Hope you had a nice weekend!
Friday evening Stefi and I watched a Swedish movie together on Neflix, in Swedish of course, with Swedish subitles, which were more of a distraction than anything else, but she always likes to have them, even with the endless English-language TV series she consumes.
The film was called Ur spår, which is Due fuori pista in Italian and Off Track in English, for the laziest of you.
I linked there to the Netflix page for the Italian version, not that I suggest you watch it in Italian, but at least it’s a little reading practice, and listening of course. Scroll down that page to watch the trailer (also in Italian), which will give you an idea of how I spent my Friday evening.
Roomie was in bed by then, probably wouldn’t have been interested in a movie based on the world’s biggest cross-country ski race, and doesn’t know a word of Swedish anyway.
But on Saturday, when it was raining outside, she helped me finish two hours of Verdi on Youtube. I watched the whole of La traviata, while she wandered in and out of the kitchen each time she got bored with the other options on offer, tarrying to see how Violetta, the female protagonist, was getting on.
We were watching the Teatro alla Scala di Milano version, because I’d dismissed Google’s other suggestions for various reasons (no subtitles, for instance). I have nothing to say against it this time, so I must be getting more discriminating – the audio as good, the staging was fine in the actual opera house and effectively translated to video/TV, and importantly, the subtitles (in Italian) were timely, easy-to-read and accurate.
One interesting thing, though – with the previous operas I’ve watched in preparation to market our new opera series of ‘easy reader ebooks’, however litte or much I was understanding, the famous song always jumped out (there always seems to be one…) Opera newbie and ignoramus that I am, even I could recognise that this chorus, or that aria was well known – from a half-remembered soccer world cup, for instance.
Whereas with this particular opera, I watched it all the way through and that didn’t happen. Sure, the music was fine, both Violetta and Alfredo blasting it out with gusto, but at no point was I startled into thinking ‘Oh I like that one, must mark the hour/minute so I can mention it to club members and they can go take a look!’
OK, so not all operas have a number one hit, I was thinking, but this morning, just to be sure (I do like to at least appear to know what I’m talking about), I Googled something like ‘most famous songs in La traviata’ and came up with a.) Pavarotti and pals singing ‘Libiamo ne’ lieti calici‘ and b.) Maria Callas wailing ‘Sempre libera degg’io‘.
From what Roomie and I could understand, the first is an anthem to partying and alcohol, while the second is a ‘what do you need a man for’ reminder for feminists or disillusioned lovers.
But, of course, I recognised both of them immediately! So there you go – it’s not that Verdi didn’t have any decent melodies left for this one, more that it was all good!
The version I watched was by Teatro alla Scala di Milano, as I mentioned above. Do take a look. However, unless you already know the story, or have really developed Italian reading and listening skills, don’t be too surprised if you can only guess at what’s going on.
Our new ‘easy reader’ will help with that!
It’s £5.99 until Sunday 11th December.
The level is B1-ish, so it’s good reading/listening practice for anyone at or around intermediate.
And it’s put together to prepare you to watch the actual opera, in the orignal.
It worked for me, anyway.
So what’s La traviata about, besides parties and falling in love?
The ebook blurb is below.
An original Italian easy reader by Francesca Colombo
Giuseppe Verdi’s famous opera is here simplifed for learners of Italian (with quotes from the actual libretto!)
Beautiful Violetta enjoys a busy life of friends, parties and luxuries, thanks to the support of a rich, older man. She sees no need for true love, at least until she receives bad news from her doctor, and is introduced to Alfredo…
Why not begin with our ‘easy reader’ ebook before seeking out a recording of the opera on Youtube? It’ll help! Or just use this original Italian reading/listening practice material to add a little variety to your study program.
- .pdf e-book (+ audio available free online)
- .mobi (Kindle-compatible) and .epub (other ebook readers) available on request at no extra charge – just add a note to the order form or email us
- 8 chapters (based on the act structure of the opera) to read and listen to
- Comprehension questions to check your understanding
- Italian/English glossary of ‘difficult’ terms for the level
- Suitable for students at pre-intermediate level or above
- Download your Free Sample Chapter (.pdf)
This being the first week, La traviata is 25% discounted, so just £5.99 rather than the usual ‘easy reader’ ebook price of £7.99.
Do check out the FREE sample chapter (.pdf) before you buy a copy, though. That way, you’ll know whether the level is suitable and that the format works on the device you intend to use it on.
How do I access my ebook?
When your order is ‘completed’ (normally, immediately after your payment), a download link will be automatically emailed to you. It’s valid for 7 days and 3 download attempts so please save a copy of the .pdf ebook in a safe place. Other versions of the ebook (.mobi/Kindle-compatible, .epub) cannot be downloaded but will be emailed to people who request them.
Have you read/listened to Saturday’s bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news? It’s FREE!