Chapter published in:Opera in Translation: Unity and diversity
Edited by Adriana Şerban and Kelly Kar Yue Chan
[Benjamins Translation Library 153] 2020
► pp. 291–314
Two English translations of Jaroslav Kvapil’s Rusalka libretto
This study investigates two translations into English of Jaroslav Kvapil’s Rusalka libretto, set to music by Antonín Dvořák: the singing translation in verse by Daphne Rusbridge (1954) and Paula Kennedy’s (1998) prose translation. It identifies sources in mythologies and folk tales, and outlines notable characteristics of language and composition in the Czech libretto. Semantic and stylistic shifts are discussed, with the aim of highlighting the impact of constraints under which the translators had to work, rather than criticising discovered shifts as avoidable errors. A summary of the translation shifts found, and their implications for the reception in English of Kvapil’s libretto, includes both critical and favourable comments.
Keywords: Rusalka, Czech mythology, Jaroslav Kvapil, Antonín Dvořák, translation shift, opera translation, singing translation, singability
- 1.Genesis of the Rusalka libretto and of the opera
- 2.English translations of Rusalka
- 3.A comparison of two selected translations of the Rusalka libretto
- 4.Semantic and stylistic shifts in the two translations
- 4.1Act 1: The opening scene
- 4.2The aria to the moon
- 4.3Ježibaba, the forest witch
- 4.4The axis of the drama and the dénouement
- 4.5The final dénouement
- 5.Concluding remarks
Published online: 29 October 2020
Catford, John C.
Dvořák, Antonín, and Jaroslav Kvapil
Gorlée, Dinda L.
1883 Teutonic Mythology. Translated from the fourth edition with notes and appendix by James Steven Stallybrass. Volume 2. London: George Bell & Sons. Available at https://archive.org/details/teutonicmytholo02grim, last accessed 23 March 2020.
n.d. Rusalka (English surtitles – unpublished text). National Theatre, Prague.
Vinay, Jean-Paul, and Jean Darbelnet
n.d. Rusalka. English surtitles – unpublished text. National Theatre, Prague.