Operatic Italian

Pulling operatic libretti from
Mozart to Verdi, Thomson introduces the student to word-for-word translation,
grammatical concepts, and the natural pronunciation and cadence of the
language, while unfolding this intricate language in a practical and applicable

Thomson’s main premise for using libretti as source material is that
the language of the libretto is filled with literary, poetic and old-fashioned
vocabulary devices. The current language learning paradigm found in university
language courses aims to teach the student vocabulary and grammar to survive
and thrive in that particular modern country. Basic themes include food,
travel, and paying for a bus ticket. While practical information for the
average Italian learner, music students would be hard-pressed to find an opera
entitled DovË la mia valigia? with which to apply this knowledge.

Operatic Italian is well organized and direct, introducing each
libretto example with it’s corresponding musical score, IPA translation,
English word-for-word translation, and marked accents for atypical words.
Thomson’s goals for the student are to 1) recognize parts of speech 2)
understand verb tenses and their functions 3) develop an understanding of
grammar peculiarities found in literature. Chapter topics of particular
interest to the music student include pronunciation and developing an Italian
accent, understanding what is lost in translation from Italian to English, what
to appreciate in libretti, and Dante’s influence on Italian literature
(opera libretti included).

Operatic Italian would make a fantastic textbook for a conservatory
or university where opera students are required to develop a working knowledge
of this language. This text also would serve as a fantastic source for seasoned
musicians or opera-lovers to deepen their understanding of the language from a
literary standpoint, and bridge the gap from their rudimentary knowledge of
Italian to a fuller understanding of the richness and depth found in classic
Italian literature.

Sarah Luebke

image_description=Operatic Italian
product_title=Operatic Italian
product_by=By Robert Stuart Thomson, Ph.D. Godwin Books, Victoria, Canada. 2009
product_id=ISBN: 0-9696774-7-2