This book focuses on “operatic” Italian (literary Italian in the classic mode) Parts of speech provide the framework, each of which is illustrated by interesting extracts from a wide range of operas. The author proceeds from the simple (nouns and articles) to the complex (past subjunctive) and, following this path, clarifies points of interest: pronunciation, archaic language, convoluted syntax, datives of advantage, nuances and connotation, use of the passato remoto, etc. There are chapters on idioms, the limitations of translations and surtitles, suggested criteria for evaluating libretti, operatic aspects of canzoni, and the pervasive influence of Dante. The meaning of the operatic extracts is made clear by use of an interlinear translation. The international phonetic alphabet and music staff lines are used throughout. Fourteen quizzes with answers enable the reader to monitor progress. Numerous photos illuminate the book and many urls (e.g. of Robert Benigni reading Dante) help orient those readers who wish to explore in greater depth.
Comments from the Critics
Operatic Italian would make a fantastic textbook for a conservatory or university. (Opera Today, Jan. 19, 2010)
Operatic Italian has a rightful place next to the Italian dictionary on the shelf of every serious student of opera. (NATS Journal, Aug. 2009)
Any performing-arts student needs to read this book. (Music Reference Services Quarterly, May 16, 2011)
Robert Thomson brings clarity to the Italian language as used in librettos. (Opera America, summer of 2009)
(…) a finely assembled guide, put together with (…) profound knowledge and organizational flair. (Opera, London, U.K., April 2012)