Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Merry Widow

Last night we enjoyed the local Light Opera Works production of Franz Lehar's The Merry Widow. It's a new translation/adaptation. Act III doesn't quite match either of the versions described in the linked Wikipedia article. But I liked it.

There's a joke in this version that got a lot of laughs. I'm guessing it wasn't in the original. So, spoiler alert on the joke.

*** recurring gag spoiler ***

The joke depends on the fact that the characters are all multi-lingual in European languages, but they all consistently regard English as "the language of love".

English, you see, is the modern language of science, of business, and so forth. But we tend to think the "Romance" languages have the edge on expressions of romance.

I think it's the tendency, in English speaking cultures, to emphasize speaking plainly, as opposed to high-flown hyperbole. English is seen as lacking in ornament, like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree, kind of bare.

But, in fairness
to English's alleged bareness,
take a good look at a Shakespeare sonnet,
and whether or not you find ornament on it,
I hope you'll agree that it's lovely beyond compareness.

No comments: