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This is the closing duet from L’Incoronazione di Poppea.  Depending on how the how the rest of the choral season goes, I may be singing this piece for my summer recital.  Pur Ti Miro, is a beautiful duet.  A little background on the opera from which it came from, and of course the libretto.


“Drusilla muses on the life of happiness before her, when Arnalta arrives with a lictor. Arnalta accuses Drusilla of being Poppea’s assailant, and she is arrested. As Nerone enters, Arnalta denounces Drusilla, who protests her innocence. Threatened with torture unless she names her accomplices, Drusilla decides to protect Ottone by confessing her own guilt. Nerone commands her to suffer a painful death, at which point Ottone rushes in and reveals the truth: that he had acted alone, at the command of the Empress Ottavia, and that Drusilla was innocent of complicity. Nerone is impressed by Drusilla’s fortitude, and in an act of clemency spares Ottone’s life, ordering him banished. Drusilla chooses exile with him. Nerone now feels entitled to act against Ottavia and she is exiled, too. This leaves the way open for him to marry Poppea, who is overjoyed: “No delay, no obstacle can come between us now.”[n 10]

Ottavia bids a quiet farewell to Rome, while in the throne room of the palace the coronation ceremony for Poppea is prepared. The Consuls and Tribunes enter, and after a brief eulogy place the crown on Poppea’s head. Watching over the proceedings is the god of Love with his mother, Venere and a divine chorus. Nerone and Poppea sing a rapturous love duet (“I gaze at you, I possess you”[n 11]) as the opera ends.”

Pur ti miro, pur ti godo, I gaze at you, possess you,
pur ti stringo, pur t’annodo. press you to me, clasp you.
Piú non peno, piú non moro,
No more pain, no deathly grief,
o mia vita, o mio tesoro. oh my life, my treasure.
Io son tua, I am yours,
Tuo son io, Yours am I,
Speme mia, dillo, di. My dearest, say you love me too.
Tu sei pur l’idol mio. You are the idol of my heart.
Sì, mio ben, sì, mio cor, mia vita, sì
Oh yes, my love, my heart, my life, oh yes.


“L’incoronazione di Poppea is frequently described as a story in which virtue is punished and greed rewarded, running counter to the normal conventions of literary morality. The musicologist Tim Carter calls the opera’s characters and their actions “famously problematic”, and its messages “at best ambiguous and at worst perverted”, while Rosand refers to an “extraordinary glorification of lust and ambition”.The critic Edward B. Savage asserts that despite the lack of a moral compass in virtually all the main characters, Busenello’s plot is itself essentially moral, and that “this morality is sustained by the phenomenon of dramatic irony”. From their knowledge of Roman history, audiences in Venice would have recognised that the apparent triumph of love over virtue, celebrated by Nerone and Poppea in the closing duet, was in reality hollow, and that not long after this event Nerone kicked the pregnant Poppea to death. They would have known, too, that Nerone himself committed suicide a few years later, and that others—Ottavia, Lucano, Ottone—also met untimely deaths.

Well, two not very nice people sing a beautiful duet about love and then have untimely deaths.  So, definitely operatic material then.

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