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Translation of Texts

PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2016 6:35 pm
by ariel_ilan

I am troubled by the challenge of finding good translations for Wagner's music dramas. I do have the Spencer Ring translations and am happy with them, and the ENO guides to Tannhauser, Tristan and Lohengrin, and not happy with their non-literal nature. Does anybody have a suggestion for texts and translations? - I am shocked, to be honest, that there is not a one volume Wagner Texts and Translations...Norton has a volume of Verdi and Puccini, I wonder why not Wagner.

Re: Translation of Texts

PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 8:43 pm
by feuerzauber
This response won’t help you find the book you seek, but it may try to explain its absence.

In the days before opera box sets of LP disks, you could always find in the regular bookstores exactly what you now request: “a single volume Wagner Texts and Translations”.

Crown (New York) published a three-volume series called The Authentic Librettos, which gave:
“complete English and German/Italian/French parallel texts, together with music (for piano) of the principal airs”.

Crown’s editions set the stylistic standard pursued by record producers Decca, DGG, etc. for their printed box-set librettos.

Crown seems to have kept their three-volume opera libretto series in continuous print through to the 1960s. The English translations date from the late 19th and early 20th century. The Authentic Librettos of the Wagner Operas is copyright (1938).

Here’s the opening of Tristan. Because the young sailor’s song is deemed to be a “principal air”, it appears in piano score.

(from above as if at the mast-head) . . . . .(aus der Höhe wie vom Maste her, vernehmbar).

. . . Woe, ah, woe for my child! . . . . .. . . Weh , ach, wehe, mein Kind!
. . . O Irish maid! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Irische Maid!
. . . my winsome, marvellous maid! . . . . . du wilde, minige Maid!

Then the parallel texts commence...

ISOLDA (staring up suddenly) . . . . . . . . . . . ISOLDE (jäh auffahrend).
. . . What wight dares insult me? . . . . . . . . . . Wer wagt mich zu höhnen?—
. . . (She looks round in agitation) . . . . . . . . . .(Sie blickt verstört um sich)
. . . Brangæna, ho! Say, where sail we? . . . . . . Brangäne, du?—Sag’, wo sind wir?

. . . etc.

Uncertain as to whether these singable (and so literal within the constraints of singability and Wagnerian alliteration) translations from Edwardian times are to your taste.

But to continue. A glimpse at the operas in the series gives us a feel for operatic tastes of those times:

    Wagner Operas — Dutchman, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Tristan, Meistersinger, Ring, Parsifal.

    French and German Operas — Carmen, Manon, Hoffmann, Lakmé, Hansel & Gretel, Romeo & Juliet, Fidelio, Magic Flute, Mignon, Samson & Delilah, Bartered Bride.

    Italian Operas — Aida, Cavalleria Rusticana, Forza del Destino, Lucia di Lammermoor, Rigoletto, Barber of Seville, Don Giovanni, Gioconda, Pagliacci, Traviata, Trovatore.
Good luck in tracking down the Crown “Authentic Librettos of the Wagner Operas".

Re: Translation of Texts

PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 11:33 pm
by feuerzauber
I should have checked availability first... I’ve just searched Amazon. It lists 22 hard cover versions starting from $3.35 ... B0006AOA1Y

This page links to other libretto collections (including all three Authentic Librettos volumes from $1.53).