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Italian, and opera question

2551 Views 10 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  graziesignore
I'm learning Italian for an upcoming trip to Italy, and after about a month, I realized I might start to be able to listening to opera, if I learned the proper words. Now I'm not to that point, I just realized hey there will be a point that I don't need subtitles anymore. My question is, how do I go about finding the words I need to be able to understand it properly? Just listen for them, or is there a common opera phrase book lying around someplace I could pick up? I have noticed that singing is a good deal harder to hear than just spoken, in any language, are there any tips for listening?
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Opera Italian CAN help in some cases. A friend was driving in Italy and he was lost, so he approached a carabinieri (policeman/guard) and exclaimed: "Sola, perduta, abbandonata!" (Alone, lost, abandoned), which are the opening words of an operatic character's last-Act aria. (Manon Lescaut) The carabinieri was vastly amused - I'd like to think he was an opera lover - and, fortunately, spoke some English. Lucky for my friend, the aria's language was identical to modern Italian, but many of the most popular operas are composed to archaic, poetic texts, or seldom-used expressions, and strange contractions. Puccini's operas have more approachable modern Italian. But I think you'd be better off watching Italian films to learn modern Italian - though subtitles can be dicey at times. That, and opera, was how I learned my Italian. BTW you can find opera libretti ("little books" containing the words and translations) online (opera Best of luck - buona fortuna!
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