The great American tenor and Hollywood star of Italian origin, Mario Lanza sings O Paradis! (Oh Paradise!), one of the most celebrated arias from “L’Africaine” (The African Woman), a grand opéra in five acts with music by the German composer Giacomo Meyerbeer (1971-1864) and a libretto by the French librettist Eugène Scribe (1791-1861). From the 1956 movie Serenade, Lanza’s fifth film, and his first on-screen appearance in four years. Directed by Anthony Mann and based on the 1937 novel of the same name by James M. Cain, the film also stars Joan Fontaine, Sara Montiel (billed as Sarita Montiel), and Vincent Price.

Mario Lanza sings O Paradis! From the 1956 movie Serenade.

O Paradis!

“O Paradis” (Oh Paradise) is one of the most celebrated arias from the opera “L’Africaine” (The African Woman), which was posthumously premiered in 1865. The opera was the last work of the German-born French composer Giacomo Meyerbeer. “L’Africaine” is a grand opera in five acts, and Meyerbeer completed it shortly before his death, but it underwent significant revisions by the librettist François-Joseph Fétis before its premiere.

The story of “L’Africaine” revolves around the fictionalized exploits of the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama and his discovery of a sea route to India. The plot intertwines themes of love, colonialism, and cultural conflict, exploring the tragic love story between Vasco da Gama and Sélika, an African queen who is initially presented as a slave.

“O Paradis” is sung by Vasco da Gama in Act IV when he arrives on the shores of a lush, unknown land (presumed to be Madagascar, though the opera is not historically accurate). Standing on the deck of his ship, da Gama is overwhelmed by the beauty of the landscape and believes he has discovered paradise. The aria expresses his awe, wonder, and the fulfillment of his dreams of exploration and discovery. It is a moment of pure lyrical beauty that captures the explorer’s emotions as he gazes upon the new land for the first time.

This aria stands out for its lush orchestration and the emotional depth it conveys, showcasing Meyerbeer’s skill in operatic composition. It requires a tenor with a strong voice that can deliver both the power and subtlety needed to express da Gama’s complex emotions. “O Paradis” has become a favorite piece in the tenor repertoire, celebrated for its melodic richness and the vocal prowess it demands.

O Paradis! Lyrics [text]

Italian: O Paradis!

Mi batte il cor!
spettacol divin
sognata terra ecco ti premo al fin
o paradiso
dal onda uscito
fiorente suol
splendido suol
in voi rapito io son
tu m’appartieni
o nuovo mondo
alla mia patria ti posso
ti posso ofrir
nostro e questo terreno fecondo
que l’europa puo tutta arricchir
spettacolo divin
in te rapito
io son
O nuovo mondo
tu m’appartieni (rep)
a me, tu m’appartieni a me
o nuovo mondo tu m’appartieni
tu m’appartieni a me ame, ame, a me.

English translation: Oh Paradise!

My heart throbs…wondrous scene!
At last, I embrace you, the land I’ve dreamed of!
A paradise, emerging from the sea,
Flowering earth, brilliant sun,
You entrance me!
You belong to me!
Oh new world,
I can offer you my homeland!
This fertile earth is ours,
Which can enrich all of Europe!
Wondrous scene!
You fascinate me!
Oh new world,
You belong to me!
To me!


M. Özgür Nevres

Published by M. Özgür Nevres

I am Özgür Nevres, a software engineer, a former road racing cyclist, and also an amateur musician. I opened to share my favorite music. I also take care of stray cats & dogs. This website's all income goes directly to our furry friends. Please consider supporting me on Patreon, so I can help more animals!

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