Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): O qui caeli terraeque serenitas RV631

Capranica Theatre - captionedVivaldi was in Rome for the carnival seasons of 1723 and 1724. While he was there he composed three operas for performance at the Capranica theatre –  Ercole su’l Termodonte, Il Tigrane and Giustino. From the manuscript’s paper we know that O qui caeli terraeque serenitas (RV631) must have been composed during one or other of Vivaldi’s carnival Roman sojourns and  based on this and his compositional activities it seems likely that he had in mind one or other of the leading ladies at the Capranica as the singer for this motet. I wish I knew who she was and a bit more about her because based on the evidence of this motet Vivaldi considered her to be a very good singer indeed.

It’s another motet ‘per ogni tempo’  (‘for all seasons’) whose text is a prayer that the believer be delivered from earthly pleasures and that she may instead long for heavenly ones. Its central key is E flat major and Vivaldi uses ‘sighing appoggiaturas in the first aria to depict the tempations of the world. The second aria uses what’s called a lamento bass  which is a descent by chromatic steps from tonic to dominant to depict the transitory nature of these mundane pleasures before a final exuberant Alleluia allows the singer to show us why she’s a prima donna. Enjoy :-).


Text & Translation: O qui caeli terraeque serenitas RV631

LatinEnglish Translation

Movement 1: O qui caeli terraeque serenitas

O qui coeli terraeque serenitas
et fons lucis et arbiter es.
Unde regis aeterna tua sidera
mitis considera
nostra vota, clamores et spes.

You are the tranquillity of heaven and of earth, both the source of light and the judge.
Whence come your eternal stars of the kingdom, look kindly upon
our prayers, cries and hopes.

Movement 2: Fac ut sordescat tellus

Fac ut sordescat tellus
dum respicimus coelum;
fac ut bona superna
constanter diligamus
et sperantes aeterna
quidquid caducam est odio habeamus.

Make it that the earth seem unclean
when we look to heaven;
make it that we might constantly
cherish heavenly riches
and that, hoping for things eternal,
we might regard with hatred whatever is transitory.

Movement 3: Rosa quae moritur

Rosa quae moritur,
unda quae labitur,
mundi delicias
docent fugaces.
Vix fronte amabili
mulcent cum labili
pede praetervolant
larvae fallaces.

The rose which dies away,
the water which flows away,
such transient things
characterize the world’s delights.
Such deceitful ghosts
scarcely charm with their
pleasant appearance
before flying past, fleet of foot.

Movement 4: Alleluia

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