Sunday, December 12, 2010

Love the Tunes, Pity about the Words

The Dundee Choral Union is going all operatic this time. We're singing choruses from Aida, Carmen, Madame Butterfly, Die Meistersinger, Tannhauser and others ... leaping from German to French to Italian with all the grace of a slightly elderly centipedic gazelle. There's no denying the tunes are fabulous. And with an excellent soloist (Gwynn Hughes Jones), a delightful children's choir (NYCOS) and the deeply groovy Orchestra of Scottish Opera, it's going to be a very good concert indeed.

There's obviously a "but" coming and here it is. The problem of giggling.

When I was growing up my mother baked on Saturday afternoons, while listening to the opera at the Met in New York on the radio. Luscious smells, gorgeous music, words in a foreign language so I wasn't bothered by their naffness. Also when I was growing up, my father was showing me Marx Brother movies, and sharing his own translations ...

Celeste Aida became
Heavens, it's Ada!

The Toreador Song became
Toreadora, don't spit on the floor-a
Use the cuspidora
That's what it's for-a
Don't spit on the floor
Do not spit on the floor!
Do not expectorate
If you expect to rate
If you expect to rate ...

Need I go on ...

I like to think I've shared many different approaches to culture with my children. Not all my boys are going to make it to the concert, but I'm going to have to be extremely careful not to catch the eyes of the ones that do. Opera is serious stuff, after all.

Cheers, Joan.


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