Che gelida manina (G. Puccini)

Difficulty level: Advanced | Three pages

Che gelida manina, an aria from the opera La bohème by the Italian opera composer Giacomo Puccini, has always been one of my favourite pieces of music. Many of Puccini’s arias are great, of course, but what’s so special about this one for me is optimism and tenderness. Che gelida manina means “that frozen little hand.” Upon their first meeting, Rodolfo, the hero, takes Mimi’s freezing hand into his own and tries to warm it up. Such a lovely image!

Rodolfo goes on to tell Mimi about himself, saying that

“Per sogni e per chimere
e per castelli in aria
l’anima ho milionaria.”

“In dreams and visions and castles in the air, I have the soul of a millionaire” – a sentiment and a description that I can easily identify with!

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