Mozart &
Material Culture


Recitative and aria ‘Misera, dove son!—Ah! Non son’io che parlo’ for soprano, two violins, two violas, basso, two flutes and two horns, dated Munich, 8 March 1781. The autograph survives at the Bavarian State Library, Munich.

While in Munich for the composition and first performance of Idomeneo K366, the court composer Christian Cannabich, who had known Mozart since 1764, introduced him to Countess Josefa Paumgarten (née Lerchenfeld), a favourite at the court of the Elector of Bavaria, Karl Theodor. A reference in a letter of 24 March 1781 suggests Mozart may have written an aria for her: ‘I don’t need the 2 quartets or the Paumgarten aria. . .’. Traditionally this is assumed to be K369 since the surviving autograph includes the notation, not in Mozart’s hand: ‘à la Comtesse de Paumgarten Veuve’. 

K369 autograph first page.jpg

W. A. Mozart, Recitative and aria K369, first page of the autograph score (Munich, Bavarian State Library)

The text derives from act III, scene 12, of Metastasio’s opera seria Ezio:

Misera, dove son! L'aure del Tebro Unhappy one, where am I! Are those
Son queste ch'io respiro? the airs of the Tiber that I breathe?
Per le strade m'aggiro Do I go through the streets
Di Tebe e d'Argo? O dalle greche sponde, Of Thebes and Argos? Or from the Grecian shores
Di tragedie feconde, of fecund tragedies.
Le domestiche furie The domestic furies
Vennero a questi lidi, Have come to these shores
Della prole di Cadmo, e degli Atridi? The offspring of Cadmus or the Atridi?
Là, d'un monarca ingiusto There, the ungrateful cruelty
L'ingrata crudeltà m'empie d'orrore, of an unjust monarch,
D'un padre traditore of a traitorous father fills me with horror,
Qua la colpa m'agghiaccia: the guilt chills me
E lo sposo innocente ho sempre in faccia. And the innocent husband I have always before my eyes.
Oh immagini funeste! O fatal images!
Oh memorie! Oh martire! O memories! O torture!
Ed io parlo, infelice, ed io respiro? And I, unhappy one, speak, and breathe?
Ah! non son'io che parlo, Ah no! It is not I who speaks,
È il barbaro dolore It is the cruel pain
Che mi divide il core, That rends my heart,
Che delirar mi fa. That makes me delirious.
Non cura il ciel tiranno Heaven does not heed the anguish
L'affanno, in cui mi vedo: Which I see in myself:
Un fulmine gli chiedo, I ask heaven for death,
E un fulmine non ha. but it does not strike me with lightning.

The tenor Valentin Adamberger performed K369 at Mozart’s Burgtheater concert on 23 March 1783.