Almaviva.

I just finished Turgenev’s enjoyable 1874 novella Пунин и Бабурин [Punin and Baburin], in which the narrator describes his acquaintance with the odd couple Nikandr Punin and his gloomy “republican” benefactor Paramon Baburin, first having met them when he was twelve on his despotic grandmother’s estate in 1830, then as a student in Moscow seven years later, when Baburin’s ward Muza ran off with the narrator’s friend Tarkhov. At one point he says “Невдалеке от башни, завернутая в альмавиву (альмавивы были тогда в великой моде), виднелась фигура, в которой я тотчас признал Тархова,” which Constance Garnett translates “At no great distance from the tower I discerned, wrapped in an ‘Almaviva’ (‘Almavivas’ were then in the height of fashion), a figure which I recognised at once as Tarhov.” Garnett clearly thinks of “Almaviva” as an English word her reader is likely to recognize, but it meant nothing to me (except the count in Figaro) either in English or Russian. It was in my large Russian dictionary, defined as an obsolete word for a kind of man’s wide cloak, and it has its own Russian Wikipedia article, but it has a more fugitive existence in English; if you google [Almaviva cloak] you get a Wikidata page (apparently translated from Russian) calling it “voluminous cloak of Spanish origin, named after the operatic character Count Almaviva” and an 1857 quote from Bulwer Lytton, “The only thing remarkable in their dress is the so-called Almaviva cloak, in which they all, without any exception, wrap themselves up to the eyes…” Is anyone familiar with it, and does it exist in other languages? You’d think it would have been used in French, but it’s not in the TLFi, so apparently not.

Addendum. Another forgotten cloak name: immensikoff.

Comments

  1. Michael Hendry says:

    Is ‘Baturin’ in the third line a type of ‘Baburin’? If so, please fix and delete this.

  2. It was, and I thank you! But I’m not going to delete the only comment. We’ll leave it as a reminder of the impossibility of proofreading one’s own work, so recently discussed in another thread.

  3. Google give me a few more references. Balzac seems to have used the term. because it shows up in two modern translations and a number of discussions of Balzac:

    Gambara page 6

    Lost Illusions

  4. Whoever named the cloak after the operatic count was probably thinking of The Barber of Seville (1816) rather than The Marriage of Figaro (1786). Not so much because Rossini’s date fits the two Balzac works better (1837 and 1843) than Mozart’s, but because the young count spends much of Rossini’s ‘prequel’ in disguise, first serenading the future Countess in the street, then impersonating a military officer quartered in his beloved’s guardian’s house. (A good illustration of the usefulness of the often-neglected Third Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.) It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but I imagine he wears a cloak in most productions. The libretto may well say so, or strongly imply that. Any opera aficionados here who can help out?

  5. I came across it in Khutorok v Stepi by Valentin Katayev sometime in the early 70s:

    http://russkay-literatura.ru/kataev-b-p/715-kataev-xutorok-v-stepi-roman.html

  6. – Bros’, Petya! Ne poy mne lastochku. Ya zhe znayu, chto tvoyego fatera poperli so sluzhby i vy teper’ ne imeyete na zhizn’.

    It should be obvious, but I realized just now that Odessa dialect is just German grammar superimposed on Russian (well, Yiddish grammar, not that it differs from German much)

  7. I will ask my daughter Alma who’s mad on making clothes and occasionally goes to the opera whether she’s heard of the almaviva. Should it be capitalised or is it like a plastic mac?

    Third Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

    This says that American soldiers and sailors mustn’t be billeted on civilians. Does it apply to US forces abroad? I know Americans stayed with families in England before the Normandy invasion. What about Vietnam or Afghanistan? I’m very much in favour of this; I live close to the royal villa where the German governor of Norway lived & died during the war. Every so often I worry briefly that Russians and Americans are going to invade and kick us out of our house to find space for their guards & chauffeurs.

  8. Whoever named the cloak after the operatic count was probably thinking of The Barber of Seville (1816) rather than The Marriage of Figaro (1786).

    You’re right, of course; I just used “Figaro” as a vague cover term for both operas because I was too lazy to take the moment’s reflection needed to figure out which one I meant.

  9. I guess yushka and blansh I learned from a Katayev book as well.

  10. Count Almaviva’s wide brown cloak goes back to the original stage play by Pierre Beaumarchais, The Barber of Seville or the Useless Precaution (1775), the first of the three plays about Figaro, the Count, and Rosine. (Since the first two plays were turned into operatic masterpieces by Mozart and Rossini, the third, The Guilty Mother was a natural target for adaptation by later composers. There are several opera versions of it, but none have gotten particular acclaim.)

    The first English translation (which unfortunately seems to be attempting a faux-Shakespearean diction in the dialogue) gives this description of Almaviva:

    [The Dress of the Actors ought to be in the old Spanish Fashion.]
    Count Almaviva, a Grandee of Spain, the unknown Lover of Rosina, appears in the First Act in a Satin Waistcoat and Breeches, wrap’d up in a large Spanish brown Cloak; a black Hat slouch’d down with a colour’d Ribbon round the Crown. At the Second Act, dress’d as a Cavalier, with Wiskers and short Boots. At the Third, dressed as a Batchelor of Arts; his Hair curled round, a large Ruff round his Neck, Waistcoat, Breeches, Stockings, and Cloak of a Student. In the Fourth and Fifth, superbly dressed in the Spanish Fashion, with a rich Mantle; and over all, the large brown Cloak, in which he keeps himself wrapped up ’till the Fourth Act.

    I have only seen Rossini’s opera live once, when I was about nine. It was a Willamette University student production, in English, in operetta style with many alterations to the libretto. (It was hard to know in advance how many liberties these university productions would take. The Barber of Seville was the most divergent from the book, whereas a few years later, Willamette did Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutti translated but otherwise completely straight.) It featured memorable lines like, “Only Don Basilio could be that sneaky!” and had Figaro, during his famous first aria (moved to be before the Count’s love song) wandering through the audience, handing out business cards. (I think I still have one of those cards somewhere.)

    In that version, Figaro actually gave Almaviva the cloak to improve his disguise, before the Count serenades Rosina. Since the Count is disguised as a student, Figaro included a student ID card attached to the wide brown cloak.

  11. and had Figaro, during his famous first aria (moved to be before the Count’s love song) wandering through the audience, handing out business cards.

    That’s a brilliant idea!

  12. David Marjanović says:

    which unfortunately seems to be attempting a faux-Shakespearean diction in the dialogue

    …capitalizing every Noun in the German Fashion.

  13. As I recall, the cards said:

    Figaro
    Barber of Seville

    Certified Genius

  14. John Cowan says:

    [The Third Amendment] says that American soldiers and sailors mustn’t be billeted on civilians.

    Not quite. The actual wording (complete with some but not all German-style Capitals) is: “No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.” This was in response to the Quartering Acts 1765 and 1774, which did not actually push soldiers into occupied private homes, but did provide for their residence in unoccupied buildings at the expense of the colonial government without the owner’s consent. This was considered to be (and definitely was intended to be, in 1774) coercive, as it forced the colonies to pay for a decision, maintaining a standing army in America, that they had no voice in and indeed opposed as unnecessary and dangerous to liberty. These Acts were an explicit exception to the annually renewed Mutiny Acts 1689-1879, which forbade quartering without compensation. This is another fine example of the Declaratory Act at work: without its groundwork the Quartering Acts would have been arguably unconstitutional.

    At the time, barracks were considered both in Britain and America to be a dangerous Continental idea, because they separated soldiers from civilians and (it was thought) left the soldiers emotionally distant from their fellow-countrymen, so that they would not hesitate to fire on them if ordered. Given the massacres of St. George’s Fields in London (1768), of Tranent in East Lothian (1797), the Peterloo Massacre (1819), the Merthyr Tydfil Rising (1831), the Chartist Newport (Wales) Rising (1839), and the Preston (Lancashire) Strike (1842), this view may have been correct. Before 1768 there had been no soldiers vs. civilians massacres since the Harrying of the North (1069-70), not counting the massacre at Berwick-upon-Tweed (1296), which was at that time part of Scotland and therefore a foreign country; there have been none in Great Britain since 1842. Ireland is another matter: writing out that list would stuff this paragraph beyond the breaking point.

    first English translation […] faux-Shakespearean diction

    This English version is dated 1776, and is a translation of Beaumarchais’s 1775 play, not of Rossini’s 1816 opera. Its diction doesn’t look any more Shakespearean to me than the diction of Sheridan’s The School for Scandal, which appeared in following year, or for that matter (allowing for the different subject), the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Rather, they are Augustan.

  15. January First-of-May says:

    I know Americans stayed with families in England before the Normandy invasion.

    …It took me quite a bit of parsing this sentence before I could get past the initial impression of “did you just say that William the Conqueror pushed the Americans out of England?”, and figure out what you were actually describing.

  16. So, John – and thanks for the explanation – the Third Amendment doesn’t apply to the American military when it’s abroad? I read that the southern states did a bit of unconstitutional biletting during the civil war.

  17. January First-of-May, haha. It sounds like a potentially very successful Netflix series.

  18. The distinction is war/peace, not U.S./foreign.

  19. January First-of-May says:

    The distinction is war/peace, not U.S./foreign.

    The way I understand it, the only war/peace distinction in the Third Amendment is to explicitly include both (though apparently it is said to be less restrictive on the war side, somehow).

    As far as I can tell, the way it comes out is that the Third Amendment is intended to protect the rights of residents who could otherwise get military quartered at their home against their will.
    As such, it doesn’t really have a way to protect the rights of foreign civilians even if the military units in their homes are American, but would presumably protect American residents from having foreign soldiers foisted on their homes (though I have no idea whether any foreign soldiers were ever quartered in any buildings on US soil at all, except obviously as prisoners of war).

  20. @January First-of-May: Essentially everyone agrees that the Third Amendment absolutely forbids forcible quartering of soldiers on private property in peacetime. That is the universal American understanding, supported by the Congressional record from the when the Bill of Rights was adopted. What impact it has overseas is unknown, as there is essentially no case law on the Third Amendment. It is just very, very rarely litigated. In fact, if the Web is to be believed, there has never been a binding precedent established in a federal law suit that was based on the affirmative right set down in the Third Amendment.

  21. It would be very odd to assume that a law had extraterritorial application where that was not explicitly mentioned, in any legal system I know of. Much of the point of the miseries of Guantánamo Bay is that the US constitution was not perceived to apply, though now I review the Wikipedia article various cases have found that e.g. habeas corpus does apply even to non-US citizens.

    Clearly, forcible quartering of US soldiers on private (US citizens’ or at least residents’) property is unconstitutional. It is not remotely clear that, e.g. the use of the Rothschilds’ Paris chateau as a transit centre by the US was unconstitutional, and I doubt it was ever raised as a question at the time.

  22. John Cowan says:

    The Third Amendment presumably refers to both friendly foreign soldiers and American soldiers on American soil (obviously it would not apply to enemy soldiers, of which there have been none since the British-American War of1812, except for the Japanese occupation of the Aleutian Islands in 1942-43), as well as to American soldiers on foreign soil.

    But there are no such adjectives as “American” or “foreign” in the text, and the Supreme Court has never taken up a single case that turns on the Third Amendment, though the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit did decide Engblom v. Carey, which established that the National Guard (the state militia) count as soldiers, that the Amendment extends to the states as well as the federal government, and that to sue you need not own the house in question as long as you legally occupy it. At the bottom, there is a link to an extensive article on Third Amendment jurisprudence, which points out that there were unquestionably violations during the War of 1812, and if the Civil War escapes, it is only because it was neither “time of war” (none was declared) nor “time of peace”.

  23. I have no idea whether any foreign soldiers were ever quartered in any buildings on US soil at all

    Soviet Air Force personnel was stationed permanently in Alaska during WWII.

    Alaska formed a crucial link of the so-called Alaska-Siberia supply route (ALSIB) which was used to flew over 8000 US aircraft to the Russian front as part of the lend-lease program.

    US pilots flew the planes from Great Falls, Montana, through Canada to Fairbanks, Alaska, where they were painted with a red star and turned over to Russian pilots.

    Then Russian pilots stationed in Alaska would fly them over uninhabited Siberian wilderness to more settled areas with railroad links to European Russia.

    Russian pilots really liked this job – living in America, flying long-distance flights over Siberia and making an important contribution to the war effort in the process. It certainly was better than life of a front-line pilot, though it wasn’t very safe either.

    American planes were not really designed for long-distance flights in Arctic conditions and many planes crashed over Siberia.

    Some pilots even managed to survive these crashes, often it took several months of lonely trek over taiga and tundra to the closest settlement.

  24. David Marjanović says:

    I had no idea.

  25. Thanks, January First-of-May!

    Brett: What impact it has overseas is unknown

    It’s clear that American forces lived in people’s houses and even drove jeeps up & down the driveway. The house owners were jolly lucky to have them, of course. But I wonder if it isn’t sensible to remove rules that have only transient significance and replace them in a bill of rights with something less fleeting; animal rights, free health care, a ban on firearms, that sort of thing.

  26. It would be very odd to assume that a law had extraterritorial application where that was not explicitly mentioned, in any legal system I know of.

    I’m not sure whether you mean literally a law or a national body of law. In any case:

    3.—The application of this Act to a person subject to military law shall not be affected by reason of the fact that such person is for the time being outside the State or on board a ship or aircraft. – Irish Defence Act. 1954.

  27. The funny thing about Engblom v. Carey is that the appeals court ruled that the summary dismissal by the trial court was incorrect, since there was a colorable Third Amendment argument. However the plaintiffs still lost when the case went to trial. The court ruled that the New York enjoyed qualified immunity, since the Constitutional issues had never previously been litigated (which is not so typical of how other explicit rights in the Constitution are handled). Moreover, the trial judge said that he would inclined to rule in favor of the state on basis of the specific facts anyway.

  28. January First-of-May says:

    But I wonder if it isn’t sensible to remove rules that have only transient significance and replace them in a bill of rights with something less fleeting; animal rights, free health care, a ban on firearms, that sort of thing.

    It would be weird to have a ban on firearms right next to a ban on bans on firearms (aka the 2nd amendment).

    As for animal rights, the main problem is to what extent they should take priority over human rights; IIRC, it had been noted that many modern European farmers (to the extent that there still are any) are unable, or nearly unable, to protect their fields from wolves, because most of the formerly common methods are currently illegal to use on wolves.

    (No comment on free health care, except that obviously someone has to pay for it. IIRC, European countries mostly get around this by having much higher taxes, and/or by only allowing the benefits of health care to full citizens.)

  29. John Cowan says:

    There remain the highly effective sheep-guarding (not sheep-herding) dogs. Americans are scandalously undertaxed (and I say this despite having just sent in $$$$$ to New York State) and scandalously overcharged for health care.

    But AJP, you underestimate how truly entrenched the U.S. constitution is: if not always first in war or even first in peace, definitely first in the hearts of our countrymen. To change even a single word in it requires a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress (the President is not involved), and then the approval of both houses of least 38 state legislatures, with neither house in any sense a rubber stamp (the governors are not involved either). We can’t even delete the passage that makes slaves count as 3/5 of a person for apportionment purposes or the one that lays down how many representatives each state will send to Congress until a census can be taken. It does sometimes happen, but on the whole you’d have better luck trying to amend the Bible.

    Specifically, in the 230 years since 1789, other than the 11 amendments forming the original Bill of Rights (of which 10 were passed right away and the last was not ratified until 202 years later), the two mutually canceling Prohibition amendments, and the three amendments that ratified the results of the Civil War, only 11 amendments have run this gauntlet.

    As for extraterrorial jurisdiction, in time of war all armies claim sole jurisdiction over their own soldiers, and in time of peace it is generally done by a “status of forces” agreement between the host nation and . The U.S. versions of these agreements normally provide for U.S. jurisdiction over crimes committed by U.S. soldiers (sailors, etc.) against other U.S soldiers, as well as those committed by U.S. soldiers during military activities, but all other criminal jurisdiction is local.

  30. January First-of-May says:

    other than the 11 amendments forming the original Bill of Rights (of which 10 were passed right away and the last was not ratified until 202 years later)

    There were actually 12, but one of them is still not ratified to this day (though there is apparently some evidence that it might have actually been ratified at one point), and due to a mathematical error would probably have had no effect anyway even if implemented eventually (at least, assuming that the US population never falls below 25 million or so).

    We can’t even delete the passage that makes slaves count as 3/5 of a person for apportionment purposes or the one that lays down how many representatives each state will send to Congress until a census can be taken.

    That’s a different thing – amendments to the US constitution are added separately at the end of the text, so the original text is technically never amended at all.
    This is also why the mutually cancelling Prohibition amendments are both still there (in an actual text-amending system they would have left no traces except possibly an indication that a passage was amended).

  31. The amendments could have changed the text of the Constitution, but it was a precedent set by the Twelfth Amendment that they do not and are simply added to the end, even when they explicitly contradict something stated earlier.

  32. David Marjanović says:

    IIRC, European countries mostly get around this by having much higher taxes,

    And by using their monopsony power to negotiate prices with the pharma companies, something the US (Medicare, Medicaid) is currently not legally allowed to do.

    Many own not-for-profit insurance; that obviously slashes the prices. The UK doesn’t even bother with insurance and instead is a healthcare provider.

  33. negotiate prices with the pharma companies, something the US (Medicare, Medicaid) is currently not legally allowed to do

    Drug companies negotiate prices with insurance companies in the US.

  34. Yes, but the government can’t.

  35. January First-of-May: As for animal rights…

    Oh, sure. I don’t expect these to become part of the US constitution, I was really just giving examples of more long-lasting issues than the one covered by the third amendment.

    JC: But AJP, you underestimate how truly entrenched the U.S. constitution is
    No, I know. I know there are many good things about it and like the Bible it has held up amazingly well, but what I was criticising is its inability to sometimes bend with the wind over 250 years (arming bears and that sort of thing). Brett’s last comment made that clearer for me.

  36. Yes, but the government can’t.

    I’m not arguing, just pointing out an interesting/horrifying article I read in the NY Times.

  37. David Marjanović says:

    Drug companies negotiate prices with insurance companies in the US.

    Private for-profit insurance companies can and sometimes do. The US can’t.

  38. I don’t want to let this discussion go by without linking to this 2007 Onion piece, which is the only reason I remember what the third amendment to the US constitution is about: Third Amendment Rights Group Celebrates Another Successful Year.

  39. per incuriam says:

    does it exist in other languages?

    From a couple of 19th century dictionaries:

    German
    “kurzer Mantel von spanischem Schnitt, dessen Benennung muthmaßlich von der Maske des Grafen Almaviva in der Oper Der Barbier von Sevilla herrührt”

    Piemontese:
    “sorta di mantello, meno ampio dell’ordinario”

    neither of which seem a close fit for the “wide cloak”/”grand manteau” meaning.

    It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but I imagine he wears a cloak in most productions. The libretto may well say so, or strongly imply that. Any opera aficionados here who can help out?

    What the libretto says is avvolto in un mantello (“wrapped up in a mantle”). But in this age of Regietheater, productions rarely pay much heed to the libretto (at least not to the bits in italics). Zum Beispiel

  40. Thanks!

  41. Stu Clayton says:

    To its credit, The Onion has since then become more prägnant.

  42. Erna Buber says:

    I came across ‘ When he wore an overcoat he scorned to pass the sleeves; a single button held it round his shoulders; it was tossed backwards after the manner of a cloak, and carried it with the gait and presence of an Almaviva… If he were not Almaviva after all, it was not for lack of making believe… If he were not really Almaviva, he was sometimes just as happy as if he were.’ The quote is from Providence and the Guitar from New Arabian Nights by R.L.Stevenson. I Googled the word and found this discussion. It seems to me that that indicates the Russian cloak was named after the character Almaviva in the opera?

  43. It appears so.

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