Today, I wanted to share one of my favorite pieces of all time for soprano—“Lúa Descolorida,” by Osvaldo Golijov. The piece was premiered in 2002 by Dawn Upshaw and the Minnesota Orchestra. The recording below is from Dawn’s album “Voices of Light,” and features her long-time pianist/collaborator Gilbert Kalish. The poem is written in Gallego (the language of the Galicia region in Spain), by the Galcian poet Rosalía de Castro. Golijov’s composition was inspired by Dawn’s versatile and sparkling voice. The majority of the piece sits in a Dawn’s low, colorful, chesty register, creating a mournful sobbing color throughout the declamation of text. Golijov’s melismas frame the piece, and take Dawn seamlessly through her sparkling higher registers. Although it is clear that the vocal writing in this piece is virtuosic, the atmosphere of this song feels stunningly and appropriately intimate.
English Translation by Osvaldo Golijov:
like the color of pale gold:
You see me here and I wouldn’t like you
to see me from the heights above.
Take me, silently, in your ray
to the space of your journey.
Star of the orphan souls,
I know that you don’t illuminate
sadness as sad as mine.
Go and tell it to your master
and tell him to take me to his place.
But don’t tell him anything,
because my fate won’t change
here or in other worlds.
If you know where Death
has her dark mansion,
Tell her to take my body and soul together
To a place where I won’t be remembered,
Neither in this world, nor in the heights above.