Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 52

Thread: First words in foreign languages you learned from opera

  1. #1
    Banned
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    4,481
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default First words in foreign languages you learned from opera

    Inspired by mamascarlatti's post in Verdi DVDs thread:

    It struck me how bonkers a lot of opera plots are when I realised that the only two words I can reliably recognise in Russian are "love" and "second" (as in "Will you be my second in this duel").
    Is it that bad? Let's all go back in memory to times when we still were getting used to languages we don't speak too well but which we know from operas.

    Mine would be:

    Italian:

    1) "pensieri (thoughts)" - it felt into my ears while I was listening to Recondita Armonia over and over again and then I recognized it in aria from Norma, it wasn't hard to work out what it means

    2) "donna (woman)" - it would be hard not to learn this word. I never listened to Rigoletto but there are plenty of donnas in Puccini (dialogue between Rudolfo and Marcello in Boheme comes to mind, and the act I of Manon Lescaut with Donna Non Vidi Mai)

    3) Mille (milion), serpi (serpents), divorami (devour), il, petto (chest) - these words make one sentence in Traviata and Domingo was so kewl with them in Zefirelli's movie that I had to write down the whole sentence and learn it. Now I use it daily. Someone tells me bad news and I shout MILLE SERPI... DIVORANMI IL PETTO!, grab my frock coat and leave to duel with barone.

    German:

    1) "Wehe! (Woe!)" - probably Wagner's all-time favourite word.

    2) "Schmerz (grief, ache)" - another Wagner's favourite, or is it just that 99% of characters in his operas suffer from große schmerzen im herzen?

    I suppose I would learn diffrent, more obvious words but I already knew basics of German.

    I don't think I learned any French word from opera and I'm a bit into French actually. Perhaps it's because I don't listen to much of French operas.

    Btw, try to learn ANY word in Hungarian by ear after one listening to Bluebeard's Castle.

  2. Likes TxllxT, sospiro liked this post
  3. #2
    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    La Mesa, CA
    Posts
    2,731
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre...
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

  4. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    883
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    factotum (which oddly enough, dictionaries often translate as, well, "factotum" -- but I was unfamiliar with it in both italian and english).

    Knowing French helps muddle through some Italian lyrics as a lot of Italian words are cognates (mano / main, dolce / doux, etc)
    -Ian

  5. #4
    Senior Member Chi_townPhilly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    S Jersey c. Philadelphia
    Posts
    2,886
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default To limit it to FIRST words...

    Italian: questa, quella, piuma, and of course maledizione- honorable mention to giubba.

    French: knew about oiseaux rebelle before I knew about oiseau d'feu, if you know what I mean.

    German- if I had to pick one, I'd say teure

    Czech- pivcecko...(sp?)

  6. #5
    Senior Member TxllxT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Isle of Texel
    Posts
    2,284
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    When Renée Fleming does the song to the moon I 'dig my heels' (often used expression in the US nowadays) when she comes to "Řekni mi" ('Tell me') .................. Beer in Czech = pivo; small beer = pivecko.

  7. #6
    Senior Member Il_Penseroso's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Persia (Iran)
    Posts
    1,469
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Figaro qua, Figaro là,
    Figaro qua, Figaro là,
    Figaro su, Figaro giù,
    Figaro su, Figaro giù ...

    Tutto nel mondo è burla

  8. Likes Bix, tannhaeuser liked this post
  9. #7
    Senior Member Aksel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Norway
    Posts
    1,550
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Italian: Ohime

  10. #8
    Senior Member MAuer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Midwest U.S.
    Posts
    1,595
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Since I was a pre-schooler at the time, the first phrases I learned from listening to operas came out rather mangled. Jaquino's "Ich komme schon!" (Fidelio) was rendered by Yours Truly as "commi-sone." My parents thought this was very cute until I quoted the "Psst! Figaro!" from the Largo al Factotum as "**** Figaro!"

  11. Likes Bix, Almaviva, Aksel liked this post
  12. #9
    Senior Member elgars ghost's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Worcestershire, England
    Posts
    10,453
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    'She is dead' in whatever language - that line seems to crop up more than any other from what I can remember.

  13. #10
    Senior Member Meaghan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Portland, OR (US)
    Posts
    840
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I started picking up German words while doing listening assignments for my first music history class (19th century) and was amused even then by the words I heard often enough to remember. Listening to lieder and opera is a funny way to pick up bits of a language.

    Yes, weh and schmerz (like Aramis said), but also lieb, herz, leid, lied, tod, trauer, traum, and lindenbaum. Oh, Romanticism.

    (Some of those should probably be capitalized. German capitalization is weird.)

  14. #11
    Senior Member kv466's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Hialeah, FL
    Posts
    2,497
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    With any language, I'll usually start with the 'hi's and 'thank you's...of course, the 'goodmorning's and 'goodnights' but then somehow, I start drifting toward their dirty words...childish, I know...still, it is how it is...I Sveikata!

  15. #12
    Senior Member Bix's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Glevum (Lancs origins)
    Posts
    789
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    The first italian I learnt was from listening to relatives, all other languages I picked up from meeting people, normally the typical 'meet and greet' words as kv466 said. Studied Latin, Spanish, French, German, ancient Greek and Hebrew at school - a lot of the ancient languages used to study texts so not necessarily spoken.

    But from picking up bits and bobs of language I can say some greetings in Welsh, Gaelic, Dutch, Polish, Danish, Swedish, Suomi, Arabic, Farsi, Mandarin, Japanese, Hrvatski, Russian, and loads of others - language is just like music to me, I just remember it; I'm bloody useless at faces and names though

  16. Likes Il_Penseroso, TxllxT liked this post
  17. #13
    Senior Member crmoorhead's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Aberdeen, Scotland
    Posts
    760
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Odd that this post appears just when I was contemplating starting my own list of Italian words from various operas. I studied Spanish to A-Level at school and Italian is very similar. Aside from the titles of the operas themselves (Il Trovatore, La Traviata), I couldn't tell you what the first new word was, but one of the first was definitely "figlio". I tend to sit down with the libretto in Italian (or whatever language) and the English side by side so that I can compare them. An interest in languages does help make opera a lot more interesting, IMO.

  18. #14
    Senior Member crmoorhead's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Aberdeen, Scotland
    Posts
    760
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bix View Post
    But from picking up bits and bobs of language I can say some greetings in Welsh, Gaelic, Dutch, Polish, Danish, Swedish, Suomi, Arabic, Farsi, Mandarin, Japanese, Hrvatski, Russian, and loads of others - language is just like music to me, I just remember it; I'm bloody useless at faces and names though
    I always try to learn how to thank someone in their language. Always good to be polite.

    (Some of those should probably be capitalized. German capitalization is weird.)
    In German, all nouns are capitalised. As far as I know. :P

    Btw, try to learn ANY word in Hungarian by ear after one listening to Bluebeard's Castle.
    I have an English version on CD, but did get a copy of it on DVD. I recognised the word for "thank you" in it, but that is the only Hungarian work I know. :P Kosornom!

  19. #15
    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    6,395
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    10

    Default

    Of the major operatic languages - Italian, German, French, English, Russian - I know three. German and Russian I don't. I believe I haven't picked up any Russian from listening to Russian opera. German, yes. I've picked up a word here and there, like Liebe, tote, Frau, Vater, Licht, Zauber, etc. Oh, and Hojotoho! Hojotoho! Heiaha! Heiaha!
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  20. Likes tannhaeuser liked this post
Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Things I've learned from Opera
    By Almaviva in forum Opera
    Replies: 24
    Last Post: Jul-11-2012, 13:51
  2. Languages
    By Yoshi in forum Community Forum
    Replies: 112
    Last Post: Jan-28-2011, 22:33
  3. I am an idiot who spams in a foreign language
    By drpetrmorganes in forum Community Forum
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: Mar-24-2010, 15:28
  4. Writing opera: words or music first?
    By voyaging in forum Classical Music Discussion
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: Aug-23-2009, 04:51

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •