Il Paradiso Terrestre

Soprano and piano
5 minutes
1988

Program Note

Il Paradiso Terrestre for soprano and piano was written in 1988 for the soprano Xing Ping Hu while we both were taking the same Italian diction class at the Manhattan School of Music.  The text is taken from Dante’s Purgatorio, the second section of the Divine Comedy.  After being guided by Virgil through Hell, Dante emerges at the foot of the mountain of Purgatory, on which the sins of the souls destined for Paradise are purged away.  The Garden of Eden, the celestial paradise, is located at the top of the mountain, and here Dante sees an unknown woman whose description of Eden forms the text of the song.  Immediately afterward, Virgil leaves Dante, and Beatrice appears before him: symbolically, Human Reason, which has guided the poet through Hell and Purgatory, must be replaced by Divine Revelation, which alone can guide the pilgrim through Paradise to the vision of God at the end of the Commedia.