Please turn on javascript in your browser to play chess.
Culture Forum

Culture Forum

  1. 15 Feb '13 16:16
    This is an interesting article by Sir John Barbirolli from 1931. I agree entirely with his assessment!

    http://www.gramophone.co.uk/features/focus/the-musical-highbrow-menace
  2. 15 Feb '13 16:32 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by scacchipazzo
    This is an interesting article by Sir John Barbirolli from 1931. I agree entirely with his assessment!

    http://www.gramophone.co.uk/features/focus/the-musical-highbrow-menace
    His assessment is sound except that, these days, when surtitling is a possibility, opera really should be given in the original. It's not a matter of snobbery, just an awareness that those notes were written to go with those specific words. I've just sat through the most wretched translation of La Traviata ("Oh Violetta, you're looking much better!"; "Think of my daughter; I need to support her." ), and it had a severely negative impact on the experience of the opera as a whole!

    No argument, though, that a truly cultured person ought to be able to appreciate both Tosca and Tristan, or for that matter, both Dickens and James, both Hitchcock and Bresson, etc.
  3. 15 Feb '13 16:53
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    His assessment is sound except that, these days, when surtitling is a possibility, opera really should be given in the original. It's not a matter of snobbery, just an awareness that those notes were written to go with those specific words. I've just sat through the most wretched translation of La Traviata ("Oh Violetta, you're looking much better!"; "Thin ...[text shortened]... and Tristan, or for that matter, both Dickens and James, both Hitchcock and Bresson, etc.
    Indeed that is my only point of dispute. I will always prefer opera in the original language for it does not translate well. I attended a lieder recital with Schubert lieder translated into English in the mid eighties done so for reasons of unsnobifying the experience. Wretched is an understatement! I have always admired clear thinkers like Barbirolli!
  4. 15 Feb '13 18:05
    Originally posted by scacchipazzo
    Indeed that is my only point of dispute. I will always prefer opera in the original language for it does not translate well. I attended a lieder recital with Schubert lieder translated into English in the mid eighties done so for reasons of unsnobifying the experience. Wretched is an understatement! I have always admired clear thinkers like Barbirolli!
    In my experience it does depend in part on the tone of the opera. With something comic, like The Magic Flute or The Barber of Seville, you can translate loosely, make it rhyme, make it funny, and create something that works on its own terms. The difficulty is with translating a serious opera and trying to preserve the rhythms and rhymes of the original without slipping into bathos.

    I think there's a particular problem with translating Italian - which is full of polysyllabic words and in which rhyming words are much more frequent than in English, so that rhymes like "ridenti / pallenti" come easily. Trying to find equivalents to these in English can result in some real absurdities - we just don't speak (or sing) English in that way.

    When T.S. Eliot wrote the Four Quartets he tried to find a way of imitating Dante's terza rima with its interlocking, ongoing rhyme scheme (vita / oscura / smaritta / dura / forte / paura / morte, etc) and found that the English equivalent was painfully obtrusive. In the end, he opted to eschew rhyme after all, but to suggest Dante's structure through a strict alternation between masculine and feminine endings. Apparently he claimed that he had never written with greater difficulty!
  5. Standard member Bosse de Nage
    Zellulärer Automat
    15 Feb '13 20:04
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    Apparently he claimed that he had never written with greater difficulty!
    No doubt his corset served him well on that occasion.
  6. 15 Feb '13 20:27 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by scacchipazzo
    This is an interesting article by Sir John Barbirolli from 1931. I agree entirely with his assessment!

    http://www.gramophone.co.uk/features/focus/the-musical-highbrow-menace
    I remember when Classic FM started in the UK. Before then BBC Radio 3 was the only station devoted to classical music and it was intensely serious and worthy.

    There were some horrid snobs patronising Classic FM on the basis that it did not play the whole of the piece. Others predicted that it would be a commercial flop, on the basis that there was no commercial demand for classical music. In fact I think some were hoping this would be the case. I mean, if the ghastly proles get a taste for this, next they might be turning up at Covent Garden! Civilisation would collapse! I am glad to say that they were proved wrong.

    Just as those who said opera could never have broad appeal were wrong. And I speak as someone who stood for 3 hours in the pouring rain with 150,000 other people to hear Pavarotti in Hyde Park and joining in Verdi's lesser known chorus of 'Put your bloody brollies down.....'.
  7. 15 Feb '13 21:24
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    In my experience it does depend in part on the tone of the opera. With something comic, like The Magic Flute or The Barber of Seville, you can translate loosely, make it rhyme, make it funny, and create something that works on its own terms. The difficulty is with translating a serious opera and trying to preserve the rhythms and rhymes of the original wit ...[text shortened]... feminine endings. Apparently he claimed that he had never written with greater difficulty!
    Indeed Italian is unique. I have a working understanding of although I'd never claim being fluent by any stretch except to yell at cab drivers in Rome when trying to take the long route to make more money or arguing with a a waiter, "Io non ho mangiato pesce, cretino! Ho mangiato risotto al pomodoro!" Of course fish is more expensive! TS Eliot certainly wrote a masterpiece in his quartets. I've always wondered if he had Beethoven's late quartets in mind. Brave attempt on his part to attempt wrirting Italianate English. Perhaps he should have picked Ariosto instead of Dante, a much refined Italian's, Dante's. Florentine Italian of Dante's era was exceptionally florid by comparison to Ferrara's simpler more country Italian.
  8. 15 Feb '13 21:33
    Originally posted by Rank outsider
    I remember when Classic FM started in the UK. Before then BBC Radio 3 was the only station devoted to classical music and it was intensely serious and worthy.

    There were some horrid snobs patronising Classic FM on the basis that it did not play the whole of the piece. Others predicted that it would be a commercial flop, on the basis that there was ...[text shortened]... Hyde Park and joining in Verdi's lesser known chorus of 'Put your bloody brollies down.....'.
    I would stand in the rain for Pavarotti almost anywhere! The demise of classical is always being foretold yet applications to the top conservatories remains high and they are so selective only the best indeed do get in. One of the kids from my youngest's elementary made it to Julliard on a singing scholarship and graduated with honors as a basso profondo. I regret I have never been able to catch him when he sings and this is so long ago I have now misplaced his name. My son attends an arts high school where all sorts of genres intermingle in a glorious amalgamation of the various arts. I love getting to visit because one corner might have a blues band, another a string quartet, while another a group of singers practicing an ensemble number a capella, dancers in the windowed studios, kids painting. Simply marvelous. None scoffs at the others' preferred genre.

    Through my son I've acquired a taste for heavy metal(in small doses). Indeed training ones' ear to be musically ecumenical brings exciting rewards!
  9. Standard member Bosse de Nage
    Zellulärer Automat
    15 Feb '13 21:38
    Originally posted by scacchipazzo

    Through my son I've acquired a taste for heavy metal(in small doses). Indeed training ones' ear to be musically ecumenical brings exciting rewards!
    Try Laibach's Kunst der Fuege.
  10. 16 Feb '13 00:14 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    Try Laibach's Kunst der Fuege.
    Thanks for the rec Bosse de Nage! I'll give it a try!

    I did and it indeed interesting and a far cry from Glen Gould, but Bach can nevr sound bad in any genre or style for he is timeless!
  11. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    16 Feb '13 08:59
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    In my experience it does depend in part on the tone of the opera. With something comic, like The Magic Flute or The Barber of Seville, you can translate loosely, make it rhyme, make it funny, and create something that works on its own terms. The difficulty is with translating a serious opera and trying to preserve the rhythms and rhymes of the original wit ...[text shortened]... feminine endings. Apparently he claimed that he had never written with greater difficulty!
    One a slightly different note, I see by your profile you love Japanese movies. What about Chinese ones? What did you think about "Raise the red lantern"?
  12. 16 Feb '13 10:57 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    One a slightly different note, I see by your profile you love Japanese movies. What about Chinese ones? What did you think about "Raise the red lantern"?
    Well - we could start another thread! Although I don't think there are as many great Chinese movies overall as there are Japanese ones, that's doubtless due to China's much more tumultuous history. There were some excellent films made in Shanghai in the 30s, but the war and Japanese occupation put paid to that industry. Then there was a brief flowering in the late 1940s ('Crows and Sparrows' by Zheng Junli is a famous example) before Mao took over and made it very tough to make films unless they conformed to very precise state dictates. During the Cultural Revolution hardly any movies even got made. But with the gradual liberalisation from the 1980s, the so-called Fifth Generation started to make fine films again, including of course, Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou - the latter being the director of Raise the Red Lantern. I saw it as a teenager, and again recently, and still thought it was terrific.

    One might argue that in the last quarter-century, better films have been coming out of China, on average, than out of Japan. Another Chinese film I absolutely love from the early 1990s is 'Ermo' - a really powerful study of a country in transition from Communism to capitalism.
  13. 16 Feb '13 12:08
    Originally posted by scacchipazzo
    Brave attempt on his part to attempt wrirting Italianate English. Perhaps he should have picked Ariosto instead of Dante, a much refined Italian's, Dante's. Florentine Italian of Dante's era was exceptionally florid by comparison to Ferrara's simpler more country Italian.
    Of course Eliot worshipped Dante, so it was a kind of foregone conclusion that he would try to imitate his Italian! I remember his comment comparing Keats, Shakespeare and Dante. Keats' "Beauty is truth, truth beauty", he said, struck him as simply untrue, false as a statement. In Shakespeare, the line "Ripeness is all", has a qualified truth as an expression of Hamlet's state of mind at that particular moment. But Dante's "E'n la sua voluntade e nostra pace", "His will is our peace", seemed to Eliot absolutely and literally true.

    Eliot thought this made Dante the greatest of the three - an interesting claim, since it poses the question of whether one has to accept the truth claims made by an author to revere him. After all, many great admirers of Dante are non-Christian!
  14. 16 Feb '13 13:25
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    Of course Eliot worshipped Dante, so it was a kind of foregone conclusion that he would try to imitate his Italian! I remember his comment comparing Keats, Shakespeare and Dante. Keats' "Beauty is truth, truth beauty", he said, struck him as simply untrue, false as a statement. In Shakespeare, the line "Ripeness is all", has a qualified truth as an ...[text shortened]... an author to revere him. After all, many great admirers of Dante are non-Christian!
    Have you ever watched clips of Roberto Benigni extemporizing poetry in strict Dantesque style? The man is amazing. he was being interviewed by an American reporter after Life is Beautiful came out. When asked what he did in his free time he says: I am a Dantist! Yank: "You went to dental school?" Benigni: " NO! I am a Dantista!"then started extemporizing after being given a theme. Like an idiot savant. It turns out there is a club in Italy of Dantistas who do the same.

    I forgot to comment on your Sistine Chapel experience. Mine? First at low season with hardly a soul. Spent almost an hour studying it assiduously. This was during my honeymoon in 92. Great. 2004 with kids: we were packed lie sardines after waiting in line 1.5 hours to even get in. This huge mass of people just egged us on en masse towards the exit. We all came out with back pain and neck pain because we did not want to look down while being shoved.

    My wife and I did our wedding in stages. Married in a civil ceremony. Months later a small reception. almost a year later our honey moon. By then pregnant we were lucky to have a wonderful guide in an Italian friend. He took us to a small shrine in Monterchi near Arezzo. La Madonna del Parto by Piero della Francesca, the only example of a pregnant Madonna, was dressed identically to my wife, although my wife's dress was a shorter version of the same style. I felt like I was living art!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madonna_del_Parto