Gasparo Pacchierotti        

You know of Farinelli, who would sing

Each night the same song to the King of Spain

Philip V, who once was prince in France,

To help assuage the doom of being king.

But Paccierotti - do you know of him?

His voice, they say, so pure that it might seem

Even to touch the true angelic tone,

His voice, they say, at times became supreme,

Out-soaring, as it were, the Seraphim.

They tell this story to confirm that claim.

At Rome one summer he was singing in

The first performance of an opera, when

He reached the aria which he sang alone,

No other on that candle-lighted stage.

Each note proceeded, and they say the swan,

When dying, could not match his wafted end.

What followed was a silence. He began

To sing the next words, but no music came

From flute or cello or the lone violin.

He stopped, and in a whisper dense with rage

He hissed across the candles: ‘In God’s name,

Why don't you play?’ For answer, silence. Then

The young composer looked up from the page

Of writing on his harpsichord. ‘We can

No longer play,’ he said. ‘We cannot see

The notes because of tears, O Maestro Grande!

They say a ruined villa once was shown

In Padua, where this singer died, unknown.