The Metastasio moment: language, music and translation
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O'Connor, Anne. (2018). The Metastasio Moment: Language, Music and Translation. In Chiara Sciarrino (Ed.), Irish-Italian Studies: New Perspectives on Cultural Mobility and Permeability. Palermo: Palermo University Press.
The production, circulation and reception of translations are deeply embedded in the historical circumstances of the society that chooses to translate such texts. According to Lawrence Venuti, changing interpretations of foreign cultures lead to changes in the selection of foreign texts for translation (Venuti 2005). Two languages and cultures are brought into contact through translation and this relationship can evolve and diverge due to varying historical and cultural circumstances. This chapter studies the convergences and divergences in the relationship between Ireland and Italy from the eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century as seen through the prism of translations of the works of the Italian librettist Metastasio. The ‘Metastasio Moment’ in Ireland is charted in order to understand how Italian culture was variously embraced or rejected, as evidenced in the translation, circulation and reception of the Italian’s works. In these discussions, the strong associations and links between Italian language, culture and music emerge as crucial mediating factors in the Irish-Italian interchange. As a central fi gure in the multilingual and intercultural world of music, Metastasio is an important case study to understand the interaction of music, language and translation and the cross-fertilisation of cultural contacts in Europe. The popularity and eventual rejection of Metastasio and the Italianate fashion demonstrate the ebbs and flows of translation choices and the historical variations in cultural interactions.
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