From the YouTube Music Video Archives: “Santo di patria” from Verdi’s Attila, performed by Maria Chiara

The other night I saw the Seattle Opera performance of Verdi’s Attila, in which John Ralyea (as Attila) and Ana Lucrecia García (as Odabella) were especially good. This is one of Verdi’s earlier operas, and I rather enjoyed those moments that seemed more reminiscent of Rossini’s bel canto than the fiery romanticism that abounds in Verdi’s later works. Although there’s plenty of that on display here as well.

You might also enjoy Dame Joan Sutherland’s performance in a video that nicely includes the score so you can read along as Sutherland runs up and down the staff as if she were tossing off the easiest aria in the repertoire. While I think Chiara captures the heroic force of Odabella in a more dramatically powerful performance, Sutherland’s perfectly balanced coloratura through all these runs is simply astonishing—flawless, to my untrained ear.


  1. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says


    Still, possibly offensive to the Hun-American community.

    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

      Maybe consult the Hun-American Activities Committee.


      • Quin Finnegan says

        Thanks … very pHunny! No offence intended, of course—for my part, at any rate. Although Verdi (or his librettist, Solera) might have heard from them back in the day, as he manages to kill off Attila at the end of the show, contrary to history. Perhaps not unlike Inglorious Bastards, in which Tarantino kills off Hitler in a burning Parisian movie theater.

        • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

          ‘How you like that, Mr Hitler?’

          Hitler was a ‘Hun’ in a sense, as well (no offense to Ms Churchill and Mr Potter, of course).

          Inglourious Basterds is a good comparison — and a good reminder that all fiction is, qua fiction, an invention of the author, however many true-to-life elements he chooses to incorporate — even in ‘realistic’ fiction. Hitler didn’t die in a Parisian movie theater in 1944; but neither did Binx Bolling exist, much less see William Holden on a sidewalk in New Orleans. Percy even included notes at the beginning of The Moviegoer and The Last Gentleman to alert the reader that he’d shifted the geography of his settings; are these books then ‘speculative fiction’ — science fiction, fantasy, alternate history?

          I think the term ‘speculative fiction’ is redundant. As Flannery O’Connor’s neighbor said, her stories ‘just gone and shown you how some folks would do’. The writer of fiction is always ‘speculating’ about how the world would be if it were different in some ways than it actually is — whether the degree of difference is small, as in The Moviegoer, or great (greater, anyway), as in Love in the Ruins. But enough bloviation.

          • Angelico,

            I was NOT going to make that joke – even if you paid me. So there.

            Ah, but you touch on the very point that Harry Stottle makes in his Ur-Cliff’s Notes on Greek Poetry:

            It is, moreover, evident from what has been said, that it is not the function of the poet to relate what has happened, but what may happen- what is possible according to the law of probability or necessity. The poet and the historian differ not by writing in verse or in prose. The work of Herodotus might be put into verse, and it would still be a species of history, with meter no less than without it. The true difference is that one relates what has happened, the other what may happen. Poetry, therefore, is a more philosophical and a higher thing than history: for poetry tends to express the universal, history the particular.



            • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

              Re the joke: You’re right, too obvious, and I apologize for the implicit (though Hunintended) insult to your sense of humor. That one was really more on Lickona’s level.

              Re poetry/fiction and history/nonfiction: That’s a bingo! Thanks much for sharing that bit of the Philosopher’s notes.

            • From Auden’s ‘New Year Letter (1940)’, Part One:

              Art in intention is mimesis
              But, realised, the resemblance ceases;
              Art is not life and cannot be
              A midwife to society,
              For art is a fait accompli.
              What they should do, or how or when
              Life-order comes to living men
              It cannot say, for it presents
              Already lived experience
              Through a convention that creates
              Autonomous completed states.
              Though their particulars are those
              That each particular artist knows,
              Unique events that once took place
              Within a unique time and space,
              In the new field they occupy,
              The unique serves to typify,
              Becomes, though still particular,
              An algebraic formula,
              An abstract model of events
              Derived from past experiments,
              And each life must itself decide
              To what and how it be applied.

  2. I don’t listen to opera. I prefer music that flushes out emotion, or makes one feel happy or happier, or steadies the nerves. But I don’t see that opera does any of these things, although I might be wrong. I’m sure it’s good in small doses, and sometimes just what’s needed, but I can’t imagine a lot of it is good for you.

  3. Jonathan Webb says

    I liked the pop music featured in the film, “A Clockwork Orange”, such as “I Want to Marry A Lighthouse Keeper”.

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