Beethoven: "Ah! Perfido" / "Per pietà, non dirmi addio" Op. 65
Scene and Aria - Urtext based on the new Complete Edition - ed. by Ernst Hertrich
The only concert aria by Beethoven published during his lifetime has enjoyed unflagging popularity among sopranos ever since its publication. While the genre of the piece recalls a dramatic scene from the Italian opera seria, it does raise some fundamental questions: the "Ah, perfido!" text of the recitative was written by Pietro Metastasio, but not the following aria text "Per pietà non dirmi addio" whose author has yet to be identified. It is just as unclear why it took the work, which was written and premiered in 1796, eight years to be published. Beethoven himself added another twist in this story when, for a performance held in 1808, he altered the music text and thus made it more difficult for later editors to lay down the definitive, authorized version. In this respect, the first practical Urtext edition of the work (based on the new Beethoven Complete Edition) should be warmly welcomed by all performing artists.