Chapter published in:Opera in Translation: Unity and diversity
Edited by Adriana Şerban and Kelly Kar Yue Chan
[Benjamins Translation Library 153] 2020
► pp. 135–158
Translations, adaptations or rewritings?
English versions of Mozart and Da Ponte’s Don Giovanni
This paper analyses the various English translations of Da Ponte and Mozart’s Don Giovanni, with an aim at showing that each version tends to adapt the social, cultural and sexual contexts of the opera. From Natalia Macfarren’s Victorian translation of the 1870s to Jeremy Sams’ modern version currently in use at the English National Opera, via Edward Dent’s sprightly text written in the 1930s for the London lower middle classes, Ruth and Thomas Martin’s version meant for a conservative American public and W. H. Auden’s most poetical reinterpretation, all versions resort to strategies aimed at drawing on the new receiver’s culture. Whatever their own specificities, all versions tend to reduce the strangeness and otherness of the original text, offering their own interpretations of Mozart and Da Ponte’s universal masterpiece.
Keywords: adaptation, Auden, Da Ponte, Dent, Macfarren, Mozart, music-linked translation (MLT), rewriting, Sams, translation
Published online: 29 October 2020
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