è opera che canta

Murphy

Senior Member
English, UK
I'm not sure I really understand this sentence. A musician is describing the work of Mozart.

"Diceva che su ogni nota si poteva mettere quasi una parola, perché diceva che << Mozart è sempre opera che canta >>"

My translation so far:

"He would say that you could almost put a word to every musical note because, he said, << Mozart's work sings >>"

I've assumed that the Italian word "opera" is intended as "work" rather than "opera" in English, but I'm really not sure what is meant by "che canta".

I'd really appreciate your suggestions.
Thanks:)
 
  • MünchnerFax

    Senior Member
    Italian, Italy
    Opera is really opera, not work. It refers to the kind of music. Mozart's operas have such a great melody that it seems the melody itself is actually a human voice singing. This is my understanding of the sentence.
    I'll leave the translation into English to you. :)
     

    Murphy

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Oh, so it's something like "Mozart is opera that virtually sings itself"? (That's a very poor translation that I will have to improve on:eek:)

    Thanks Munchner:)
     
    Last edited:

    arazzo

    Member
    UK
    English
    Hi Murphy,

    I think this is a reference to the mellifluous quality of Mozart's writing. His 'singing style' is often mentioned.
    In this case, I would say that opera refers to his work(s), much in the same sense that we use Opus numbers to catalogue a composer's works.


    In classical instrumental music, a common instruction is to play cantabile, which is a similar concept to your 'che canta.'
    (these are difficult concepts to put into words, since music has/is its own language, so to speak :))
     

    Murphy

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Here's my translation of the relevant part, with a few more sentences to give context.

    Then I remember studying Mozart’s Concerto in G major with him. I remember he had this Mozartian vision. He would say that you could almost put a word to every musical note because, he said, ‹‹ Mozart is always opera that sings itself ››. The violin is the soprano, the contralto.

    Does this make sense to musically minded people?:)
     

    Memimao

    Senior Member
    United Kingdom English
    One of the main problems facing a librettist is to word the opera so that it can actually be sung.

    Certain combinations of vowels in particular, but not only, cannot be sung if pitched above a certain level for example, or with changing pitch.

    What is being said, I believe, is that Mozart's operas are vocally straighforward for the singer.
     

    Murphy

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    I think this is a reference to the mellifluous quality of Mozart's writing. His 'singing style' is often mentioned.
    In this case, I would say that opera refers to his work(s), much in the same sense that we use Opus numbers to catalogue a composer's works.

    I agree with arazzo. Here "opera" refers to the whole Mozartian work, "singable" whatever shape it takes.
    I think you are right, since the words refer to playing the violin rather than to actual opera singing.

    Borrowing from something you both said, what do you think about: "Mozart (Mozart's work) is always singable" ?
     

    Murphy

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    I think there's a definite difference between an opera that sings and one that is singable.
    Yes, but the problem is that I don't know if the word "opera" in the Italian sentence means "opera" or "work", and posters here have expressed support for both possible interpretations.

    Here's the entire paragraph from which the sentence in question has been taken. The particular piece of music being discussed is Concerto in G major, but the musician, who is also a teacher (it's actually his student who is talking), has a "Mozartian vision":

    "...su ogni nota si poteva mettere quasi una parola, perché diceva che << Mozart è sempre opera che canta >>. La parte del violino fa il soprano, il contralto. Mi aveva messo persino le parole di un recitativo mozartiano.....sulle note che voleva far risaltare di più, aveva messo delle parole (per dare maggiormente il senso della musica)."

    Mozart is also opera that sings?
    Mozart's work is always singable?
    Mozart's work sings itself?

    The heat is getting to me, and everything sounds terrible...:eek:
     

    arazzo

    Member
    UK
    English
    It works, but you would lose the image of the original: a piece of work that sings, instead of being sung...

    I agree with this and, because of the context (and to be clear), I think that perhaps one could take the liberty of saying something like: 'Mozart's violin music always sings.'

    [Murphy, the lesson described is very typical; I'd love £1 for every time I've said "make the instrument sing" to one of my students. :) ]
     

    miri

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Dear Murphy, this one is really tough!
    Penso che qui "opera" sia da considerarsi come "musica" in senso lato.
    La musica di Mozart è talmente evocativa da saper suggerire da sola precisi significati ad un orecchio sensibile. L'insegnante associa quindi parole alle note a scopo didattico per far capire all'allievo su cosa mettere l'accento, come se a scuola un'insegnante sottolineasse le parole chiave di un testo (e scrivesse accanto ad esse dei sinonimi) per meglio farlo comprendere all'alunno.
    Quindi concordo con arazzo, ma generalizzerei il concetto, togliendo "violin" e, se è possibile, aggiungerei un possessivo: "Mozart's is music that always sings"
    E' scorretto grammaticalmente?
     

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    Yes, but the problem is that I don't know if the word "opera" in the Italian sentence means "opera" or "work", and posters here have expressed support for both possible interpretations.

    Here's the entire paragraph from which the sentence in question has been taken. The particular piece of music being discussed is Concerto in G major, but the musician, who is also a teacher (it's actually his student who is talking), has a "Mozartian vision":

    "...su ogni nota si poteva mettere quasi una parola, perché diceva che << Mozart è sempre opera che canta >>. La parte del violino fa il soprano, il contralto. Mi aveva messo persino le parole di un recitativo mozartiano.....sulle note che voleva far risaltare di più, aveva messo delle parole (per dare maggiormente il senso della musica)."

    Mozart is also opera that sings?
    Mozart's work is always singable?
    Mozart's work sings itself?

    The heat is getting to me, and everything sounds terrible...:eek:
    Isn't the Concerto in G major a violin concerto (not an opera), so wouldn't that mean that the word 'opera' means work in this context? Or is he speaking about Mozart in general?
     

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    Dear Murphy, this one is really tough!
    Penso che qui "opera" sia da considerarsi come "musica" in senso lato.
    La musica di Mozart è talmente evocativa da saper suggerire da sola precisi significati ad un orecchio sensibile. L'insegnante associa quindi parole alle note a scopo didattico per far capire all'allievo su cosa mettere l'accento, come se a scuola un'insegnante sottolineasse le parole chiave di un testo (e scrivesse accanto ad esse dei sinonimi) per meglio farlo comprendere all'alunno.
    Quindi concordo con arazzo, ma generalizzerei il concetto, togliendo "violin" e, se è possibile, aggiungerei un possessivo: "Mozart's is music that always sings"
    E' scorretto grammaticalmente?
    It's perfectly grammatical, miri. You could also say, "Mozart's music always sings" or "The music of Mozart always sings". Your version is closest to the Italian sentence.
     
    Last edited:

    miri

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Thank you, Charles!:)

    I agree with you!:) Here "opera" means the whole of Mozart's work and the author's name (Mozart) is used figuratively meaning Mozart's music
     

    Murphy

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Quindi concordo con arazzo, ma generalizzerei il concetto, togliendo "violin" e, se è possibile, aggiungerei un possessivo: "Mozart's is music that always sings"
    E' scorretto grammaticalmente?
    Dear miri,
    You are rapidly becoming my go-to-girl on this translation. I had been thinking of something along the lines of "Mozart's is always work that sings", but it sounded so clumsy. Your slightly reworded version sounds so much better, thanks again.:):)

    Thanks too to everyone else who contributed; I will no doubt be back again to pick your musical brains.:D
     

    arazzo

    Member
    UK
    English
    Yes, but the problem is that I don't know if the word "opera" in the Italian sentence means "opera" or "work", and posters here have expressed support for both possible interpretations.

    Here's the entire paragraph from which the sentence in question has been taken. The particular piece of music being discussed is Concerto in G major, but the musician, who is also a teacher (it's actually his student who is talking), has a "Mozartian vision":

    "...su ogni nota si poteva mettere quasi una parola, perché diceva che << Mozart è sempre opera che canta >>. La parte del violino fa il soprano, il contralto. Mi aveva messo persino le parole di un recitativo mozartiano.....sulle note che voleva far risaltare di più, aveva messo delle parole (per dare maggiormente il senso della musica)."


    Murphy, you won't like this :) and I hesitate to write it, since you seem happy with the conclusion.. but after much thought about the additional context above (which I had not seen when I last posted), I think that MunchnerFax may well be right, that opera here means... opera.

    It's possible that the writer simply meant that (I paraphrase) all of Mozart's music is (like) opera, to be 'sung' (I mentioned previously the idiomatic way in which instrumental teachers love to say: 'let the violin sing' / 'more cantabile' / 'more singing tone', etc.).

    The allusion to un recitativo especially (to my mind) is what makes the meaning of the word opera here less ambiguous. A literal translation such as you gave earlier (or, e.g., Mozart is always Opera, which sings) may not, in itself, make much sense, BUT - since he then goes on to expound clearly in operatic terms - I think it could work, within the frame of the extra context which you have given.

    I hope that this is not further confusing..
    ... and sorry for changing my tune! :eek:
     

    miri

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Lo sapevo io che questa sarebbe stata un’impresa difficile e infatti, leggendo le considerazioni di arazzo e poi riesaminando alla luce di esse tutto il brano riportato … mi sono convinta anch’io che il termine giusto è "opera"!:eek: Ci sono troppi riferimenti alla lirica (soprano, contralto, recitativo) a cui prima non avevo dato il giusto peso e che non possono essere casuali. Il senso è proprio che tutta la musica di Mozart è come l’opera, canta. Anche nel concerto in sol maggiore, la musica deve essere come l’opera, cantare. Per questo motivo vengono scritte le parole sopra le note: per aiutare l’allievo a suonare come se la musica “parlasse”. “Quella di Mozart è sempre musica che canta /è musica che canta sempre” (sia essa opera o meno) non è diversissimo da “Quella di Mozart è sempre opera che canta”, ma essendo questo il significato specifico che l’autore vuole suggerire, dobbiamo rispettarlo.
    Yes, arazzo: “Mozart is always opera which sings”
    Don’t kill me, Murphy! Hope it’s not too late
    Sorry, sorry, sorry …:eek:
     

    Murphy

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    It's not too late....but it almost was!;):D I will change it again.

    Thank you all for your interventions in this thread...I would never have been able to make sense of it without you.
    :):)
     
    Top