Callas and Pasolini I

The caption reads: “Maria Callas and Pier Paolo Pasolini, departing for Paris en route to Mar del Plata, where they will present the film Medea. Callas and Pasolini avoided answering questions about their wedding, which some sources describe as imminent.”

(Pasolini, for those unfamiliar with the man and his work, was gay.)

Pasolini wrote several poems for and about Maria Callas. They are dense and gnarly. Following is my (wretched) translation of the closing lines of “Timor di me?” from the collection Trasumanar ed organizzar.

(“Timor di me?”—“Fear for me?”—are words from Leonora’s Act IV scena in Verdi’s Il trovatore.)
You give, you scatter gifts, you need to give,
But your gift was given by Him, like all;
And it is a Nothing, the gift of No one;
I feign receiving;
I thank you, sincerely grateful;
But the weak, fleeting smile
Is born not of shyness;
It is the dismay, more terrible, far more terrible,
Of having a separate body, in the realms of being—
If it is a sin,
If it’s not simply an accident; but in place of the Other
For me there is a void in the cosmos,
A void in the cosmos,
And from there, you sing.
At YouTube, you can watch a video of Callas performing Leonora’s recitative and aria from Act IV of Il trovatore (1958 Paris concert), including the bit beginning “Timor di me?”

She is not in top form, but she is surpassingly beautiful.

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