Tonight was a dress rehearsal of Washington East Opera performing The Marriage of Figaro. Tickets were only $10, and I hadn’t seen an opera in a while. This was the first one I remember hearing in English, and while the singing was good, I have to say I prefer hearing opera in its original language. I thought about this a lot, and I’m pretty convinced.
First, it’s distracting trying to parse what’s being sung to try to pick out the words and string them together into a sentence. I’d much rather separate the two and have the easily read words on a readerboard or projector and listen to the singing.
Second, a lot is lost trying to mash English translation into the lyrics. You end up with awkward sentences, missed jokes, and a completely different feel.
Third, it’s harder to understand AND you feel less classy because they had to put it in English for you. I didn’t go to Europe to hear the French and Italians speak to me in English, and most of the time I wished they wouldn’t. Next they’ll be putting up cue cards to laugh and awwww.
Perhaps I’m being a little hard. These are just my initial reactions to my first English translation of an opera. The singing itself was good, and I’m glad I went.