What are the lyrics to the aria ‘Ah! Perfido’?

Here are the lyrics to Beethoven's concert aria, 'Ah! Perfido', which was first performed in 1796

Ah! Perfido lyrics

Who wrote and composed the concert aria ‘Ah! Perfido’?

It is unknown who wrote the aria’s lyrics but the music was composed by Beethoven when he was around 26 years old. It was first performed in 1796 at the Theater am Ranstädter Tor in Leipzig by Josepha Duschek.

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Beethoven wrote a great number of Italian songs while studying composition with Antonio Salieri, often as exercises. Very few of his early works have survived, but those he composed or revisited in later life are far better preserved

What are the English lyrics to ‘Ah! Perfido’?

Ah! Faithless one, perjured,
barbarous betrayer, do you leave?
And are these your last farewells?
Who ever suffered such cruel tyranny?
Go, wicked man! Go, run from me,
The wrath of the Gods you shall not escape!
If there is justice in Heaven, if there is mercy,
They will join together to punish you!
Pursuing shade, present wherever you go,
I shall see my vengeance;
I already enjoy it in my mind;
I see already lightning flashing about you.
Ah no, ah no, stop, Gods of vengeance!
Spare that heart, strike mine!
Though he has changed, I am what I was,
Through him I lived, I would die for him!

For pity, do not bid me farewell,
What shall I do without you?
You know, fair beloved,
I shall die troubled.

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Ah, cruel one, you would that I die!
Have you no pity for me?
Why do you treat one who adores you
With such barbarous reward?
Tell me if in such trouble
Am I not worthy of pity?

What are the original Italian lyrics to ‘Ah! Perfido’?

Ah! perfido, spergiuro,
barbaro traditor, tu parti?
e son questi gl’ultimi tuoi congedi?
ove s’intese tirannia più crudel?
Va, scelerato! va, pur fuggi da me,
l’ira de’ Numi non fuggirai!
Se v’è giustizia in Ciel, se v’è pietà,
congiureranno a gara tutti a punirti!
Ombra seguace! presente, ovunque vai,
vedrò le mie vendette;
io già le godo immaginando;
i fulmini ti veggo già balenar d’intorno.
Ah no! ah no! fermate, vindici Dei!
risparmiate quel cor, ferite il mio!
s’ei non è più qual era son’io qual fui,
per lui vivea, voglio morir per lui!

Per pietà, non dirmi addio,
di te priva che farò?
tu lo sai, bell’idol mio!
io d’affanno morirò.

Ah crudel! tu vuoi ch’io mora!
tu non hai pietà di me?
perchè rendi a chi t’adora
così barbara mercè?
Dite voi, se in tanto affanno
non son degna di pietà?

Recommended recording: Lise Davidsen; London Philharmonic Orchestra; Mark Elder

Find out more about Beethoven and his works