The Libretto and Lyrics.

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The Libretto and Lyrics.

Post  MaskedLion on Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:59 am

I always find it interesting how the show in translated when it opens in a country besides the US and England, especially when it is translated by a very good lyricist, for instance The Japanese lyrics are IMHO more poetic and beautiful than the originals. I would love to hear the opinions of others, especially the phans of the Danish productions!

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Re: The Libretto and Lyrics.

Post  operafantomet on Wed Feb 23, 2011 5:41 pm

My problem is that I've heard the Danish translation so much that I know it better than the English original by now. There are phrases I prefer in the Danish translation, and phrases I prefer in English. One of my favourite lines from Denmark is the "Pitiful creature of darkness..." one (spelling might be off):

Du som har leved i mørkret, hvem kender smerten du led?
Gud, gi meg kraft til at lindre all din ensomhed


You who has lived in darkness, who knows (=can understand) the pain you suffered.
God, give me strength to relieve (you from) all your loneliness.


But one detail I've yet to hear any translation adapt, is the elegant rhymes Charles Hart has put into the "Angel of Music" melody. It's a subtle rhyme giving flow to the song, and it occurs various places. As mentioned, I have yet to see this in any other translations - anyone who's spotted these rhymes elsewhere?

Really, you were perfect.
Who is this new tutor?
Somewhere inside, hiding.
He, the unseen genius.
Grant to me (and also "basking in") your glory.
Sharing in my triumph.
Stay by my side, guide me.
Enter at last, master.
Come to me, strange angel.
Yearning for my guidance.
Who is it there, staring?
Echo in this whisper?
Turning from true beauty.
Come to your strange angel.

I only discovered them after listening to Phantom for years. I'm so impressed these are not "in your face" rhymes, and that the lyrics have a poetic vein with or without them. I wonder if translators have skipped them because they're hard to incorporate while maintaining the original meaning of the lyrics, or if they've just not discovered them. It seems to vary which Christines and Phantoms are aware of them. Some Christines has pronounced them clearly, especially in "Wandering Child". Claire Moore and Sarah Brightman comes to mind, but there's probably tons of examples.


Last edited by operafantomet on Wed Feb 23, 2011 7:44 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: The Libretto and Lyrics.

Post  operafantomet on Wed Feb 23, 2011 5:56 pm

Speaking of translations (ahem... that's what this thread is all about...): one of the best translated - or as we say in Norway, "re-poeted" - parts I know of comes from the Swedish title song. Namely this (and spelling is probably off again, I'm doing these by memory):

"Du bara anade din dröm var sann. Han var ditt spegelbil....
....och jag var han...
Ett mörkrets labyrint förgrenar sig.
Jag/Du känner nu att operans fantom finns innom mig/dig"


Translated, with some liberties, it means:

"You only sensed that your dream was true. He was your mirror reflection...
...and I were you
(or rather "him", but I couldn't resist the rhyme...).
A labyrinth of darkness branches out.
I/you now sense the presence of the opera Phantom inside me".


Reason why I took some liberties in the translation is that the translator use a language of metaphors and associations in parts of the lyrics. If I translated it directly I think some of it would be lost. The third line still sounds awkward in English, but it's beautiful in Swedish. In general, the Danish translation, which has borrowed quite a bit from both the German and Swedish versions, is more literal in its approach. The Swedish one has a more poetic tone to it. Of course with exceptions in both of them. The swearing and cursing in the Swedish "I Remember/Stranger" is still a bit surprising. And the Danish TOM has some beautiful phrases which doesn't remind of any other versions I've heard.

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Re: The Libretto and Lyrics.

Post  Loettchen on Fri Feb 25, 2011 12:22 pm

Anéa, I agree about the Angel of Music lyrics. With the sing-songy melody, the creative rhymes are a nice addition. I haven't noticed that same thing in any other language, but I don't know a lot about most of them. It does seem like lyricists go different ways in that song, though. My guess is the English rhyme scheme is difficult to replicate, so most people skip it.

Since I can't speak Danish, I don't know if it's at all similar, but I like the German-language TOM. I get a certain feel from it that I don't quite from the others I'm familiar with (English, Dutch, Korean). Maybe it's because those all contain a line to the effect of "If you ever have a moment," or "Even if it's just for a moment," but the overall tone always seems to me that the speaker is asking not to be forgotten, or begging to be occasionally remembered. Whereas the German one feels more to me like the speaker is telling her lover to keep the memory of their romance as a happy image in his heart, to fall back on when he feels troubled. It also has more of a sense that it's a continuing, not a passing, love, despite the separation. Or maybe it's just me.

In any case, here are some lines I like from it:

Opening line:
Denk an mich. Denk an mich zärtlich, wie an einen Traum.
Erinn're dich, keine Macht trennt uns außer Zeit und Raum.

Think of me. Think of me tenderly, as you would think of a dream.
Remember, no power separates us except time and space. (Keep in mind, we are only separated by time and space.)


"Think of me. Please say you'll think..."/"Recall those days..." line:
Denk an mich. Und quälen Sorgen dich,
Dann träum dich heimlich her zu mir.
Und wo immer do auch sein magst, such mein Bild in dir.

Think of me. And when you are tortured by troubles/worries,
Then secretly dream yourself back here with me.
And wherever you may be, seek out the picture of me that is inside you.


Final line:
Was entsteht auf dieser Welt, vergeht, und eines Tages gehen auch wir.
Doch Gefühle sind unsterblich. Ich bleib' nah bei dir!

Everything which comes into being in this world must also leave it, and one day we will leave it too.
But feelings are eternal. I'll stay near to you.

I always find that line difficult to translate without sounding awkward, because the German is so succint while the English is so unwieldy, but I've always liked that line, even though the sentiment is not that different from other productions/translations.

I also rather like this line from the Dutch:
Denk aan mij; blijf aan mij denken, als je vroeg ontwaakt.
Bedenk dan ook, dat ik in dromen je nooit ben kwijtgeraakt.

Think of me; continue to think of me, as you awake in the early hours of the morning.
And think about this: that in my dreams, I never lost you.

I hope that's right. I'm not as good at Dutch! X) Of course, all of them take some liberties to make them sound less awkward!


Last edited by Loettchen on Fri Feb 25, 2011 4:04 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: The Libretto and Lyrics.

Post  operafantomet on Fri Feb 25, 2011 12:55 pm

Loettchen, although I've heard the German version many times, I never realized it was that poetic! That is beautiful. I agree about the "please do not forget me" tone the lyrics have. The Danish one seems more like an accept of eternal separation, and a promise still of love. The phrase I like the best from the Danish translation is the "Think of me, think of me waking silent and resigned..." one. Again excuse bad Danish spelling and eventual liberties in translating it back into English:

Jeg må nu, jeg må nu leve med et stille savn
For meg er du den, der har gived kærligheden navn
Minner ja, de vil vi altid ha'
Selv om vi skilles, du og jeg
Er der ingen dag, min tanke ikke er hos dig!


Now I must.. I must live with this silent/muted longing
To me you are the one who gave love a name
Memories, yes... those we'll always have
Though we might be separated, you and I
There'll never be a day where my thoughts are not with you


Illusion, skønt alt var illusion, og kun en overfaldisk leg
Må du love du vil tenke... i et glimt... på mig.


Illusion, though it was all illusions, and but a mere shallow game (very in sync with Leroux, this one)
Promise me you'll think... if only for a brief second... of me.

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Re: The Libretto and Lyrics.

Post  Loettchen on Fri Feb 25, 2011 5:19 pm

Ah, I see what you mean! Those lines from the Danish are absolutely beautiful! Reminds me a little of IamErik771's translation of the Japanese TOM, which seems quite melancholy.

It's funny how touching a song can be, despite not technically being sung by any of the characters, since it's really just a song in the opera. Although, of course, it's also a symbolic reference to Christine and Raoul, and perhaps a little foreshadowing.

Interestingly, for a language which is so different from English in so many ways (and is structurally quite similar to Japanese), the Korean translation is extremely direct. It follows the English almost line for line.

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Re: The Libretto and Lyrics.

Post  Phantomlove on Fri Feb 25, 2011 11:06 pm

I'm very partial to both the Danish and the Swedish lyrics. I like the poetic touch and also the brutal, cruel touch that the Swedish lyrics have. When it comes to the Danish I kinda like hearing a differrent Scandinavian take on the lyrics. I also think some of them are very beautiful.

I don't think the swearing/cursing in Stranger than you dreamt it is more surprising in Swedish than it is in English. He isn't using a vulgar or crude swearword actually, I would say it's more of an elegant one. However, the managers are using a rather vulgar swearword in the first Notes scene in the Swedish production and that still bothers me a bit though I'm used to it now.

I hadn't noticed the rhymes that are in Angel of Music until you pointed them out Operafantomet. I mean, I realised some kinda rhymed, but I didn't realised that it was actually some really clever thinking behind it and that it is in many places in the lyrics for this melody. It's very nice and sounds really good.

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Re: The Libretto and Lyrics.

Post  IamErik771 on Sat Feb 26, 2011 8:29 pm

Loettchen wrote:Ah, I see what you mean! Those lines from the Danish are absolutely beautiful! Reminds me a little of IamErik771's translation of the Japanese TOM, which seems quite melancholy.

Did somebody call me? Very Happy

I agree, those translations for the Swedish, Danish, Dutch, and German lyrics are really beautiful. And yeah, it took me a while to notice that rhyme scheme in the English version of "Angel of Music" (and its many reprises). That's one of the many quibbles I had with the movie -- they changed Meg's line from "new tutor" to "great tutor," thus ruining the consistency of the rhyme scheme. Kind of a small thing compared to all my other issues with the movie, but still... (In fact, if I remember correctly, it was that "screw-up" that made me realize there was a rhyme scheme there to begin with, so maybe in that way, it wasn't such a terrible thing. Laughing)

It was a lot of fun to translate the Japanese lyrics (which can be viewed here at the webpage I set up for it, and also on a subpage of Sylent Phantom's site "Phantom's Theater," where you can view the 3 sets of lyrics side by side). I found a lot of them to be really gorgeous translations. Some of my favorite bits...

~~~

- "Little Lotte" is translated as "Lovely Lotte," though it could also be read as "cute," "pretty," "adorable," or any other similar term in the dressing room scene. In the graveyard scene, though, she becomes "Lonely Lotte." Also, in the dressing room scene, the "No, what I loved best, Lotte said..." line becomes "What I loved most of all was when I would lay down to sleep/And that song came to me as a whisper/Yes, the Angel of Music's voice."

- In MOTN, the line "Floating, falling, sweet intoxication" is rendered as "Watashi ni yudanete hoshii" -- either "I want you to trust me" or "I want you to devote yourself to me." And later in the song (rather than "Let the dream begin..."), the Phantom sings "The darkness will bend to my power; to my music..." The whole song is extremely well-done and very poetic. Instead of "The Music of the Night," it becomes "The Melody of Night;" the night is music to him.

- In STYDI, the Phantom (who, for most of the score, seems to have very gentle lyrics and dialogue compared to most other translations) quite explicitly tells Christine to "go to hell." Twice. (And that phrase is considered extremely harsh in Japanese culture -- it could never be used lightly or jokingly as it sometimes is in English, as it's basically the equivalent of saying "F*** off and die.") Also, the word "akutou" (which I translated as "villain," the most common definition) can be read as just about any insulting term -- I've heard interpretations that he's calling her something that rhymes with "witch" in that part.

- I adore how "Prima Donna" is done. From "Yes, Prima Donna, Brava!" (rather than "Sing, Prima Donna, once more!") to Carlotta's boasts that she's immortal and her song will reach the heavens, to the Girys' view of the Phantom as almost godlike, to the managers finishing each other's sentences (not only here, but throughout the show) to a far greater extent than in the English version. (Mme. Giry and Meg do a bit of that at certain points, too.) And then at the end with the Phantom's threat -- "A disaster beyond imagination will swoop down on you!" Just perfect.

- The "godlike" view of the Phantom is also referenced in the rooftop scene, when Raoul refers to him as a "shinigami" -- the Japanese personification of Death or the Grim Reaper. The term literally translates to "god/spirit of death." And I definitely approve of Christine's description of the Phantom's face as "corpselike."

- Raoul comes across as much more sympathetic at certain points... for example, in AIAOY, he says to Christine "You are everything" (which the Phantom later echoes). And in the final lair scene, rather than "Say you love him and my life is over..." he's a lot more consoling: "Even if my life ends here, I'll live on in my love for you."

- The Phantom's lines in the "All I Ask" reprise, rather than "I gave you my music, made your song take wing..." become "I gave you love; I gave you music... And this is what I get in return?" Gorgeously heartbreaking, especially when the actor puts the right emphasis on it.

~~~

Heh heh... that's quite a bit. I may bring up some other things I really liked in a future post.

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Re: The Libretto and Lyrics.

Post  Loettchen on Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:21 am

IamErik771 wrote:
Loettchen wrote:Ah, I see what you mean! Those lines from the Danish are absolutely beautiful! Reminds me a little of IamErik771's translation of the Japanese TOM, which seems quite melancholy.

Did somebody call me? Very Happy

I'm glad you came in here, cause I really enjoyed your translations. Thanks for taking all the effort to get them posted.

It was so interesting to read your comments, both here and on the other thread, because I had always wondered about the Japanese lyrics. I once found someone discussing the translation of MOTN and complaining that, in the writer's opinion, the Japanese lyrics were stilted and old-fashioned. That was all I ever heard about it. Until now, of course. Very interesting to read about!

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Re: The Libretto and Lyrics.

Post  IamErik771 on Sat Mar 16, 2013 5:07 am

Loettchen wrote:
IamErik771 wrote:
Loettchen wrote:Ah, I see what you mean! Those lines from the Danish are absolutely beautiful! Reminds me a little of IamErik771's translation of the Japanese TOM, which seems quite melancholy.

Did somebody call me? Very Happy

I'm glad you came in here, cause I really enjoyed your translations. Thanks for taking all the effort to get them posted.

It was so interesting to read your comments, both here and on the other thread, because I had always wondered about the Japanese lyrics. I once found someone discussing the translation of MOTN and complaining that, in the writer's opinion, the Japanese lyrics were stilted and old-fashioned. That was all I ever heard about it. Until now, of course. Very interesting to read about!

Wow, am I late to reply. Shocked

In a way, the lyrics are intentionally old-fashioned. The Japanese lyrics for POTO actually use a (mostly) period-accurate dialect -- the translator did his best to approximate how people actually spoke in the 1880s in Japan, though in some cases, he had to fudge it a bit to fit the singing requirements of the show. Thus, for viewers who aren't used to it (i.e. haven't watched lots of Japanese period dramas), the language in the show might be tricky to understand, or it may come off as a bit stuffy.

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