Libro de villanelle, moresche et altre canzoni (Orlando di Lasso)

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General information

Description: A book of Villanelles and Moresche (songs sung from the perspective of black Moorish servants/slaves), all written by Orlando di Lasso. Many are, if not bawdy, then at least tongue-in-cheek. Some will be offensive to modern ears, particularly the Moresche pieces, as the anonymous lyricists often portray those characters in highly caricatured and stereotyped manners.

First Publication date and place: 1581 Paris: Adrian le Roy and Roberto Ballard.

Known editions: 2, both with the same index.

  • 1581 - Libro di Villanelle, Moresche, et altre Canzoni, a 4. 5. 6. et 8. voci. Di Orlando di Lasso. In Parigi. Per Adriano le Roy et Roberto Ballard. Stampatori Regij 1581. Con privilegio de sua magestà per dieci annj.
  • 1582 - Libro de Villanelle, Moresche, et altre Canzoni, a 4. 5. 6. et 8. voci. di Orlando di Lasso. In Anversa per Pietro Phalesio et Giovanni Bellero. 1582.

Genre: Secular.

Facsimile 1582 edition, from the Munich Digitization Center

List of works

# Title Voices Comments from source
1 S'io ve dico ca sete la chiù bella 4
2 Ecco la nimph'ebrayca chiamata, più brutt'assai 4
3 Ad altre le voi dare ste passate, che non Che voglio 4
4 Tutto lo dì mi dici: canta, canta. Non vedi ca non posso refiatare 4
5 Saccio na cosa ch'è di legn'e tonda e con ferretto 4
6 Par ch'hai lasciato de non t'affacciare per far sapere ca si malatesta 4
7 Hai Lucia, bona cosa io dic'a tia che patrona fatta franca 4
8 Io ti voria contar la pena mia, Ma non ce bastariano mille mesi 4
9 O belle fusa, chi ne vo'acatare. Noi le vendimo 4
10 Ogni giorno m'ha ditt'a chi favelli? Dici che m'ami 4
11 S'io fusse ciaul'et tu lo campanile, Ben spesso te voria montare 4
12 Matona mia cara, mi follerte canzon cantar sotto finestra 4
13 Lucia celu hai biscania Tambili li gua ciri cian 4
14 S'io ti vedess'una sol volt'il giorno, contento ne staria 4
15 O occhi, manza mia, cigli dorati, o faccia d'una luna 4
16 Alla lapia calia. Siamo bernaguala tanbilili schinchina 4
17 Mi me chiamere mistre righe, che con le bucal vo inturne 5
18 Cathalina apr'a finestra se voi sent'a Giorgia cantara 6
19 Andar a Valenza schincina bacu affaci'un poco quissa pertusa 6 seconda parte
20 Chi chi li chi. Cu cu ru cu. U scontienta, U beschina, U sprotunata me 8 A otto.
21 Giorgia non pote cantar Che sta murta passionata Tutta negra 6 A sei.
22 Tutto lo dì mi dici: canta, canta. Non vedi ca non posso refiatare 8 A otto.
23 Zanni. Piasi patrò. Dov'estu? E so in cantina 8 Dialogo. A otto.
24 Olà, o che bon eccho. Pigliamoci piacere 8 Eccho. A otto

Works at CPDL

Title Year No. Genre Subgenre Vo. Voices
Alla lapia calia 1581 16 Secular Madrigals 4 SATB
Cathalina apra finestra 1581 18 Secular Madrigals 6 SSATTB
Chi chi li chi 1581 20 Secular Madrigals 6 SSATTB,SSATBB
Hai, Lucia, bona cosa 1581 7 Secular Madrigals 4 SATB
Io ti vorria contar 1581 8 Secular Madrigals 4 SATB
Lucia, celu 1581 13 Secular Madrigals 4 SATB
Matona, mia cara 1581 12 Secular Madrigals 4 SATB
O belle fusa 1581 9 Secular Madrigals 4 SATB
O la, o che bon eccho! 1581 24 Secular Madrigals 8 SATB.SATB
O occhi, manza mia 1581 15 Secular Madrigals 4 SATB
S'io ve dico ca sete la chiù bella 1581 1 Secular Madrigals 4 SATB
Saccio na cosa 1581 5 Secular Madrigals 4 SATB
Tutto lo dì a 4 1581 4 Secular Madrigals 4 SATB
Tutto lo dì a 8 1581 22 Secular Madrigals 8 SATB.SATB

Translations of Texts

Note: "Moor" as used in these translations should be interpreted as a derogatory term.


S'io ve dico ca sete la chiu bella
If I tell you you are the most beautiful
of all the beautiful in the world,
I'm telling the truth, and you hold it against me!

Ecco la nimph'Ebrayca chiamata
Here she comes, the onle they call the Jewish harlot,
more evil still than Menica and Chiara!
Mock her, go at her, chase her away!
Ho there, ho there, weed trodden underfoot,
I see it well that you love another.

Ad altre le voi dare ste passate
Yes, seize another one by the seat of his pants,
but I for one won't let myself be taken in.
La triche triche triche trac e trucco,
it's the other one that was caught, I got off scot free!

Tutto lo di mi dici
All day you say to me, 'sing, sing!'
Don't you see I can scarcely breathe!
And then, what's the good of singing like that?
I'd rather you say to me: 'Play me some music.'
It wouldn't be vesper bells I'd ring,
I'd play on your little guitar.
And if I live… riro rorirogne,
Ah, if only I held you 'neath my fingers!

Saccio 'na cosa ch'è di legn'e tonda
I know something round made of wood,
that is made to spin with string around a stick
Nenina, you mad and giddy creature,
you are just like a spinning teetotum, little girl

Parch'hai lasciato de non t'affacciare?
Why don't you appear at your window any more?
To tell me that you are a capricious creature?
Well, hapless girl, in spite of your hoity-toity airs,
you won't get don Diego to take the bait.

Perhaps you imagine you'll hurt me
by keeping away from me lie a recluse?
Well, hapless girl, in spite of your hoity-toity airs,
you won't get don Diego to take the bait.

O stop it, you should be shamed.
All day, all you think of is hatching little plots!
Well, hapless girl, in spite of your hoity-toity airs,
you won't get don Diego to take the bait.

The woman who behaves not according to her custom
has deceived you or is about to do so.
So, just listen to me for a moment:
I know you don't make two pairs with three oxen.

Io ti voria contar la pena mia
I'd like to tell you of my sufferings,
but a thousand months would not be enough.
I ask, 'Do you love me?'
You answer, 'Yes.'
I say, 'Prove it then!'
You say, 'That can't be done.'

Hai, Lucia, hai, Lucia,
I've got some good news for you:
my master's freed me
and I want to marry you.
Your Giorgio will come and take you away,
he'll invite all the Moors
and they'll play all night.
Lucia, God has given you to me,
and all the Moors will sing.
My love, listen to me,
answer me, don't go to sleep.
Put water on the fire, my beauty,
for I am burning up
and you make fun of me.
I keep crying 'Alas!'
and you don't listen,
and my voice is all hoarse.
My beauty, put water on the fire
that'll break out, I'm burning, I'm quite roasted!

O belle fusa! chi ne vo'accattare
What lovely tools! Who'll buy them?
We'll even loan them out on trial.
They're brand new.
Do you want to try them? Come and take them.
We'll let you have them on trial.

Ogni giorno m'han ditt'a chi favelli
I've been told whom you talk to every day,
You tell me you love me, you want me with you.

'I'd like to see that' as the blind man said,
All your fine oaths, when you keep on avoiding me,
as the Spaniard says, are worth less than nothing.

S'io fusse ciaul'et tu lo campanile
If I were a bird and you were a church steeple,
how I'd like to land on you,
and sing all day long,
hopping around all the time,
giving you a thousand kisses,
and then, at night, I'd come in at your window.

Matona mia cara
My dear loffley voman, vant to sing a song,
sing under your vindow, lansquenet good boy.
Don, don, don, diridiri, don, don, don.

Blease Leesen, for I sing ferry vell,
and I loff you like a good fat capon.
Don, don, don, diridiri, don, don, don.

Ven I go hunting, go vith falcon,
pring you voodcock fat as kidneys.
Don, don, don, diridiri, don, don, don.

I cannot say fine things,
do not know Petrarch or the Fountain of Helicon.
Don, don, don, diridiri, don, don, don.

If you vant loff me, not be lazy,
all night long I fuck, shoving like a ram.
Don, don, don, diridiri, don, don, don.

Lucia, celu, ahi, ahi, biscania
GIORGIO: Lucia, heaven above! Ah, you rascally girl,
Tambilililili, gua, ciri, ciri, cian,
Don't you recognize your Giorgio, your little singer?
If you caress me,
I'll caress you, too, gua gua.
If you want sweet little golden shoes,
with pretty heels,
a fine cotton blouse,
a lovely flounced skirt,
Giorgio will give you all this,
a cushion with fur that's green, brown
scarlet, ginger,
and don't blush
if I sing to you as if to a countess,
to a highness, to a madonna.
Open you door to me! Your Giorgio
is singing the praises of your greatness!
O, my Lucia,
don't you recognize your Giorgio
who loves you so much,
who sees nobody else but you?
O, o, gricache, za, za, baraza
Tiri tiri, gua gua

LUCIA: You scummy Moor, I shit in your face!

GIORGIO: Alabachi laudi barichigno

LUCIA: You poxy hound, may the devil take you,
There's nothing for you to lick here.

GIORGIO: Something to drink, tiri tiri, guu, gua,
O my Lucia!

LUCIA: O, that pig Giorgio pisses in bed!
Don't tell me it's just sweat.
You stink like rotting fish,
Moor face, scabby hound.

GIORGIO: Ziche lizi diridindina,
we bumpkins from Moor land
we've got faces like Moors,
Dindiri, dindiridina

S'io ti vedess'una sol volt'il giorno
If I could see you once a day,
I'd be happy all night,
fa fu re ra, you fair spring flower.

Mi me chiamere Mistre Righe
I'm called Mister Straight-up,
the man who's always got his jug in his hand.
I'm the friend of all the ladies,
for I stuff the loaf in the oven,
day and night, night and day.
I love eating figs.*
I'm called Mister Straight-up.

When a fair lady asks
if the loaf has risen properly,
it immediately springs up
'neath the delicate touch of fingers.
Then she offers me good wine
so that I can get over my exhaustion.
I'm called Mister Straight-up.

And when I take the loaf
to the ladies,
they say: 'Baker,
sing us a song.'
And quickly on my pipe
I play them my little song.
I'm called Mr. Straight-up.

  • In dialect, synonym for female genitalia.

Cathalina, apra finestra
GIORGIO: Caterina, open your window,
if you want to hear your Giorgio sing.
If you listen to my song,
you'll forget your ill humour.
I beg of you, my heart,
don't fly into a rage
when Giorgio wants to sing
to make you a little happier.
Wait a little, don't go away,
let me tune my lute.
Tron, tron, tiri tron…
Come on, show your face,
hurry up, devil take you!
Come to the window,
show your face for just a minute.
I'm going to sing you a song
just like the drummers do,
for you, my lovely one,
for you, rascally girl, the light of my life.
 'Your hair as soft as milk,
 your forehead like a crescent moon,
 your eyes like two lanterns,
 your straight and splendid nose,
 your face, shining like an emerald
 your lips like marzipan
 your mouth like that of a doe,
 your breasts as big as wine gourds,
 let your Giorgio drink from them,
 lovely child!
 All night long, the cock sings*,
 and Giorgio can no longer go to sleep.'

CATERINA: You can die from the pox
like a wretch, you son of a bitch.
Get the hell out of here, go and drink your fill in the kitchen
Like a black cat.

GIORGIO: Since you don't want to come out,
I'm going away forever.

CATERINA: Off with you, you wretched dog snout.
Over my dead body
would I be found behind a door
in Giorgio's arms.

  • In the Italian, as well as in English, this is an intentional metaphor for male genitalia.

Canta, Giorgia, canta che bede namolata
- Sing, Giorgio, here comes your beloved!
- Giorgio can't sing!
- What? Are you dead, or love-sick
- All Moors are struck dumb
when they see white people
- Sing, Giorgio, sing!
To your very good health,
we are Moors!
Come, Lucia, come,
my master is going to free me,
my master wants me to marry you!
Come on, you're as slow as a snail,
I'm going to give you a new dress,
off with your old rags,
I'll have you dressed like a queen!
Tinche, tinc, tinc…
The master is asleep, Parino is under the bed,
the Mistress leapes up,
Master shouts, Mistress is off,
Parino plays the bagpipes.
I'm the king, gua gua!

O Lucia, miau, miau,
GIORGIO: O Lucia, meow, meow,
stop making fun of me.
Listen to my serenade.

LUCIA: You ugly mug,
go and lick the pots,
arse full of shit!
Who's this bumpkin
meowing at me like a cat?

GIORGIO: It's your poor Giorgio,
who is so fond of you.
I beg you, pretty backside,
stop playing the fool.
Is your heart made of stone?
That other fellow you love
couldn't care less for you.
O Lucia, get out of bed, stop pretending to be asleep,
listen: your handsome Giorgio is going to sing
with his bagpipes and drum
to serenade you
O Lucia, you sweet little thing,
why are you so angry?
Meow, meow, my cat is miserable!

LUCIA: Get into the kitchen,
lick the pots,
you arse full of shit!

GIORGIO: Listen, listen to the serenade
your Giorgio will sing for you;
I love you so dearly!

- Zanni!
- Yes, master?
- Where are you?
- I'm in the cellar.
- And what are you doing in the cellar, you good-for-nothing?
- I'm drinking, master.
- You'll ruin my household!
Come out, you wretch!
- Wait, master, I've lost the stopper of the barrell!
- O, poor Pantaloon! Plug it with your nose, you ass!
- It's all right, I've found it!
- Plug it well, my dear Zanni!
- O, Master!
- What's wrong?
- It's a piece of dog shit.
- O, you wretch, stuff it in your mouth.
- Oh, here it is, I've found it!
- Well, stick it in quickly, and then come up here!
- Sorry, master, but I can't come up.
- And why not, you wretch?
- Why not? Because I want to write a sonnet.
- O, you rascal, I think you must be drunk!
- Yes, sir, yes, yes, you're quite right!
- Well, go to sleep, pig that you are!
- Master!
- What is it now?
- I just wanted to say goodnight.
- Farewell, Zanni.
- Farewell, master.
- Farewell.
- Farewell.

Ola, o che bon eccho!
Ho there, what a lovely echo!
Let's have some fun!
Ha ha ha ha!
Let's all laugh!
Good companion,
what is't you want?
I want you to sing us a song.
Why yes?
Why not?
Because I don't want to.
And why don't you want to?
Because I don't want to.
Shut up then, I say to you!
Shut up yourself!
Yes, sir!
Come on, let's leave it at that!
Let's go!
Farewell, fair echo!
Rest in peace!
That's quite enough!