I Pagliacci: Libretto Paperback – Nov 1 1986
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About the Author
The late Joseph Machlis was professor of music at Queens College of the City University of New York. Among his many publications are Introduction to Contemporary Music (Norton) and singing translations for many operas.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The story narrative with the music examples is excellent. I prefer it to a libretto; indeed, it's a much easier way to follow the essence of the story. The essay is magnificent; very well written, not pedantic, and extremely insightful and comprehensible. I congratulate Burton Fisher for a job very well done and Amazon for making these handy, information-laden booklets available. The Opera Journeys Mini Guide Series is a wonderful contribution to opera education and opera appreciation.
My tip: acquire the entire collection because you will be in easy reach of superbly presented opera guides consisting of story analysis, principal characters in the opera, story narrative with music highlights, background, analysis, and commentary.
Heinz Dinter, Ph.D.
Schirmer scores have, among singers whom I know, a reputation for generally being of acceptable reliability but, nevertheless, tend to be considered less authoritative than, say, Ricordi scores. In the rough and tumble of preparing for actual performances, virtually every Schirmer opera score that I have encountered has disclosed some peculiar oddity--a misprint, a mis-attribution of a couple of of words or bars to an incorrect singer, that sort of thing. In the case of this particular opera, for example, the title appears as "I pagliacci" on the cover but as "Pagliacci" on the title page, the generally accepted correct title.
Rehearsals have not yet begun for the production for which I purchased tthis score, but I haven't the slightest doubt that substantial time will be diverted to page 205, upon which appear the words, "La commedia e finita!" They are assigned to the lead tenor, Canio. This attribution is both traditional and soothing to the (sometimes) swollen ego of the tenor singing Canio. It is also dead wrong. Those words are an epilogue as much as the opening words of the opera are a prologue and both are plainly intended to be uttered by the jealous and malignant bartone, Tonio.
Schirmer scores tend to include so-called "singing translations" printed beneath the words of the libretto in the original language. This particular edition of "Pagliacci" presents them in the same font as the original Italian--thank heaven!--and not in the more difficult to read italic fonts used in some earlier editions. Singing translations are not close translations of the original words but instead are paraphrases that give the general sense of the text while devoting much effort to the oiginal speech rhythms set to music and to using appropriate vowel sounds for the benefit of the singers..
The translation here is by Joseph Machlis and dates from 1963. Perhaps the most famous words in the opera appear in Italian as, "Vesti la giubba e la faccia infarina. La gente paga e rider vuole qua. E se Arlecchin t'invola Columbina, ridi, Pagliaccio e ognun appaudira!" Machlis renders this as
"On with your costume and your face brightly painted. Your public pays you and they must be amused. Though Columbine and Harlequin betray you, laugh, clown, be merry and they will all applaud!" Fair enough, but if I were doing Canio in his white face and whiter coat instead of Beppe, the Harlequin, this is the meaning for those famous lines that I would carry in my head;"Throw on your clown suit and whiten your face with flour. The people pay and they want to laugh. And if Harlequin steals your Columbine, laugh, Pagliaccio, and always they'll applaud!"
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