Should operas be translated into English?


"The Ring Cycle" is something I remember more than Hobbits and Tubular Bells.
It's something I never tried to watch, but what I'm reading here is convincing me.

I just got done watching the entire ring on DVD (7 disks) from the 1989 Levine set. That is the only traditional DVD production I am aware of and it is a good one.

My ring collection is expanding. Besides the DVD set and the Goodall sung-in-English set, I have these sung in the traditional German (by conductor), the first two being my favorites so far:

Janowski (just ordered so have not heard it yet)

In early December 2016 I only owned one Ring, Neuhold, that came in a complete Wagner opera set and was not listening to it, but I got the Ring bug and now I am ringed with rings. Here is the video that triggered my Ring obsession (2.5 minutes, watch it but beware of Ring addiction):

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John Watt

Active member
Wow! I watched all that, but as much as that,
was seeing "Vladimir Ashkenazy" as conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
When I was a teenager, I bought two albums of his, one playing Rachmaninov, heroic stuff.

How would you describe the cultural background in the Ring Cycle?
I'm seeing and hearing what sounds like ancient, Danish or Swedish,
sorry to be sounding generic, uh, global here, but the spellings are different.
Do "The Bog People" have a solo? I'm soddy to say that.

Jane Goodall was a tall, good looking blonde woman,
who went to Africa to live with the apes,
always in National Geographic as a teen.
That almost could be like translating opera into English.
Oh no! That's right. She got them speaking it.

Florestan! You're doing something I tried but never succeeded with,
embedding a video.
I'm a domain online, and could embed videos in my own domain,
so I'm watching again without streaming, but I can't do this.
I'm thinking of getting a collection of links to get me there.
That would include my own videos I put up on You Tube.
However, with my new camera I might not have to do that.

Hey, I'm feeling operatic.


The cultural background of Wagner's Ring is old Norse and Germanic myths and folklore.

I don't know if Reginald and Jane Goodall were related or not. But I remember jane.

Embedded video is from using the little film strip icon above the reply window. It is the next to last icon.

Here is a great scene from the Ring where Siegfried is forging his sword which he will then use to kill Fafner the dragon who is guarding the ring.

John Watt

Active member
oh no, oh no, I know what it's like to get up onstage for a gig,
when you're meeting the band for the first time.
But I'm looking at this wondering and wondering,
did he have to rehearse every blow of the hammer?
I hear a lot of it is in time with the orchestra,
and it gets tappy when the camera is off him the first time,
when the uh, leper? gets to sing.

Now he's really tapping it small and fast, not like a blacksmith.
You can tell this is European.
He's not making suggestive motions with the sword,
or using it to smoke something.
Who knows? Maybe he likes inhaling dragons' breath.

Wow! He just hacked the anvil in half!

Oddly enough, not like movies where too much dialogue is lost,
the sub-titles really worked.
But you didn't have a male lead, the diva, her friends, one of their mothers,
the villagers up in their second story windows, a couple of hobos off to the side,
the police officer, the mayor and city council, and the live animals,
all onstage, singing off of each other.

I made the Bible prop for a college production of the Salem witch trials,
hanging around with older friends, and I never got to do enough of that.
I also played in the pit band for "Bye-Bye Birdie" and "Hello Dolly".

When I saw the Phantom of the opera, I couldn't see the orchestra.
After a while, I got up and walked down so I could look down,
and was watching, when other people came up smiling and looked.
It was a lot louder standing there. No hassle.
Eighteen players and the conductor.


Ha ha, the wretched dwarf, Mime, does appear to be a leper.

Yeah, Siegfried is like Jethro in the Beverly Hillbillies. No fear and naive. The sword is special too, made from the one his Father, Wotan, made, and the sword is invincible. That's why it can sever an anvil in one hack. Siegfried is going to kill a dragon, then gets rid of the leper (ha ha) and goes to save Brunhiled who was put in a deep sleep in a ring of fire by her father for disobeying him. Here is the scene where Siegfried and Brunhilde meet:

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John Watt

Active member
If you don't mind, I'm going to share some Sons and Daughters of the Gael ancestry.
I'm not going to ask you why you're laughing at the thought of that man being a leper.
When Emperor Hadrian built Hadrians' Wall shore to shore to keep the northern natives away,
it effectively isolated north of the wall people from the Dark Ages, Black Deaths and Leprosies.
My ancestors never went through the Dark Ages.
I got the bubonic plague in grade three when Italian children came to our school.
Crowland voted no to joining Welland, but they appropriated us.
Because of our Scottish nature, and known for being not just non-Catholic,
but anti-Catholic, the city had to issue a Halloween warning in 1957,
saying children shouldn't be taken door to door because of naked men,
drugs being offered to children, rides being offered to children,
with razor blades, pins and needles pushed into apples and other candies.
They said to only visit people you know,
and schools used the indoor gymnasium, or basketball court, for local parties.

It was these new important people on our street, and the other streets,
that got elected as city councillors, some of the worst pedophiles around.

By the time leprosy came over the wall, it wasn't that sickening,
and was non-fatal to, uh, Caledonians, throwing a Roman name back at them.
That's when Scottish people got it.
And when I say Scottish, there are no Scots.
Scottish people are people who fled the mainland because of the Dark Ages.
That includes Jewish refugees who came after the crucifixion,
and all the Knights Templars and Masons who fled Friday the Thirteenth,
and who came, with forty ocean going ships,
with the relics they found under the Temple of Solomon.

That's saying a lot, but that's not only Scot.
The Hebrides Islands, where refugees fled, have never been conquered,
those people have lived undisturbed, and it's not "He-brides",
although that's how they populated, as per their prophecies,
but it's an ancient way to say "Of Hebrews".
Edinburgh is actually pronounced, "Eden-burra".
Scots people never did, and never would, go up against those people,
and the one who let you see eternity in his eyes.
That's some serious DNA to have to pass around.
Just not for Sons and Daughters of the Gael,
when Gaelic is said to be the language of the garden of Eden.
It was nice, 2,000 years ago, for the Hay and Watter and the House of David,
to finally meet. That's when the term "having googlee-eyes" was invented,
and other people started climbing that ladder to see into heaven.
There's gotta be an opera in there somewhere.

I've got some tartans I can wear onstage.

John Watt

Active member
The Sword of Solomon was the most feared weapon in the world.
When David stood before his Lord, he was told this about his son.
He will live his life without any repercussion from me or the heavens.
Solomon will be able to do anything he wants without punishment.
He will live his entire life as a singular man and King of Israel.

By the time he became King, he had over 600 wives and a harem of 400.
He would stop parades in the city to have sex with bystanders.
This was the only time the two States of Israel were united,
because he attacked his brethren so he was King of a "united" Israel.
The Temple of Solomon was the only building completely covered in gold.
Roof, exterior walls, interior walls, the ceiling, the floor, everything.
Jewish Priests saw the cloud of the Spirit of the Lord fade away,
and kept begging Solomon to follow the path of his father.

"The Wisdom of Solomon", one of the most famous Holy Bible parables.
How did Solomon propose to solve it? Cutting a baby in half with his sword.

How wise was Solomon?
Before he died, Israel was no longer a Jewish state, gone forever,
and over 2,000 years later, they call what's left "The Wailing Wall".
How operatic is that?

Here's an idea for some unique props, when it's about Egypt.
When a German scientist read comments about statues in Egypt,
that had a goat head on a lion, or an ibex head on a dog,
everyone was saying it was Egyptian symbolism and decorative sculpting.
When the scientist tried the same thing, sewing a dog's head on,
that's all it took, joining it up like that, and the head survived.
Germany passed a law against doing that.

How about some of those onstage?
I'm hearing some howling with an echoed, bleeting background.
This is the new millennium, and we could do humans.
I'm seeing the Minotaur of Crete, with President Donald Trumps' head.
All those Minoan women of Crete are going to bring him down.
I think the scandal won't be about email,
it's going to be called "Disc-Crete".
That's when Hydra will turn into Hydro and drone bomb his enemies.
When Medea transforms into Media, and starts sending, all is saved.

For the ending, we could have "The Host of Hosts", come down from the sky,
so that "he that hath his host, who is hosted by another, with his host,
having his host and other hosts with their host, until there is only one host,
The Host of Hosts, and His word shall be heard around the world by everyone.
In Proper English.

Everyone should get into that.

aargh! Florestan, it's time to go to sea.


If you don't mind, I'm going to share some Sons and Daughters of the Gael ancestry.
I'm not going to ask you why you're laughing at the thought of that man being a leper.

Well there is nothing funny about leprosy, though there are a number of leper jokes going around, like, "did you hear about the leper who was a baseball pitcher? He threw his arm out." Ok, real bad, but that is how it goes with leper jokes. Actually, they get worse. Cannibal jokes are in a similar order. Two cannibals are eating a circus clown. One looks up and says to the other, "Does this meat taste funny to you?" Groan.

The reason I laughed about the leper reference is that Mime in that video does look like a leper and I never thought of it because he really isn't in Wagne'rs story, but that someone who was unfamiliar with the opera picked that out was amusing to me.


I think there may be operas on some of these things you touch on. There are so many operas that I am unaware of. They even have one for Salome who received the head of John the Baptist on a platter.

Thankfully, Solomon never had to cut the baby in half.

As for going to sea, there is a great opera based on the Flying Dutchman legend. It is another Wagner opera and another of my favorites.

John Watt

Active member
Hey Florestan! What you're saying about Wagner and the Flying Dutchman,
is what got me going myself about translating opera into English.
I was saying a translated remake would make a great Pirates of the Caribbean episode.

I'll just say Scottish, but Scottish people have the best global trivia.

You have to admit, modern day digital photography would make any stage,
any big opera stage, look like an ocean if they wanted to.
That's another thing I think about opera, using modern props.

It's hard to believe now, that the Phantom of the Opera had such a huge, lifestyle influence,
because they were the first to use hundreds of candles to light up the stage.
Even Sting was running around a room full of candles, knocking them down in the end.

I stopped in to visit a buy and sell friend,
and he was saying he was down to $5 for any box set of DVDs.
Of course, what kind of DVDs are laying around here that no-one wants to see,
besides exercise and American Christians,
adult symphony, and I'm hoping opera, somewhere in there.
I've got two Phantom of the Opera on DVD, hard to not buy for $1.
yeah, I saw that in Toronto when it first came out.

You didn't have to remind me about John the Baptist.
That's who I'm named after.
And it will be someone eating Salami who orders my head. Yowza!

Any chance you find yourself staring off into space,
wondering where all the notes you were making disappeared,
and then, suddenly, the face and voice of Tom Hulse is laughing at you,
dressed in his pink Amadeus wig, twinkling away on some cosmic keyboard,
and I wonder upon his star who I would have picked to play the part.
Someone taller, and more elegant, as Mozart would have to be.
His father was.
I see Tom Hulse as an American Englishman, a more puffy, boyish face.
People from Europe tend to have more defined features.
Of course, I'm coming at you from the land of the new obesity.
Porcine people, with a new, interior body fat from eating industrial pork every day,
and all the sucrose glucose, a new fat lining the kidney that never existed before.
Maybe a modern Mozart could go through a weight loss crisis.
yeah, and this time Salieri could be a vampire.

I can see Mozart on Oprah, giggling just a little, seeming to be down,
talking about his excess weight, how tight his wigs fit, runs in his hosery,
when Prince suddenly runs in and jumps up on top of the grand piano,
and starts singing his new hit song while he reaches down to toe the keys,
and trigger samples and loops as he sings.
Mozart starts running and then starts a long slide, ending up under the keyboard,
but when he reaches up from underneath nothing happens,
Prince hasn't programmed the other keys to do anything,
Mozart gets up stunned, unable to play when 88 keys are in front of him,
and that's when one of the musicians from the studio band gets up,
and starts whacking him with a roll of sheet music,
because his mother made him sit and play Mozart as a child, every day.

One of Mozarts roadies runs out, pushing everyone else away,
and straps a portable keyboard over his shoulder,
so that Mozart goes over and starts to strafe the studio band,
hitting some sick synth sounds, his wireless over-riding Princes' commands,
before he hits his pre-sets and starts one of his caprices,
going through the audience and leading them outside for a conga line,
moving fast enough to avoid the New York zombies,
and proving he actually is alive, and isn't royalty free.
That's when he really gets mysteriously killed.
I like it. I could play Liszt, only on electric guitar.
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Edgar Winter was the innovator who put a guitar strap on an electronic keyboard to play it hanging around his neck. So perhaps Edgar is the modern day Mozart. I see Mozart as a party boy and he would be having a good time if he were around today but what music would he be creating? Classical or pop?

Here is the full Wagner Flying Dutchman. You have to buy the DVD to get English subs. This is a KILLER performance. Highly recommended. Conducted by Swallisch.

John Watt

Active member
I've been sitting here for a while, the episode ending just repeating and repeating,
a quiet, almost funereal piece, where it just continues, not hearing a beginning, or end.
What you said, what music Mozart would be doing, became what Mozart could be doing.

Some times... just some times, I stop to think what would Jimi Hendrix do...
but nowadays, that's more about ending a movie scene, how it is seen, how it resonates, how it sounds.

What you are showing here yourself, really says it all.
Mozart would have taken his opera to the film stage, doing it all.
I think our question for ourselves, here right now,
is, would Mozart put himself in one of his own movies?

I see him as automatically thinking he's the composer and conductor,
for symphonies to operas,
so he might never have thought he could be onstage as well.

I really can't imagine what Mozart could do.
You could say he was a child star.
He grew up surrounded by the greatest artwork and architecture.
The greatest performers would be his to choose from.

We all know he worked hard to promote his musical legend,
only showing pieces that were transcribed as complete without error.
so Mozart would be going for the viral video,
and using an electric piano synth with soft echo and phase shifting,
for the first time,
he'll release a meditative, deep blue wigged with hanging kelp,
self-recording called "Sketches of Rain". And on purpose, he won't use any trumpets.

And just as Mozart influenced musicians in the past,
he'll have a more immediate effect in North American society.
His purposeful non-use of trumpets for his first, precedent setting hit record,
just like Prince not having any bass in "When Doves Cry",
creates contention in the offices where Miles Davis is recording,
saying he feels trumpets are over in modern pop,
so he puts out a new album where he's getting all mod-pop-bop about it.

yeah, I can see Mozart, Amadeus, looking out over our global world,
and thinking I'd better get everybody up there onstage,
and show them how to harmonize together.
That's all his music ever did, bring people together.

Noto Von Heft

It is always wise to consider all alternatives,
but the weight of tradition, and the weight of bilingual publishings,
makes this only a concept for me.
We need new operas, even pop-operas, not more translations.

John Watt

Active member
Again, Master Noto Von Heft, I see you coming out online, for the first time,
even if your comment is general, and doesn't tell us about your background,
and why you would make such a comment, saying "not more translations".
Again, I reach deeply into the Clan Watt archive,
to demonstrate your background, and all the factors that led to that horrific musical event,
when so many lives were lost, and what huge architecture and property was damaged.

This I can tell, what music, what sheet music, was involved.
The perfection the powers to be expected, went not only for the musical science,
but for the musical compositions themselves, all new, all about your new powering of music.
Of course, being told that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart only wrote perfect sheet music,
became the desire of you and your scientific team, soon to be called, DerLegibles.
That name alone should provide a clue as to your powering of new, adaptive musical instruments.
What began as musical invention, soon became a weapon of war.

I can't imagine the stress of presenting a musical composition,
that not only is supposed to be written out perfectly, but is perfect music in itself.
You were correct to think this revolutionary boost in volume, in its much louder capacitance,
would affect the listener in stronger ways, even the air surrounding you.
This is the only known photograph of "DerLegibles" at work.


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Chief assistant to the assistant chief
It is always wise to consider all alternatives,
but the weight of tradition, and the weight of bilingual publishings,
makes this only a concept for me.
We need new operas, even pop-operas, not more translations.

Thank goodness for Gilbert and Sullivan.

John Watt

Active member
That is a totally astute use of names, considering the horrific loss of lives,
from the first opera performance that featured new, scientific symphonic instruments.
Gilbert and Sullivan, GaS, were only fancy pants, compared to Noto Von Heft and his lovely wife.
He's not to blame if military applications only created more world wars loss of lives.
The opera the DerLegibles composed was so uplifting, with these first use scientific instruments,
it created this horrific first performance event that caused so many loss of lives, and damage,
turned it into heftier than air weapons, while transforming their names... again....
it's not their blame.

I'm trying to help Noto Von Heft gain full membership here, in "new members introduce yourselves".