Thursday, March 09, 2006

Not Lost in Translation

A quick note of apology to whoever googled "In Time which Made a Monkey of us All" perhaps looking for the full text of the story by Grace Paley, she whose literary garment I am not fit to kiss the hem of, and ended up here of all places. Does it make your flesh crawl just a bit that I can see what google threads lead to MFI? Well nevermind, it doesn't give me your phone number or anything.

A lovely lad we'll just call Boris gave me a Gala Barbiere di Siviglia (that is in fact a Barbier von Sevilla, geh weiss) after seeing me pick it up and put it down about a hundred and twenty times at Academy. I'm sure I've made my feelings on opera in translation clear--read: known to even the dead--but the cast got the better of me, as happens to all of us I'll wager*. I mean, it'd be silly to turn up one's nose at Wunderlich, Koth, and Prey (oh and Hotter!?!) just because things aren't sonically Mediterranean enough.

Ok, but let's step back for a moment into Maury's World of Negativity. Opera in translation always sounds to me like it's being put on for school children. I just had to say that, and if you agree, stomp your foot or something. And now I'm done with the hatin'. I guess I'll just listen and comment incoherently. If it were coherence you were after, you'd have stopped reading.

Well this is fascinating to report: the annoying trick of upshifting straight into falsetto on the last "Figaro!" in everyone's favorite cartoon moment is apparently no newer than 1959, and forgivable here only because of the overall charm and suavity of Prey's singing. Note to all other baritones: if a measure of girly voice is the only fun trick in your bag of shtick, just shut up and sing. I wonder if I need an acronym for that, like Dan Savage and his DTMFA: SUAS.

He was a funny looking guy, that Hermann Prey. Seriously large forehead.

Minor note to...producer or someone: if you're doing a bonus track with Reri Grist, why pick a part of the opera that hardly has her in it? Well nevermind. We're not really concerned with Reri Grist here. So am I correct in thinking that Erika Koth's vibrato is so fast and intrusive that I'm the only person in the world capable of liking her voice? I think I'll feel better if someone else likes her, thought it's always fun feeling one's tastes are rarefied I suppose, in a teenage "nobody understands me" sort of way. That's actually a line in Onegin, by the way. Nikto menia ne ponimaet. And yet Tatiana doesn't come off as an unbearable ninny. Koth's ornaments, aright, are a little uber the top, but holy fuck, was that a G? My guitar thinks it was. I'd blow the pipe on her but I don't have one at present. I know, I know, what kind of opera queen...

Considering he's 30 years into a career of Wagner singing by this point, I'd say Hans Hotter makes...still something of a disburbing Rossinian.

[this is how boring the Oscars are: they're on, and I'm watching out of one eye as I listen to disc 2 and continue to write. This is fit treatment for Seventh Heaven but a sad standard for the big gold guy. ed.:and now you know I started this a few nights ago]

I think they left out Berta's aria. Probably she was sung by 75 year old Hildegard von Blutfliessendevondenohren and someone at Gala thought: maybe not. Also seemingly absent, the lesson aria, although perhaps what's missing is my ability to translate German track names into Italian via English. (One would end up with something out of "English as She is Spoke," the phrasebook that spawned phrases such as "to craunch a marmoset," which I encourage you to use when possible.) Oh wait. Best actor. I heart Ph. Seymour Hoffman but that was a boring damn speech.

Wunderlich is like puppies or something: so universally liked that it's just incredibly boring to say anything about him, because it's just going to amount to "yeah, me too." Would that have been funnier if instead of "puppies" I'd said "oral sex," do you suppose? That's one reliable thing about Maury, he always shows his work. For the record, Fritz sounds like he could have sung it standing on his Kopf. Juggling. Knives.

I cannot help but note that Keilberth does not blow in Rossini, a surprise after many years of hating his recordings of German rep. And having so noted, cannot help but wonder if reviews of random recordings are in the least entertaining. And on that note of insecurity I still my keyboard for now, though I just got a couple of other swell ones (and a DVD of Simionato et al in Aida, on the visual end of things.)

*and today what do I do? I go and stumble upon the absolutely rotten, absolutely wonderful fact that Mazeppa was recorded in the 50's at the Florence May Festival with Olivero, Christoff, and Bastiannini. My keen intuition tells me Olivero probably did not enroll in Berlitz for the pleasure of one memorable Mazurka with Chaikovsky.


Anonymous said...

>Olivero, Christoff, and Bastiannini.
Wow! And the mezzo is a Bulgarian... interesting!

>My keen intuition tells me Olivero probably
>did not enroll in Berlitz for the pleasure of
>one memorable Mazurka with Chaikovsky
No, that would definitely be po-italiansky. I share your aversion to opera in translation but I make some exceptions (Callas as Kundry!)

Maury D'annato said...

I guess I make some exceptions, too. Or would if I had the cash: I've long wanted to hear the Jenufa with Modl as Mommy Dearest, likewise the Onegin with Jurinac, Dermota, and Fi-Di. Maybe what I mostly don't like is opera translated into English, because I can hear how bad the translation is. Don't get me started on the old Met Cosi.

rysanekfreak said...

I would much rather hear "The Maid of Orleans" in French than in Russian.

I also think "Rienzi" would be FABulous in French. If Wagner really did offer "Rienzi" to the Paris Opera, then there must be a French version of it, right? The Opera would not have performed an opera in German way back then, would it?

Can you imagine a 6-hour uncut "Rienzi" in French? I'm about to faint.

Princess Alpenrose said...

I'd prefer each opera served straight up in its own proper ur-language, thank you.

And don't let's get started on sur/supertitle translations! I despise those atrocities with every natural and synthetic fiber of my being.

(Unless Maury wrote them, now that would really be something!)

ps Callas as Kundry? Did that really happen???

lkzsocy = licking the sweet spicy Szeged Hungarian paprika sauce off of someone you love/lust

Maury D'annato said...

Callas as Kundry happened and survives as a sound document. It's in Italian, the sound is rough, and if memory serves, the rest of the cast is not exactly in her league, and I'm including the conductor. So I've never entirely gotten into it.

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