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.