclusion of the first act, when Canio discovers his wife's infidelity, but must nevertheless prepare for his performance as Pagliaccio the clown because the 'show must go on
The aria is often regarded as one of the most moving in the operatic repertoire of the time. The pain of Canio is portrayed in the aria and exemplifies the entire notion of the 'tragic clown': smiling on the outside but crying on the inside. This is still displayed today as the clown motif often features the painted on tear running down the cheek of the performer.
Since the opera's first performance in 1892, this aria in particular has ingrained itself well into popular culture, and has often been featured in many renditions, mentions, and spoofs over the years. The 1904 recording by Enrico Caruso was the first million-selling record in history.
Translation in English
Recitar! Mentre preso dal delirio,|
non so più quel che dico,
e quel che faccio!
Eppur è d'uopo, sforzati!
Bah! sei tu forse un uom?
Tu se' Pagliaccio!
Vesti la giubba,
e la faccia infarina.
La gente paga, e rider vuole qua.
E se Arlecchin t'invola Colombina,
ridi, Pagliaccio, e ognun applaudirà!
Tramuta in lazzi lo spasmo ed il pianto
in una smorfia il singhiozzo e 'l dolor, Ah!
sul tuo amore infranto!
Ridi del duol, che t'avvelena il cor!
To act! While out of my mind,
I no longer know what I say,
or what I do!
And yet it's necessary... make an effort!
Bah! Are you not a man?
You are Pagliaccio!
Put on your costume,
powder your face.
The people pay to be here, and they want to laugh.
And if Harlequin shall steal your Columbine,
laugh, Pagliaccio, so the crowd will cheer!
Turn your distress and tears into jest,
your pain and sobbing into a funny face - Ah!
at your broken love!
Laugh at the grief that poisons your heart!
The 1971 album Spike Jones Is Murdering The Classics
features a satirization of Vesti la giubba called "Pal-Yat-Chee"- the name intended as a play on the name of the opera. The song features vocals by Homer and Jethro
as bumpkins who try to make sense of the opera and its main character.
Rock band Queen use part of the melody for the opening lines of the 1984 song It's a Hard Life from the album The Works.
"Vesti la Giubba" as performed by Tenor great Mario Lanza in 1959 shortly before his death at the age of 38.