Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0004677, Tue, 11 Jan 2000 08:47:02 -0800

Re: Nabokov/Onegin/LO-pera (fwd)
This, from the opera-list (which is currently discussing the RIPLEY movie
and its scene at the opera). Can you believe that there was a LOLITA opera?
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>Subject: Re: Nabokov/Onegin
>It might interest the list that I was hired by Kalmus to translate
>Onegin" despite the fact that I then knew no Russian. They sent me
>translations in Italian and German to work from (clearly they had faith in
>my poetic/musical abilities, since I had already translated a number of
>operas for them, from French, German and Italian - now available from Belwin
>Since the German and Italian versions often proved to be exact opposites (in
>the "T'odio", "Ich liebe Dich" manner), I bought a Russian dictionary and
>some Berlitz tapes. This was excessively labor intensive, and so I sought
>aid at the library. I had the incredible good fortune of finding Vladimir
>Nabokov's four-volume translation, with its dazzling footnotes relating each
>reference in the Pushkin to events in world history, literature, music, etc.
>This was my second introduction to Nabokov (my first having been the gift of
>"Lolita" from Ingo Preminger, for reasons which we need not discuss). Even
>at that young age, I was overwhelmed. I hope I delivered a decent
>translation of the opera (opera-listers can decide for themselves).
>Oddly enough, much later, the Nabokov connection became much stronger. Last
>year I was engaged to re-translate the opera "Lolita" (Rodion Shchedrin)
>into English from Swedish and Russian, which was possibly the greatest
>challenge and pleasure I've faced in my work as translator--challenge
>because of the difficulty of reconciling the expressive, detailed music with
>the author's exact words (which, as anyone familiar with Nabokov knows, are
>probably the most precise in literature, carrying echoes and overtones which
>cannot be ignored) and pleasure because of the sheer joy and beauty of his
>Ariane Csonka Comstock
>"The Young Person's Guide to the Opera"

Ajahn Bennett Lerner
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