JUEGO DE SIEMPRE, 12 folk songs in Ladino, 1991, for female voice and chamber orchestra (Revised 1994)​

 

Commissioned by the Beit Hatefoutsot Museum, Israel, 1991
Publisher: Israel Music Institute, 1994, IMI 6920 | Duration: 28 min.

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In Juego de Siempre (The Never-ending Game) for mezzo-soprano and seven players, Betty Olivero has set twelve Ladino (Spanish-Jewish) melodies and texts drawn from the rich heritage of music and poetry produced during the great millennium of Jewish residence in Spain, which came to an abrupt end with the expulsion of 1492. These songs were not notated, but were passed from mother to daughter over the centuries and carried abroad during the migration of the Spanish-Jewish community. It is sometimes difficult to tell which songs were actually of Spanish-Jewish origin and which were well-known Spanish songs that the Jews sang – as did their Christian and/or Moorish neighbors – and took with them after 1492. The repertory can be divided into three classes – songs with no particular Jewish content (often with a flavor of late-medieval Spanish chivalry), those with distinctively Jewish content (often referring to the Old Testament), and those with no particular national characteristics (lullabies, love songs, etc.). Olivero selected a group of songs that represent a wide range of this tradition; each poem is a drama in itself. It is a tapestry of scenes from home and community throughout the seasons of the years and the course of the day, from morning to night, from birth to death, from marriage in one generation to the next.



JUEGO DE SIEMPRE


1. Juego de siempre

A weeding song telling of the ring, the first embrace and the dowry with the message: so it was and so it will be the never ending game.


Se lava esta novio

Con rosa y 0azumb

Parabien parecer.

Y uno, dos, tres, cuatro,

Cinco, seis, siete,

Juego de siempre.

Jugaba la novia

Con su marido

Y al primer juego

Le dio un anillo.

Y uno...

Jugaba la novia

Con su regalo

Y al primer juego

Le dio un abrazo.

Y uno...

Jugaba la novia

Con su velado

Y al primer juego

Contaba el dote.

Y uno...


2. Ir me kero madre

Two sons want to leave the parental home and go to seek their fortunes in the wide world.


Ir me kero madre

por estos mundos me ire

Las yervas d’akeyos kampos

por pan me las komere. Aman!

Ir me vo you, la mi madre,

por los mudos kuantos son,

Ahi, por los mundos kuantos son. Aman...


3. Ay ke Buena

A wedding song: a love dialogue between the bride and groom.


Ay, ke buena ke fue la hora

Ke vos alkansi;

Kon dos miniamim de djente

Kidushin vos di.

Ansi, ansi, mi alma ansi,

O, ke buena ke fue la hora

Ke vos alkansi.

Yo pasi la vuestra puertaI

Oras de arvitI

Pasi I torni, non vos vide

L’alma tengo ayi.

Ansi...


4. Nani, nani

A lullaby telling of a betraye wife whose husband comes home from his other love.


Nani, Nani

Nani kere el ijo

El ijo de la madre

De chiko se aga grande.

I durmete milama, i durmete mi vista

I, ke tu padre viene, kon muncha alegria.

Ah, avrimesh, mi doma, avrimesh la puerta

Ke vengo kansado de avar las minetas

Ah, avrir no vos avro, no venish kansado

Sino ke venish de ande nueva amor!


5. Galeas las mis galeas

A song of yearning by an imprisoned sailor waiting for freedom. The last verse is taken from the well known romance La Serena, about a mermaid who tempts sailors.


Galeas las mis galeas no las puedo sonportar

Aman, aman de mil no los puedo sonportar.


Polo par, muncho trawajo kon palos i non durmir.

Palas yevi sietesiento ke los lados no me siento.

[Aman, aman de mil de los lados no me siento].

Ke me vendan et asiento i ke me rezgaten d’aki

[Aman, aman de mil i ke me rezgaten d’aki].

(La Serena)

En la mar ay una torre

En la torre ay una ventana

En la ventana ay una ija

Ke a los marineros ama.


6. Pregoneros

A king offers a prize to whomever brings his lost son alive. The fishermen fish him out of the seas.


Pregoneros por las plasas: ijo

delrey ken veria?

Si se lo trayian bivo ambres

grandes los aria.

Sis se lo trayian muerto sus

prezentes les daria.

Vieron vinir tres en kavayo

aziendo gran polveria.t

Vinieron serka del rio a la mar

lo echarian.


7. Ir me kero madre


Ir me kero madre a Yerushalayim

I komer las yeruus i artance d’eyas

En el Kotel Maaravi ay uim ziara

Todas mis demandas ayi me s’afirmanan

En el me arrino yo

En el me enfiguzio yo

En el patron del mundo

En el sinior del mundo.


8. Morenica Sos

A love song


Morenica sos

Comola pimieta

Vuestra sangre dulce

En mi koracon entrabe

Dizi me ansi que yo me cansi

De vez que vos veo

La cara en el espejo

Me s’arranca l’al

Por dar vas un bezo

Morenica sos.


9. Chichi Bunichi

An old Sarajevo finger counting nursery rhyme.


Chichi bunichi

I redi lainichi

Esti dimanda panth

I esti dimanda kezuth

I esti si nues bueno Djidyo

Vanus a yamar al Suryor Rubi.

Chichi bunichi

I redi lainichi

Esti dizi dami un pakerito

La gaylinika echo un goviziko

Aki, aki, aki para aki

Alabokita di mi ijiko.


10. Achot Ketana

A New Year song written in the 13th century by Avraham Gerondi of the Catalonian town of Herona. The little sister is a symbol of the soul of the world, the people of Israel.


Achot ketana tefiloteia

Orcha v’ona tehiloteia

Elna refana lemachaloteia

Tichle shanave kileloteiha

Elna refana lemachaloteia

Tichle shanave kileloteiha


11. Kondja mia

A love song in which the man sings to his sweetheart, “for my dark one I’m tormented, I have been burned in the flame”.


Kondja mia, kondja mia

Chichek de mi kavesa,

La luna s’eskoresio

La mar ya se izo preta.

Avlame ninya kon amor

Mira k’esto en el fuego

Se va murir in manservo

Ke no vido nada de bueno.

Yo djurava i dezia

Ke non i mas al amor

Fue kavzante una morena

Ke a mi izo enflamar.


12. Ay ke buena! (reprise)


Ay, ke buena ke fue la hora

Ke vos alkansi;

Kon dos miniamim de djente

Kidushin vos di.

Ansi, ansi, mi alma ansi,

O, ke buena ke fue la hora

Ke vos alkansi.

Yo pasi la vuestra puerta

Oras de arvit

Pasi I torni, non vos vide

L’alma tengo ayi.

Ansi...

 

Betty Olivero: Juego De Siempre, The New York Times, By Bernard Holland >>

JUEGO DE SIEMPRE (7 players)

​​​1. Juego de siempre (The Never-Ending Game)

2. Ir me kero madre (I want to go to Jerusalem, Mother)

3. Ay, ke buena (Oh Happy Moment)

4. Nany Nany (The Betrayed Woman)

5. Galeas (Galleon)

6. Pregoneros (The Town Crier)

7. Ir me kero madre (I want to go to Jerusalem, Mother)

8. Morenica sos (You are Dark)

9. Chichi Bunichi (Chichi Bunichi)

10. Acho’t Ketana’ (Little Sister)

11. Kodja mia (Oh My Rose)

12. Ay, ke buena! (reprise) (O Happy Moment – reprise)

 

​CD: Beit Hatefutsoth BTR 9201, Esti Kenan-Ofri, Mezzo-Sopran, members of the Israel Chamber Orchestra, Conductor: Israel Idelson.

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THE NEVER ENDING GAME

​​​

1. The Never Ending Game

A weeding song telling of the ring, the first embrace and the dowry with the message: so it was and so it will be the never ending game.

The groom bathes

in rose water

to enhance his beauty.

And one, two, three, four

five, six, seven,

and the game goes on.

The bride and her husband

dance circles together

and in the first turn

he gives her a ring.

And one…

The bride dances circles

with his gift to her

and in the first turn

they embrace.

And one…

The bride dances circles

with her veil

and in the first turn

she gives him her dowry.

And one…

2. I Want to Wander Mother

Two sons want to leave the parental home and go to seek their fortunes in the wide world.

Mother I want to wander

the world over

the grass of the fields

my bread.

I wish to wander mother

the world over

Ah, to the four corners of the earth.

3. O Happy Moment

A wedding song: a love dialogue between the bride and groom.

Oh, happy moment

to give you the ring

before the dozen people

to give you the blessing.

And so, my soul-mate

O happy moment!

To give you the ring!

I passed your door at dusk

I passed again and I gain

You were not there

There I left my soul.

And so…

​​

4. The Betrayed Woman

A lullaby telling of a betray wife whose husband comes home from his other love.

Sleep, sleep

sleep dear child

mama’s love

little child soon to grow.

- Ah, sleep my soul, sleep my eyes.

- Ah, your father comes so joyous.

- Ah, open my lady, open the door

that I may rest from my long journey.

- Ah, I shell not open for you, don’t come to rest

for you return from the other lady-love.

5. Galleon

A song of yearning by an imprisoned sailor waiting for freedom. The last verse is taken from the well known romance La Serena, about a mermaid who tempts sailors.

My ship, galleon, cannot endure the pain

Ahi, ahi, what will become of me?

I cannot endure the pain!

Little bread, hard labor, lashes of the whip,

and little sleep.

Ahi, ahi, lashings, no sleep.

I bear seven hundred lashes till I can bear no more.

[Ahi, ahi, I can bear the lashes no more.]

Let them sell all my possessions and ransom me from here.

[Ahi, ahi, let them ransom me from here.]

(The Mermaid)

In the sea there is a tower

In the tower there is a window

In the window there is a maiden

Who loves sailor men.

6. The Town Crier

A king offers a prize to whomever brings his lost son alive. The fishermen fish him out of the seas.

The town crier calls through the square:

The prince is coming!

If they bring him alive,

he will rise to greatness,

If they bring him dead,

he will still be honored.

Three cavaliers rose through the dust

towards the shore,

And threw him

in the river.

7. I Want to Go to Jerusalem, Mother

I want to go to Jerusalem, mother

To eat its fruits, to eat until I am satiated.

At the Wailing Wall I shall be heard,

All my whishes will be fulfilled.

In Him I trust

In Him I am secure

In the lord of the Universe

In the king of the Universe.

8. You are dark

A love song

You are dark

dark as a pepper

sweet is your blood

witched is my soul.

Seeing your face in the mirror

my heart burns

with the desire to kiss you.

 

9. Chichi Bunichi

An old Sarajevo finger counting nursery rhyme.

Chichi bunichi

I redi lainichi

this one asks for bread

this one asks for cheese

and if this one is not a good Jewish boy

We’ll go and call the Rabbi.

Chichi bunichi

I redi lainichi

this one gives me a little package

the hen lays an egg

here, here, here

to the mouth of my little child.

​​​

10. Little Sister

A New Year song written in the 13th century by Avraham Gerondi of the Catalonian town of Herona. The little sister is a symbol of the soul of the world, the people of Israel.

The little sister prepares her prayers

and intones her praises.

Oh God we beseech Thee, heal now

her infirmities.

May the year and its misfortunes

now cease altogether.

​​

11. Oh My Rose

A love song in which the man sings to his sweetheart, “for my dark one I’m tormented, I have been burned in the flame”.

Rose my rose

Flower of my head

The mood became dark to me

The seas became black to me.

Speak words of love to me

See how my soul burns

Have mercy on this young man

Who shall die with dreams unfulfilled.

I swore I would never love again

My heart is broken

I am weary from suffering from the dark-haired one.

I am burnt by the flame of love.

12. O Happy Moment (reprise)

Oh, happy moment

to give you the ring

before the dozen people

to give you the blessing.

And so, my soul-mate

O happy moment!

To give you the ring!

I passed your door at dusk

I passed again and I gain

You were not there

There I left my soul.

And so…

© 2019 by Betty Olivero

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