Puccini’s “Un Bel Di” vs. Adele’s “One and Only” “Un Bel Di” of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly is perhaps the most well-known aria of all time. In this particular piece Butterfly, the main character of the play, is painting a picture of her lover’s return. What Butterfly fails to realize is that her husband is no longer in love with her. He had left three years prior to return to America, yet Butterfly still has faith that he will one day return to her.
This operatic selection relates to Adele’s “One and Only” in that both women are experiencing issues with love. One and Only” focuses on the subject of unrequited love. Both songs contain different textures, instrumentation, changes in mood, and other elements to further emphasize the meaning that is to be portrayed. The forms of the songs greatly differ but the message conveys a similar image of a love unreciprocated. In “Un Bel Di” Madame Butterfly is describing how she thinks it will be when her estranged husband, Pinkerton, finally returns to her.
She does not realize that Pinkerton is not in love with her and has moved back to the United States.
In Butterfly’s mind he has never stopped loving her. In the opening phrase, Butterfly sings of how a ship will appear and her husband will ascend from it in pursuit of her. She claims that she will wait at the top of a hill for him as he approaches calling her the old pet names he had once called her. She then comes back to reality and assures Suzuki, her servant, and herself that all of these events will one day happen. “One and Only” expresses the heartfelt feelings of a woman toward a man. The woman is experiencing a deep love for this man but, unfortunately, he does not feel the same way.
Toward the beginning of the song the woman admits that she has pictured being with him, she says, “I don’t know why I’m scared, I’ve been here before. Every feeling, every word, I’ve imagined it all. ” Near the end of the song she sings about her understanding of his resistance to love her and begs him to let her be his one and only. “Un Bel Di” is an aria that was written for the opera Madama Butterfly in 1904 by Giacomo Puccini. 1 It takes the form of simple ternary structure because there are close sections with no development. One and Only” is a piano ballad that follows the form ABBCB. Adele takes up a more gospel style which is where the soulfulness comes into the song. Unlike “one and Only”, “Un Bel Di” is a more classical style because Butterfly is accompanied by an orchestra. During the Romantic period, most arias were written in da Copa form, but Puccini took a different approach with “Un Bel Di”. In the same way, Adele is an artist that takes on the form and sound of British Soul which makes her different from most contemporary artists today. One and Only”, one of Adele’s most popular songs on her sophomore album, 21, falls into the genre of British soul. Adele’s raspy, mezzosprano vocals give the listener a vision of authenticity as she combines genres of gospel music and rhythm and blues to deliver a song that bears her soul. Butterfly in also bears her soul in “Un Bel Di” and she uses her high soprano voice to convey they hopefulness and heart ache that she is feeling due to the unreciprocated love by her husband. The timbre of “Un Bel Di’ dramatically changes from the opening phrases of the aria until the end.
It begins with a solo violin and muted strings as Butterfly begins to paint the picture. Next, low strings and winds begin to take the lead as the ship returns. The next section, where Butterfly sees her husband coming toward her, is lightly emphasized with strings, this time anticipating the beat and creating dramatic tension as she yearns for his embrace. As she timidly decides to wait for him at the top of the hill rather than running to the harbor, the orchestration thins out, and her melody is no longer doubled.
The next section, where Butterfly sees the lone figure of Pinkerton emerge from the crowd, is lightly underscored with strings, this time anticipating the beat and creating dramatic tension as she yearns for his embrace. The orchestra lightens as she decides again not to answer his cries, “partly for fun and partly as not to die at their meeting”. On the word “moire”, the melody returns with full strings, horn and trumpet – a momentary outburst that quiets as she hears Pinkerton call out his pet names for her. She soon breaks the story to tell Suzuki “all this will happen, I promise you.
Keep your fears to yourself; I shall await him with unspeakable faith”. 2 With this return to realism, Puccini releases the full power of the orchestra, a wellspring of sound that is Butterfly’s personal strength and undying belief. The timbre of “One and Only” is raw and has a sense of vulnerability. This contrasts with Butterfly because her timbre is sharp and classical. The piano ballad “One and Only”, uses only the piano in the beginning to portray a since of sadness and loneliness. The introduction of the drums after the beginning of song still creates a feeling of oneness.
In “Un Bel Di” there are many different instruments used to go along with the singing with displays a dynamic view of emotions. Even though both are love songs, Butterfly is more naive to the fact that Pinkerton is not coming back because she is still hopeful of his return and she illustrates how she will react on his homecoming. Adele is more accepting of the fact that it is a love that she will never get back. Both women are deeply in love but the difference in genres and forms allow for different responses for a love that they can never have again.
Although the uses of different instruments create active interpretations of the messages the textures give opposition to the opinion of the songs. The two songs differ in that Butterfly maintained a homophonic texture throughout the entire song, whereas Adele started homophonic and transitioned into polyphonic with the addition if the choir in the background on certain parts. With Butterfly’s strictly homophonic texture, it allows the audience to see her struggle and pain and not immediately relate to her.
Adele’s use of both textures draws the audience in more and allows for instant gratification and more personal understanding from the audience. In conclusion, the aria “Un Bel Di” bears a meaning of a love that shall return. “One and Only” is love song of acceptance after the pleading for her love to come back to her. The songs are drawn together by the similarities in texture and timbre. The instrumentation is both songs support with the feeling and message that is being conveyed through the words of the songs. The different genres permit the artists to expose their feelings of love.
Cite this Puccini’s “Un Bel Di” vs. Adele’s “One and Only”
Puccini’s “Un Bel Di” vs. Adele’s “One and Only”. (2016, Dec 06). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/puccinis-un-bel-di-vs-adeles-one-and-only/