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Presenting music and discussing Tito's interpretation of Verdi and his own music with Opera singer Tito Gobbi

BROADCAST: Nov. 10, 1971 | DURATION: 00:38:50


Studs Terkel interviews Tito Gobbi on his interpretation of Verdi. He also gets an interpretation of Gobbi's own music.


Tap within the transcript to jump to that part of the audio.


Studs Terkel Figaro, of course, Figaro surviving, Figaro whom they serve, but never bends. And Tito Gobbi, of course, one of the most celebrated of Figaros, and a most witty and ebullient, and delighted to have Tito Gobbi as our guest once more. A great Verdi scholar, but more than that, operatic scholar and director. You are directing "Barber of Seville," that opens the Lyric this coming Friday, Mr. Gobbi--

Tito Gobbi Yes, yes sir. That would be a kind of a revival because the first time I did it here it was two years ago. I already produced the "Barber" at the Lyric, but the cast is rather different this time.

Studs Terkel Yeah. I'm thinking about yourself. Your knowledge of "Barber" or Rossini, we'll come to Verdi in a moment. But you as Figaro, your interpretation of him. And you've been two Figaros. You're also Mozart's Figaro, too, who [unintelligible]--

Tito Gobbi Yes, I did also in Mozart, I did a couple times, not very much. Because in "Figaro," in Mozart's, "Figaro," I prefer the role of the the Count.

Studs Terkel The Count, I don't know the--

Tito Gobbi I think it is more interesting for me--

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Tito Gobbi As maybe because I have done so many time Figaro, "Barber of Seville," and I want to do something different in this field.

Studs Terkel Yeah. Of course, you do such a variety. I'm thinking about your direction too -- you, as an actor. Figaro himself in in the "Barber". He's far more than a barber. He's, he's the opera [unintelligible]--

Tito Gobbi Oh, he's the factotum, as he said. He is the factotum. He's a, is an expression of joy, of freedom, has no problem, and still no no complex. Like a bird, free in the morning. He starts singing and shouting in the morning, going to his barbershop and waking up everybody, and is ready to do everything to bring the letter of Rosina to the Count, arrange a serenade for [her?] to sing for the Count, to arrange every kind of thing.

Studs Terkel [laughter] There's always been a Fig--

Tito Gobbi [unintelligible] he's amusing.

Studs Terkel Yeah. There always has been a Figaro in all history, isn't there? The man who gets along no matter what, survives -- the arranger.

Tito Gobbi There are, there are some, I think, there are some, yes. At least for until they are young. They can play the part of Figaros in the prime of life. But they -- I think the only thing against Figaro would be age.

Studs Terkel Age. Because he's the element of youth there--

Tito Gobbi Yes.

Studs Terkel And the aspect -- of course, you do -- I'm thinking about Tito Gobbi and the roles you've played. You're celebrated, of course, for your Scarpia in "Tosca" that you've directed, and the wide variety of the Verdi roles of course, but whe- where do we begin? You've just done just about every powerful baritone role in opera almost, it seems, you know, outside of Wagnerian.

Tito Gobbi Well, I have sung so many, so many different role. And I was always fascinated and attracted, mostly, by the role in which it was possible for me to be an interpreter, an actor, as well as a singer. So, practically I'm always been looking for the -- to build up a character- characterization, to build a strong interpretation on stage. And so [while? why?] I have neglected somewhat a very good role, but they didn't give me the possibility of what I was looking to.

Studs Terkel It isn't simply singing an aria. It's the question of you the character.

Tito Gobbi Yes, the aria must be the consequence of the happening, of what happened on stage, of the story. The first, and the most important, thing is the story because also the the composer of the music, he was attracted by the story first then he put the music on.

Studs Terkel I'm thinking, for example, you as Enrico in "Lucia," which you sang in one of the incredible duets in all contemporary operatic history, Callas and Gobbi. She as Lucia and you as her brother, hard-pressed. Perhaps you set the scene. Would you recreate this moment, you and Callas, and the duet brother and sister?

Tito Gobbi We recreated this moment just a few days ago with Maria. I was in New York, and I went to a lesson to the Juilliard School, and then we had dinner together, we three, my wife, Maria and myself. And it was a most wonderful and lovely dinner because we had been talking about our marvelous time together. When we recall so many wonderful, best-seller records and and many performances. And we have been talking a lot about "Lucia di Lammermoor," and that was the first record I did with Maria. And we did this in Florence with Maestro Seraphim, and I think it is certainly one of the most beautiful example of recititivo, of singing together, the balance in a duetto is really extraordinary.

Studs Terkel I'm thinking about something else, you and Callas, two magnificent actors, as well as singers, too, [is?] the drama. Suppose you set the scene? The brother who needs the money [is kind of?] forcing his sister to marry someone she doesn't -- suppose you set the scene. You, Henry, Enrico and she Lucy, Lucia, set the scene for the duet we're about to hear.

Tito Gobbi What do you mean really, for set the scene? To do to to--

Studs Terkel What is happening here.

Tito Gobbi To explain--

Studs Terkel Yes.

Tito Gobbi The situation, the feeling of it. It is so clearly expressed in the duetto that I hope we can listen.

Studs Terkel Alright.

Tito Gobbi Now, it's so wonderfully expressed, because she made wonderful interpretation, of this poor young girl who is obliged to to obey to her brother to save the financial position of the family, while she is completely loving another man. The tenor, naturally.

Studs Terkel The tenor, naturally [laughter].

Tito Gobbi So it's full of pain of suffering, and she can't say no to her brother.

Studs Terkel But I'm thinking of you as you do Enrico.

Tito Gobbi And my and my Enrico also -- I am strong enough, and I am decide to reach the point that I want. But without, without being very rude, too rude as normally they do, because I know exactly she can't escape from my [volante? mispronunciation of volatility?] and she will accept it, accept the situation. So I don't need to to to be more angry and furious and rude against that.

Studs Terkel You don't -- so it's more subtle than, you do -- the fact is you do love your sister.

Tito Gobbi Yes.

Studs Terkel You do love your sister.

Tito Gobbi Yes. But I can do not a thing, nothing else, if I want to save the reputation, the name of the family.

Studs Terkel The duet Gobbi/Callas, Callas/Gobbi, "Lucia" [pause in recording]. Callas and Gobbi in a magnificent duet. One of the most exciting duets in contemporary operatic history -- these two actors, singers. At that moment, I should like to add, the fuse blew during this particular taping, Mr. Gobbi. The power of you and Callas is overwhelming [laughter].

Tito Gobbi Yes, we blew the fuse. [laughter]

Studs Terkel I'm thinking even in listening to you and to Callas, you were saying you're not the heavy-handed villain twisting your sister's arm. You, even here, use the subtleties.

Tito Gobbi And no, then with Donizetti you don't you don't have to be forcing the sound or the voice to get too dramatic. It's the music itself and the libretto is explaining everything.

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Tito Gobbi And then we are people of a certain class, on the Lammermoor castle, and--

Studs Terkel The aristocrat.

Tito Gobbi We don't need to play -- I don't need to play a villain. He's not a villain. He's obliged to [unintelligible], he is not a good brother, he is a very ambitious man. But--

Studs Terkel There--

Tito Gobbi He tried to explain to his sister also, if you don't help me, that's what happens, and so and so. So, you have to help me.

Studs Terkel There again, your interpretation of a role that's so often taken for granted, the role of Enrico in "Lucia". So, you spoke of an ambitious man, a man who loves his sister at the same time he thinks of class and status and saving his face and all this is part of the characterization.

Tito Gobbi Yes, and also and also I must say that in all my realization, in all my personage and the characterization I have done, and on stage, I've been putting a little bit a drop of humanity. So, for me not all not all the very strong villain characters and rude, and terrible, and evil character are just cruel. They they must have a sense of humanity, and I think I've been put in a little drop of humanity and good in all the characters, the characterization I did, but not in Iago, because naturally Iago is no susceptible--

Tito Gobbi Yeah.

Tito Gobbi Of any kind of good or nice [unintelligible]--

Studs Terkel We'll come to Iago in a moment. In fact, we come now to Verdi. And Mr. Gobbi, Tito Gobbi is one of the prime interpreters and scholars of Verdi. I recall when you did "Simon Boccanegra" you said you went to the archives to look up--

Tito Gobbi Yes.

Studs Terkel The story of the real Simon the Doge.

Tito Gobbi Oh yes. We had been looking all over the world for years to find something about the story, the historical side of this wonderful characterization character. And as you know "Simon Boccanegra" in the opera is only one, and in reality it was two brothers, one became the Doge of Genoa, the first doge of Genoa, the other one was a [comolo?], what you call admiral of the float of the Navy and--

Studs Terkel But you know I'm thinking also of something you said last time, the theme. Throughout Verdi the theme of liberation, freedom, and so--

Tito Gobbi Yes.

Studs Terkel To even now as we follow--

Tito Gobbi And that also is important, yes, because in all this time, if you think of the truce, in 1339, and '60, in Italy he's the first man who will speak about unity of the Italy. You wonder, only they say Adria e Liguria, that means Venezia and Genoa belong to the same country, and that he pick it up from a letter he received from Petrarch, Francesco Petrarch who was going to Provenza in south of France to meet Laura and so, and he wrote this wonderful letter, which is put on music by by Verdi. And that's, I think, that was an idea of Verdi mostly.

Studs Terkel I'm thinking of your "Nabucco," your Nebuchadnezzar, Verdi's early opera, this had all sorts of implications--

Tito Gobbi [one of the first he did?]

Studs Terkel Did it not, at the time? Even though he spoke of the Hebrew people it was the Italians, was it not, to whom he was speaking -- "Nabucco," itself.

Tito Gobbi "Nabucco."

Studs Terkel Created a -- Did it create quite a stir when it first was performed? "Nabucco"?

Tito Gobbi I think "Nabucco" was the really the first success Verdi had because what he did he had before was not successful at all. And then he is the first composition he wrote after a terrible period of his life when he lost the family, wives and children. But naturally in Verdi, you know, this doesn't matter if they are Hebrew people if they are, what they are. When the chorus sings it's always the Italian people who sings--

Studs Terkel Yeah, yeah. So it [unintelligible]--

Tito Gobbi Hoping for liberty and they're looking for the liberation of the German and Austrian oppression, and so and so.

Studs Terkel This is the point, isn't it? That always he wrote at a certain moment in the history--

Tito Gobbi Yes, yes.

Studs Terkel Of the Italian people too, didn't he?

Tito Gobbi Yes, that's why they were--

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Tito Gobbi They were used to write in the war in the [city?] "Viva Verdi" and the police and, the Austrian police, saw the "Viva Verdi, Viva Giuseppe Verdi," but they put a point mark every letter, which means "Viva Vittorio Emanuele Re Di Italia" Verdi.

Studs Terkel Of course. They--

Tito Gobbi And they were looking for the King Vittorio Emanuele to be [crowned?] king of Italy for the unity of Italy.

Studs Terkel For the independence of Italy. So this was the code signal, "Viva Verdi." So, his very name became a code for freedom.

Tito Gobbi Yes.

Studs Terkel And so we come to the role of Nabucco, here [unintelligible].

Tito Gobbi Yes.

Studs Terkel Here is -- you are Nebuchadnezzar and this aria, "Prigioniero io sono."

Tito Gobbi "Prigioniero io sono", when when he discover that he is prisoner and he hear the voice and the crying of his daughter who was just taken to the [Suprezio?], and he and he ask forgiveness to the God of Judah: "Please forgive me, God, for what I have done and I promise I will build the most beautiful temple." And so and so.

Studs Terkel Here then is the tyrant asking forgiveness. Gobbi as Nabucco [pause in recording]. "Porta fatal, porta fatal," Oh, fatal door, thou shalt open, forgiveness he asks.

Tito Gobbi Yeah. ["oh t'aprirai"] because he realized that he received the grace from God.

Studs Terkel This is early Verdi, this is early Verdi, and then we come to, I think of your Verdi roles, the different interpretations, we come to the lyrical Verdi and "Traviata" now. Now here's another tragic figure, not unlike Enrico yet different in Germont, the father of Alfredo.

Tito Gobbi Yes, is a wonderful, interest. My role, the baritone role, if it sounds a little bit old-fashioned today, the father visiting the young girl to save his son. If you know exactly the meaning of the word and if you look deeply in the music, if you hear carefully the music, is a superb piece.

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Tito Gobbi The duetto of "La Traviata" and the father [unintelligible] and Violetta Valery and the Papa Germont is a wonderful piece.

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Tito Gobbi And the logical consequence of this is that the aria, "Di Provenza."

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Tito Gobbi In which the father tried to to convince his son and to touch him with remembering the beauty of the country, that he is neglecting the family. And so and so.

Studs Terkel It's interesting, isn't it -- I'm thinking about Enrico, Lucia's brother. And your Germont, the father of Alfredo, both similar and yet you do them entirely differently. Here too, the honor of the family involved--

Tito Gobbi Yes.

Studs Terkel In one case money--

Tito Gobbi Yes.

Studs Terkel In the other case he'd want to buy off Violetta.

Tito Gobbi Yes, that's true. So it's the honor of the family involved. But in "Traviata," Papa Germont at the end he understand what is the really--

Studs Terkel Yeah, of course.

Tito Gobbi Affection, the love this poor wo- woman has for his son, and she now she become a lady for him, and is close to her until the last minute of her life--

Studs Terkel I'm thinking of Tito Gobbi in several roles he's always asking for forgiveness. He's Nabucco asking for forgiveness and now as Germont asking Violetta for forgiveness--

Tito Gobbi For forgiveness, yes.

Studs Terkel But the beauty, of course, "Di Provenza il mar," is one of the most beautiful of all baritone

Tito Gobbi

Studs Terkel arias. Oh, yes. Here the love of father for a son really, isn't it?

Tito Gobbi You know what? There is no musical approach in this. There's no similarity in them from a musical point of view. But when I sing, "Di Provenza il mar il suol", I remember in "Simon Boccanegra," when Verdi put the music on "Il mar, il mar" [singing], so this great desire of an open space, of the beauty of the country, the natural, that every time he had the chance to give a result of this, he gave it.

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Tito Gobbi And also "Di Provenza il mar il suol chi dal cor ti cancello? Chi dal cor ti cancello, di provenza il mar il suol." So--

Studs Terkel Yeah, you see this connecting. It's interesting--

Tito Gobbi Breathing.

Studs Terkel You, Tito Gobbi, a Verdi scholar, you see this connecting link, you saw this connecting here even opera seemingly disconnected. The connecting like a freedom of open air, of the country with all this, isn't it?

Tito Gobbi The great soul of this man.

Studs Terkel Here then, "Di Provenza il mar", a father's love for a son or reminding him of the beauty of the countryside and of his boyhood [pause in recording]. After that lovely aria how how could the boy say no to his father? [laughter] I was watching you, Tito Gobbi, your face as you were listening, and Mrs. Gobbi, who is seated here, and how moved you were. It's as though you were hearing it again for the first time, isn't it?

Tito Gobbi Oh yes, that is, this belonged to the great arias of Verdi that you never be tired to listen, and never be tired to study, because naturally I found back now some very beautiful things that I didn't. But I would like to start again to add something new little thing that I've been thinking now, because is well, what we call Il pozzo di San Patrizio, it's a well that never finish -- will never be dry, to give you beautiful water and precious stone is. There's no end in the music of Verdi.

Studs Terkel It's like the cup of mercury, you know the old Greek legend and the cup of milk was never without end--

Studs Terkel Yes, yes.

Studs Terkel And so Verdi's richness you always find new nuances, don't you?

Tito Gobbi Find always new, and you will never be tired in listening.

Studs Terkel As Verdi, early Verdi, middle Verdi, and of course there's the great period of his life, isn't it, when he was old. He got richer and stronger and now the two great examples supposed to be "Otello" and "Falstaff."

Tito Gobbi Yes, the Falstaff that he wrote when he was over 80.

Studs Terkel Eighty! How old was he when he wrote "Otello?"

Tito Gobbi I think Otello was--

Mrs. Gobbi Seventy-five?

Tito Gobbi Seven ... 75, 6, I'm not sure.

Studs Terkel Seventy-five, 76, but he wrote but he wrote Falstaff--

Tito Gobbi Yes, I'm not sure but, a few a few years before because he didn't work for a little while.

Studs Terkel So he tackled two of Shakespeare's great charac- great plays. Two of Shakespeare's in the late years--

Tito Gobbi He did also "Macbeth" at the beginning which is a wonderful opera. And I think very respectable to Shakespeare, too.

Studs Terkel "Otello." What can we say about Iago? Now we come to--

Tito Gobbi We can say a lot of things but we need a little more time.

Studs Terkel No, you go ahead.

Tito Gobbi You you will never finish talking about Iago, or Falstaff, or, this kind of--

Studs Terkel But in Iago.

Tito Gobbi In Iago, Iago is as I told you before, that's the only character in which I was not able to find a drop of humanity, of good. He is a creature in which everything is bad, is evil, is dangerous, is devil, you say, devilish.

Studs Terkel Devil. Yeah, but--

Tito Gobbi And without any reason. And I am against, to all these people as a group -- good knowledge of opera, and study opera, and performs opera, and musicologists, critics, and so forth -- who are trying to find a reason for the hate of Iago against humanity. But this will be the most wrong thing to do, because if you find a reason of their behavior, for the behavior of Iago, you minimize the creature, the character. He is just like this because he's Iago. No reason why he does this. He do this and do that because he is Iago, because there is no reason.

Studs Terkel Evil incarnate.

Tito Gobbi If you imagine that Iago is doing what he is doing against Otello only, oh, maybe because we think and we suppose that he had, Otello had an affair with Iago's wife.

Studs Terkel Emilia.

Tito Gobbi Then you minimize the man you make him a stupid jealous husband. And we all know that when [unintelligible] show his jealousy, right or wrong, he becomes [a small?] man.

Studs Terkel What about ambition? The fact that's he's frustrated?

Tito Gobbi Ambition of what?

Studs Terkel I don't know.

Tito Gobbi He doesn't want to be. He put his feet all over the linen, dining. Otello, "Ecco leone" [sic], and he laugh. So, here is the power, he is the commander, he is the boss, under my feet. [Italian] like "Rigoletto", is that the story because I like to [study? story?] "Rigoletto" is another reason. But this man, the representative of the power, of all the beauty, of the love is now under his feet. But he's not climbing the throne, he doesn't want to to be elected.

Studs Terkel He's not Macbeth, he's not like Macbeth.

Tito Gobbi No, no. No. Because when at the end Otello say "ah, disculpati." What means disculpati in English? I I I don't know. Disculpati,

Studs Terkel what means disculpati? Disculpati?

Tito Gobbi Confess yourself.

Studs Terkel Oh, culpa culpa, mea culpa, confession.

Tito Gobbi Tell me that you are not guilty. Practically, he says "No." No. He doesn't want to and he leave.

Studs Terkel Even there, that's an interesting approach you have, Mr. Gobbi, to find a reason would be to minimize this monumental evil.

Tito Gobbi Minimize, yes.

Studs Terkel And therefore to create the power or the strength, that's it. Because he's Iago.

Tito Gobbi But also, also in Shakespeare, not only in Verdi and Boito, it's also in Shakespeare. It doesn't matter if in Shakespeare they kill, they come back with the man, he's dying there, and sort of -- But every justification, trying to to make humanize Iago is just minimizing, reducing the grandeur of the character.

Studs Terkel The grandeur of his evil, that's that's it, yeah, the grandeur of his evil.

Tito Gobbi Yes.

Studs Terkel So we have Gobbi as Iago. I suppose Verdi in the middle 70s doing this, too, was taken with the overwhelming theme. Verdi always sought monumental themes, didn't he?

Tito Gobbi Yes, yes, yes. In their credo that we will [near?] now, hear now listen, is a [Italian] I believe in a god so strong who build me in his on his image and that I had that taste and I -- what you say [unintelligible] swear--

Mrs. Gobbi I swear.

Tito Gobbi So there is no reason he's like this.

Studs Terkel Here is the credo then, that's the famous the famous thing, the credo. This is Verdi's credo, he's really offering his philosophy of evil in a way. What he does not believe, but he does believe in. And Gobbi, Iago [pause in recording]. Tito Gobbi, listening to your Iago it suddenly occurred the lyrics that you were singing, Iago is evil because he believes all man is evil.

Tito Gobbi Yeah.

Studs Terkel "I believe using a cruel God has created me in his image, and whom I hate, I name. From some vile germ or atom base am I born, I'm evil because I am a man. And I feel the primeval slime." He believes in original sin.

Tito Gobbi Yeah. In a certain way, yes. And he believes that every man is evil, every man is bad, just because of what I believe in. I believe I think all the children are good.

Studs Terkel Now you're looking for -- now here are you, this is Tito Gobbi, an interpreter. Tito Gobbi, off the operatic stage away from his role believes in humanity, in the possibilities, whereas, the role you play, Iago, is not just evil per se, because he thinks all man is evil.

Tito Gobbi Yep.

Studs Terkel That's interesting, yeah.

Tito Gobbi Yes.

Studs Terkel He says from the germ of the cradle to the worm of the grave. This is what he thinks of all. "Heaven as an old wives' tale."

Tito Gobbi And "[Italian]" that last phrase is and the is a -- what is the last--

Studs Terkel "Heaven is an old wives' tale." It's a fake. This is so -- here here then is Iago. So we come, perhaps, to one of the most comic-tragic figures, complex figures in "Falstaff," don't we?

Tito Gobbi Yes, which is not a comic figure really--

Studs Terkel No.

Tito Gobbi He's a, he's a is a tragic figure who drop himself in a comic situations, because I believe that Falstaff is a is a man that doesn't matter what he does, he does with conviction. With convinced that he does something good and very respectable or not, but very important for him. He's a man who believe in himself. He's a man who it doesn't matter if they throw him in the water or they make a lot of mockeries of him. He really really stand up and he like a boomerang again.

Studs Terkel He comes back.

Tito Gobbi He comes back. Has a strong strong--

Studs Terkel Survives!

Tito Gobbi Of recuperation, of survival. And he is not a comic. The situation in which some time he dropped himself become comic--

Studs Terkel So in a way a tragic--

Tito Gobbi But is pathetic also.

Studs Terkel Also a tragic clown. You know in the real sense.

Tito Gobbi Yes. Yes. I think he is a man that you must love him, you must like him, and then you also cry for him and suffer for him. Especially in the last scene, the first scene of the third act, before last one, before the forest, when he come out from the water of the Thames where they throw him in a basket, and he is furious. And he go back to the tavern to the and he asked the innkeeper, "Ehi, taverniere, un bicchier di vin caldo," for the first time he ask a glass of hot wine and this caldo is marked by Verdi and give the chance to the innkeeper to look him surprised, "Caldo?" He wants some -- poor fellow, really, he must be -- something must be wrong with him. So he run inside he come back with a with a hot drink for him, with a certain care and [primula?] affection. So the the humanity come down again and this man who's furious at Falstaff, so then drinking you recuperated all this joy all living of life. And they laugh and they say "one day I will disappear from the world. Then the only good expression of a man will disappear with me." So, [unintelligible] figure, character.

Studs Terkel Yeah, so he has all the he has all the frailties of a human being. Earlier, in the earlier scene 'l'honore', what is honor--

Tito Gobbi "La vera [Italian] il mundo."

Studs Terkel Better to be a live coward than a dead lion in a way, you know. But here he is. So, this scene, perhaps you know what would be great, before I say goodbye to Mr. Gobbi -- he's been so gracious with his time, and Mrs. Gobbi seated here too. [Unintelligible] you'll be seeing his "Barber of Seville" that directed by him. He'd been Figaro so celebrated for so many years. His -- before say we say goodbye with Falstaff. This comic yet heroic figure and tragic figure.

Tito Gobbi Yes.

Studs Terkel He's all man in a sense. Suppose you read, could you mind reading the lyrics in Italian here, and I'll read the English following. It's so beautiful it's so powerful.

Tito Gobbi OK, I do the Italian, you do the English, yes?

Studs Terkel Beautiful, beautiful.

Tito Gobbi This is the beginning of the third act, the first scene: He sings and he asked the innkeeper, "Ehi, taverniere", and then while he wait for his drink, he think about the sadness of the world and the life. "Mondo ladro. Mondo rubaldo. Reo mondo! Taverniere, un bicchier di vin caldo. Io, dunque, avro vissuto tant'anni, audace e destro cavaliere, per essere portato in un canestro e gittato al canale co' pannilini biechi, come si fa coi gatti e i catellini ciechi. Che se non galleggiava per me quest'epa tronfia, certo affogavo. (I was drowned.) Brutta morte. L'acqua mi gonfia. Mondo reo. Non c'e piu virtu. Tutto declina." And here comes the famous phrase that Verdi wrote to himself practically: "Va, vecchio John, va, va per la tua via; cammina finche tu muoia. Allor scomparira la vera virilita del mondo." So, go, go, vecchio John, now you read the English.

Studs Terkel Oh, what have I done? How can I follow Tito Gobbi? What have I done? Well, here the interpretation that Mr. Gobbi read so beautifully: "Oh innkeeper! Thieving world, rascal world, evil world. Host! A glass of mulled wine. I, then having lived so long was a brave and skillful knight end up carried in a clothes basket, tossed in the river with a stinking wash like a kitten or a still blind pup. Without this buoyant paunch I truly have drowned. A nasty death. Water swells me, evil world. There is no honor left. All goes to pot. Go, Jack, go thy ways. Travel until art dead. Then true manliness will be gone from the world. What a black day. Heaven help me, I'm getting fat. I'm getting gray." That's Verdi himself, isn't he? Getting aged too, isn't it. Let's--

Tito Gobbi Va, vecchio John, mostly.

Studs Terkel Yeah. "Let's mix a bit of wine with the water of the Thames," and he's drinking the wine, as he unbuttons his jacket and lies back and sips the wine. Now his spirit's brighten, "Ah, good! To loosen one's vest in the sun and drink sweet wine, oh sweet thing. Good wine chases away the gloomy thoughts of sorrow, lights up the eye and one's thoughts; from the lips it rises to the brain wakening the fairy smith of trills, a black cricket who sings in the reeling brain, waking to trills every fiber of the heart. The joyous air quivers to the trill. A thrilling madness drunkens the happy globe," he says, "The trill quivers through the entire world." He says how good the wine is at the end he comes back, survival, isn't it?

Tito Gobbi This is one of the famous joke by Boito. He was used to write this kind of words that sound alike and it means different thing. In Italian is a, is a really a precious thing. When he say, "Dello sconforto, accende l'occhio e il pensier, dal labbro sale al cervel e quivi risveglia il picciol fabbro dei trilli; un negro grillo che vibra entro l'uom brillo. Trilla ogni fibra in cor, l'allegro etere al trillo guizza e il gicondo globo squilibra."

Studs Terkel So he's having fun--

Tito Gobbi [rolls r's] -- there's a lot of "r"

Studs Terkel there-- Fun with words of similar sound and different meanings.

Tito Gobbi Yes, yes. It's just like if the water start boiling again and [unintelligible].

Studs Terkel And so perhaps we say goodbye to Tito Gobbi now as we hear his Falstaff. This aria that is really man, man in every dimension. Tragic, pathetic yet heroic in survival. Mr. Gobbi, Tito Gobbi, Mrs. Gobbi, thank you very much. What's the word in Italian for the best of luck? I know 'grazie, mille grazie', for 'thank you very much.'

Tito Gobbi We used to say, 'in bocca al lupo', which means 'in the mouth of the wolf.'

Studs Terkel In the mouth of the wolf. In bocco--

Tito Gobbi In bocca--

Studs Terkel In bocca--

Tito Gobbi Al lupo.

Studs Terkel Al lupo.

Tito Gobbi Thank you.

Studs Terkel Thank you very much. Mille grazie.