Translating and rewriting Italian opera in German-speaking countries (ca. 1600- ca. 1750)

Translating an opera libretto is a tough challenge that involves numerous considerations: the translation of the prosodic, metric, and semantic characteristics of the original libretto; its singableness; the semiotic connotations of the original music; staging; and the expectations of the audience. For this reason, they have been the object of numerous musicological and interdisciplinary studies from the beginning of the 20th century. Nevertheless, Italian-to-German translations of operas composed before 1750 have received little consideration in translation studies, despite their vital importance for the history of German opera and literature.
The project focuses on different typologies of opera translations: reading translations, singable translations, and complete rewritings. Different textual levels must be taken into account, from the linguistic and musical microdetails of translation (meter, semantic relation between text and music, idiomatic expression) to the more general dramaturgical and cultural aspects of rewriting for the target language and public: addition, elimination and modification of scenes and characters, as well as the translation of humor and political satire, which had to be adapted to the target audience.

Project coordinator:  Federico Italiano, Andrea Sommer-Mathis
Project Leader: Livio Marcaletti
Funding: FWF
Duration: 2019/11/1 - 2023/10/31

Photo: Jeison Higuita © unsplash