This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Linguist, record collector, and translator of opera libretti Walter Stegman hosts.
He plays excerpt from first act of Verdi's La Traviata (performed in German) and then discusses linguistics in opera, he calls the translations a shock: strange sounds coupled with the music.
Stegman then plays the death scene of Modest Mussorgsky's opera Boris Godunov performed in Italian and then in the original Russian.
He then plays two examples of the Spanish lyric-dramatic genre zarzuela.
To illustrate the idea that he doesn't always think that an opera is best performed in its native language he palys Elektra by Richard Strauss in French and in German.
Followed by French art song "Come Let Us Wander Alone" by Peter Cornelius.
Next, Gluck's Orpheus is performed in French, English and Italian. Stegman prefers the Italian.
Orchestral interlude "La boda de Luis Alonso" by Jeronimo Jimenez.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 72647
Municipal archives id: LT3877