II. Table of
1. Explanation of the method used
in Operatic Italian. 2. Overview of
the whole book (parts of speech with
examples). 3. Quiz one: identify
parts of speech. Al Chiostro di San
1. Overview of Italian
pronunciation. The International
phonetic alphabet. 2. How to acquire
a good Italian accent on your own.
3. The sounds of operatic Italian:
consonants, double consonants,
gliding consonants, how spelling is
kept consistent, diphthongs. 4.
Stress pattern of Italian: parole
piane, sdrucciole, bisdrucciole and
tronche. 5. The stress group. 6.
Division into syllables. 7.
Suggestions for further reading.
Five characteristics of operatic
Italian: 1. Final vowel is often
dropped. 2. Language is literary,
often obsolete and unusual. 3. Word
order (syntax) is often unusual. 4.
Concision. 5. Ellipses and
1. Nouns: overall importance. Nouns
as mood-setters. 2. How nouns and
their articles are formed. 3. How
suffixes change a noun’s meaning. 4.
Nouns as insults. 5. Some typical
operatic nouns. 6. Quiz two: nouns.
Nessun Dorma! (from Turandot).
1. Prepositions explained (two main
kinds). 2. Non-combining
prepositions 3. Prepositions which
combine with the definite article.
4. Quiz three: prepositions.
1. Adjectives create atmosphere and
develop theme. 2. How adjectives are
formed. 3. Complexity of meaning of
some typical operatic adjectives. 4.
Superlatives. 5. Demonstratives. 6.
Interrogatives. 7. Possessives. 8.
Past participles. 9. Ablative
absolutes. 10. Present participles.
11. Things which you can do with
adjectives in Italian but not in
English. 12. Classic versus Romantic
adjectives. (a comparison of Mozart’s Così fan Tutte and
Verdi’s Il Trovatore). 13. Some
typical operatic adjectives. 14.
Quiz four: nouns and adjectives in
the Brindisi from ‘La Traviata’.
1. How adverbs are used (How? When?
etc.) 2. How adverbs are formed. 3.
Adverbs of time, place,
degree/manner. 4. “Pure”, a
versatile adverb. 5. Adverbs for
comparisons. 6. Quiz Five: nouns:
prepositions, adjectives and
1. Pronouns: chameleon words. 2.
Subject pronouns. 3. Direct object
pronouns. 4. Indirect object
pronouns. 5. Direct and indirect
objects together. 6. Dative of
interest or advantage. 7. Reflexive
pronouns. 8. Possessives. 9.
Interrogative. 10. Demonstrative.
11. Relative. 12. Adverbial. 13.
Disjunctive. 14. Sampling
of pronouns in context. 15. Quiz
1. Exclamations. (O ciel’! Io tremo...)
Exclamations are vital to opera.
2.Kinds of exclamations: anger,
threats, warnings, etc.
Conjunctions. 1. Co-ordinating
conjunctions. 2. Subordinating
1. Verb tenses as a key to character
and plot. 2. Outline of all verbs:
tenses and moods. Table A
(simplified verb table). Outline of
Chapters 11-16 (verb tenses). Table
B (detailed table).
participles. 3. Present tense,
statement (‘indicative’) mood. 4.
Irregular verbs in the present
‘statement’ mood. 5. Examples from
operas. 6. Modal auxiliary verbs. 7.
Present tense using ‘stare’, ‘andare’,
etc. 8. Reflexive verbs in the
present tense. 9. Versatility of
reflexive verbs. 10. Subject-object
reversals. 11. How negatives are
formed. 12. Quiz seven: verbs in the
1. Future tense, its importance in
opera. 2. Formation of the future
(regular verbs). 3. Formation of
future tense, irregular verbs. 4.
Obsolete future forms. 5. How the
future is used effectively in Una
Voce Poco Fa. 6. Modal auxiliaries
in the future and conditional. 7.
The conditional tense. 8.
Conditional forms in ‘ia’. 9. Quiz
eight: verbs in the future and
1. Explanation of various past
tenses (descriptive past, etc.). 2.
The simple past (“passato remoto”), regular
verbs. 3. Simple past, irregular
verbs. 4. Passive voice. 5. Simple
past used in Vissi d’arte. 6.
Compound past (“prossimo”) in
statement mood. 7. Irregular past
participles. 8. Descriptive past
(‘imperfect’). 9. The descriptive
past in operatic passages. 10.
Archaic forms of the descriptive
past. 11. Descriptive past in E
Lucevan le stelle. 12. Descriptive
past used as the simple past. 13.
Pluperfect tense. 14. Preterite
pluperfect. 15. Conditional past
tense. 16. Future perfect tense. 17.
A sublime passage from La Bohème.
18. Quiz nine: verbs, mostly in the
1. Significance of the imperative.
2. Imperative of regular verbs. 3.
Imperative of irregular verbs. 4. A
peculiarity of the imperative: the
second person singular, negative. 5.
Quiz ten: command (“imperative”)
mood. Coro di Schiavi Ebrei, Nabucco.
1. How the subjunctive is used in
English. 2. How it is used in
Italian. 3. Formation of the present
subjunctive, regular verbs. 4.
Present subjunctive of irregular
verbs. 5. The present subjunctive
used as an imperative. 6. Why the
subjunctive is used (principal and
subordinate clauses). 7. Six main
situations requiring the subjunctive
(emotion, commands, necessity,
1. The past subjunctive (overview).
2. How the descriptive past
(‘imperfect’) subjunctive is formed.
3. Descriptive past subjunctive,
irregular verbs. 4-8. Five main uses
of the past descriptive
subjunctive: 4. As a personal wish.
5. After verbs of emotion. 6. With
expressions of time, necessity, etc.
7. In hypothetical situations. 8. To
convey the notion of ‘even if’. 9.
The subjunctive in other past
tenses. 10. Quiz eleven: the
subjunctive mood, present and past.
Various excerpts. 11. List of
typical operatic verbs.
Things which go beyond grammar. 1.
Idioms. 2. Schematic summary of
operatic Italian. 3. Introduction to
Lost in translation: 1. Typical
problems encountered when
translating operatic Italian. La
donna è mobile. 2. La Calunnia è un
1. Things to look for in a good libretto. 2. Suggestiveness,
richness of allusion (Le Nozze di
Figaro). 3. The power of emotional
language (La Forza del Destino). 4.
Phrases which explore an obsession
(Don Carlos). 5. The power of one
key word (Il Trovatore). 6. Phrases
with hidden depths (Cavalleria
Rusticana). 7. Phrases with
autobiographical undertones. 8.
Verdi’s ‘parola lirica’, “the word
which makes the situation clear”.
Ritorna Vincitor (Aida). 9. Quiz
twelve: Verdi’s Copialettere. 10.
Psychological appropriateness and
naturalness of language. Metastasio.
11. Quiz thirteen: Verdi’s
Copialettere, Second letter. 12.
Phrases which encapsulate complex
emotions (Madama Butterfly). 13. The
language of awareness (La Forza del
Destino, La Bohème, Otello). 14.
Poetical effects: metaphors,
impressionistic phrases, etc. 15.
Historical color and exoticism
(Norma). 16. Wit and humor (Rigoletto).
17. The magic of words and music
Operatic features of Italian canzoni.
1. Sento nel cuore. (A. Scarlatti).
2. Ideale (Tosti) 3. Non ti scordar
di me! (Furnò)
Dante Alighieri and his
enormous influence: 1. Origins of
Italian. 2. Dante’s great influence.
3. Specific echos of Dante in
operas. 4. Dante’s terse, dramatic
language. 5. Adjectives in Dante’s
poetry. 6. Dante’s use of the simple
past tense. 7. Dante's use of the imperfect subjunctive. 8. Quiz fourteen:
mistranslations and convoluted
1. Two famous Neapolitan songs: O
Sole Mio and Turna a Surriento. 2.
How to study operatic Italian on
Keys to Quizzes
Excerpt from a holistic analysis of
“La Fanciulla del West” by Mr.
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND DISCOGRAPHY
Books, articles, movies, VCR’s,
audiocassettes. Suggested readings