I just finished watching Vincenzo Bellini's La Sonnambula with Dessay and Diego Florez. Why had I never listened to this entire opera before? Bellini's music seems to exist on an otherworldly space, not comparable to anything and yet so brilliantly reflective of itself, like Mozart. I watched the opera to get a better understanding of one of my favorite arias "Ah, non credea mirarti." In this aria, Anima is sleepwalking, singing about how she has lost her love, Elvino. Even though her tears might be able to return his image to her, he will always be gone.
I realized while watching the opera that the aria is talking about death and relating it in a really brilliant way to love and the passing of lovers. The memory of love and time passing. The feeling of death is jolting. You feel as though the person could walk in the room at any moment, and in a photograph, the person is forever frozen in an image that will only bring back memories. Photographs will only bring the idea of that person back. Not the person.
When Elvino won't believe Amina's innocence (she sleepwalked into another man's room; she's a somnabulist!), she sees Elvino now distanced to her like a photograph.
Potria novel vigore
Il pianto, il piano mio ricarti
Ma ravvivar l'amore
Il pianto mio ah no, no non puo'
In the first two stanzas here she thinks that perhaps her tears can bring him back to her, that she can mourn and always in her mourning remember what it felt like to be happy. And she hopes that he is as happy as her unhappiness. In the third and fourth stanza, she realizes that even if the memories are with her, she cannot ever have the same love again.
Interesting is the fact that while she sings this she is asleep, balancing on a wire in mid air, speaking from her subconscious about something she will never remember. She is almost about to fall.