How to work on the text of an aria/melody?

Updated: Mar 26

Some tips for working on your text in an optimal way...

The first thing I like to do when I learn a new piece is to focus on the text, if it's in a foreign language then my first reflex is to understand it, not just globally but to understand the meaning of each word.

First, make a literal translation with a dictionary I personally use Pons because it offers several translations depending on the context, there is even the possibility of translating whole sentences, the second is to make a more literary translation (more understandable), for example:

Original: "Dalla sua pace la mie dipende"

Littérale: " From her peace mine depend"

Littéraire: "My peace depend of hers"

This is a first piece of work that can take time but will always be useful to you and will allow you not to find yourself in a "dead end" when your teacher asks you the meaning of a word or a sentence.

Then comes the pronunciation ...well ... we are not all lucky enough to speak all the languages perfectly (which obviously remains the ideal) one thing is certain is that the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) can be very useful, it's not very complicated to understand and it will allow you to get as close as possible to the correct pronunciation!

If you don't know what it looks like, here is don Ottavio's sentence in IPA version (to stay with Don Giovanni):

Original: Tutto il mio sangue verserò se bisogna.

IPA: ˈtutːto ˈil ˈmiɔ ˈsaŋgwɛ vɛrsɛˈrɔ ˈssɛ bi'zoɲɲa

... of course you have to know some basics to be able to read it but this subject will be part of another article of this blog!

Of course if it is easy to read, to know how to write a word in IPA is an other story, there are several options:

  1. Learn the rules of the language in question! (i.e. phonetics rules)

  2. Find the IPA translation in a dictionary. (it's long and you won't find everything)

  3. Use the Libretti written by Nico Castel! (fast and effective)

I found his Libretti on Scribd site (by clicking here you can take advantage of 60 days free) you have to do a little research, but it's not very complicated. When your 60 days are over you can cancel your subscription, the site will then offer you to extend for 30 days for free and this over and over again ...

Finally, get help from a phonetics coach or a native speaker, but in preparatory work you can help yourself from Pons who also offers an audio pronunciation of the word!

If in the meantime you want help with your arias or melodies in French, don't hesitate to book me on my website, I'd be happy to help you and as you've read to the end with the code "whyisitsocomplicated" you can benefit from a 5€ discount on coaching!

I hope this article has been useful for you, if you know of other tips/good tips for working on your text, don't hesitate to write a comment!

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