Lyrics of the 'Rigoletto' Aria 'Questa O Quello'

The Duke's aria from Verdi's opera "Rigoletto"

A Metropolitan Opera production with Mark Delavan as Rigoletto and Norah Amsellem as Gilda performing Verdi’s ‘Rigoletto’ at Central Park’s Great Lawn on Wednesday night, August 23, 2006.
A Metropolitan Opera production with Mark Delavan as Rigoletto and Norah Amsellem as Gilda performing Verdi’s ‘Rigoletto’ at Central Park’s Great Lawn on Wednesday night, August 23, 2006. Photo by Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images

“Questa o quella” is an aria performed by the Duke of Mantua in the first act of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera "Rigoletto." This opera is based on a Victor Hugo play, "Le roi s'amuse" and its libretto was written in Italian by Francesco Piave. It premiered in Venice in 1851 and is considered one of Verdi's signature works.

In addition to "Questa o Quello," this opera also is known for the famous aria "La donna e mobile" (translation: "women are fickle"), which received renewed attention from modern opera audiences thanks to the performances of the late tenor Luciano Pavarotti.

Plot of the Opera 'Rigoletto'

"Rigoletto" tells the tale of the titular court jester, his daughter Gilda and the Duke of Mantua. Its original title was "La Maledizione" (which translates as "The Curse"), a reference to a central plot point. The father of a woman whom the Duke seduced (and whom Rigoletto mocked), placed the curse on both men. 

The curse comes to pass when Gilda, who has fallen in love with the Duke,  is mistakenly killed by an assassin Rigoletto hired. 

The Duke of Mantua Sings 'Questa o Quello'

The Duke makes his attitude toward women plain in this aria: "Questo o Quello" roughly translates to "this woman or that one." He announces to Rigoletto his intention to court the married Countess Ceprano. Rigoletto agrees to help with his quest, despite warnings about Countess Ceprano's jealous husband. Little does Rigoletto know that his daughter and the Duke are carrying on a secret affair, but neither knows of the other's connection to the jester.

 

'Questa o Quella' Italian Lyrics

Questa o quella per me pari sono
a quant' altre d' intorno mi vedo,
del mio core l' impero non cedo
meglio ad una che ad altre beltà
La costoro avvenenza è qual dono
di che il fato ne infiora la vita
s' oggi questa mi torna gradita
forse un' altra doman lo sarà.
La costanza tiranna delcore
detestiamo qual morbo crudele,
sol chi vuole si serbi fedele;
Non v'ha amor se non v'è libertà.


De' i mariti il geloso furore,
degli amanti le smanie derido,
anco d' Argo i cent'occhi disfido
se mi punge una qualche beltà.

'Questa o quella' English Translation

This girl or that girl are equal
to the all the others I see around me,
the core of my being I will not yield
to one beauty or another
their attractiveness is what they are gifted
from fate and embellishes life
Perhaps today this girl welcomes me
perhaps tomorrow another girl will demand me.
Constancy is a tyrant to the heart
it is a hated cruel disease to
only those who want you to be faithful;
There can be no love if there is no freedom.
Husbands’ jealous rage,
lovers’ woes I despise,
I defy the hundred eyes of Argo
if I fancy a few beauties.

Famous Duke of Mantua Performances from Verdi’s 'Rigoletto'