Here’s a very sweet opera translation. Not quite English, but very honest, and supremely true to the spirit (if not the literacy) of the original. (Go here and here for previous posts, with terrific comments, about opera translations.)

This is from liner notes to an aria recital album by the soprano Fabiana Bravo. It’s an English (sort of) version of the first lines of that wonderful operatic chestnut, “Ebben? Ne andrò lontana,” from Catalani’s La Wally (otherwise known as the aria from the film Diva):

Ebben? Ne andrò lontana,
Come va l’eco della pia campagna…
Là, fra le neve bianca!
Là, fra i nubi d’ôr!
Laddove la speranza, la speranza,
È rimpianto, è rimpianto è dolor!

Ah well then! I shall go far away
Like the echo of the pious church bell goes away
There somewhere in the white snow,
There amongst the clouds of gold,
There where hope, hope
Is regret, is regret, is sorrow!

(These liner notes are written by an eager enthusiast, who doesn’t let the shackles of mere language restrict him. In a plot summary of Verdi’s Il corsaro, he writes this enduring wonder: “Her mood becomes gloomy, resulting in a foreboding that one day he may never return.”)

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. Suzanne Derringer says

    Hi, Greg –

    Well, a naive charm there. The Italian’s not much more sophisticated, only more grammatical. The plot summary is a gem of its kind.

    On the vexed subject of translations: I attended the Met’s Traviata dress rehearsal last Friday. A friend had seats in the center of the Grand Tier – perfect location for hearing, or not hearing, the words as they were sung. As I wrote earlier: the blending of sounds in the large auditorium, the fact of singing over a full orchestra and the speed at which the text is sung, all militate against comprehension of the libretto. I’ve known Traviata “by heart” since my teens – all the parts – but without that line-by-line knowledge, I would not have been able to comprehend most of the sung words. This was not the fault of the singers, who were, generally, articulating as well as could be done, given the requirements of the music.

    I used the title screen, and found the titles to be intelligent, accurate and well compressed. In any translation, of course, one wants not a literal translation but an interpretation – an expression of the meaning, as accurate as possible but made comprehensible in the language/culture you’re translating into. Interesting to see how well the Met did with this, in the special conditions imposed by the title format. This was true in the English and German titles; I didn’t look at the others. The Met’s titles were informative but not intrusive.