Tuesday, 10 August 2004

Cool of the evening

The weather was absolutely perfect last Saturday and we found a perfect way of ending the day.

Imagine, if you will, the ruins of an ancient abbey set in a secluded valley on the Kent/Sussex border. Against the backdrop of the three enormous gothic arches of the highest remaining wall, there is an open-air concert opera performance by four distinguished international singers. As the sun goes down in the cloudless sky, you listen to scenes, splendidly sung, from three great old warhorses - Un Ballo in Maschera, Carmen and La Traviata - while at the same time toying with a hint of smoked salmon, a few raspberries and a glass or two of a modest Loire white.

We probably wouldn’t have thought of driving thirty miles to this had it not been for the fact that the producer and one of the singers – the dramatic soprano Jenny Miller – are friends of ours; how fortunate we did, for the setting, the music and the balmy night combined to make a memorable occasion.

The concert began with a baritone aria which is Verdi at his melodramatic best. It is known, curtly, as Eri tu… but more properly as Eri tu che macchiavi quell’anima, which illustrates the difficulty of translating Italian opera into something which doesn’t make you giggle: in English it becomes And wouldst thou thus have sullied a soul so pure? I ask you!


Giovanni Tummarello said...

Nah.. something more like "It was you ruining that soul". Very intense, liricwise as well. /me italian :-)

Tony said...

Well, yes, Giovanni. But I think your translation is just as rotten as the one I gave. This proves my point: that Italian opera should always be sung in Italian.