Godwin Books
George Godwin l Robert Thomson l How to Order
Operatic Italian

II. Table of Contents

Chapter One 
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 Giusto.

Chapter Two 
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: vowels, semivowels, 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.

Chapter Three
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 pleonasms.

Chapter Four
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). 

Chapter Five
1. Prepositions explained (two main kinds). 2. Non-combining prepositions 3. Prepositions which combine with the definite article. 4. Quiz three: prepositions. 

Chapter Six
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’.

Chapter Seven
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 adverbs.

Chapter Eight
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 six: pronouns.

Chapter Nine
1. Exclamations. (O ciel’! Io tremo...) Exclamations are vital to opera. 2.Kinds of exclamations: anger, threats, warnings, etc.

Chapter Ten
Conjunctions. 1. Co-ordinating conjunctions. 2. Subordinating conjunctions.

Chapter Eleven
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). Conjugations, infinitives, 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 present tense.

Chapter Twelve
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 conditional tense.

Chapter Thirteen
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 past.

Chapter Fourteen
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.

Chapter Fifteen
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, etc.).

Chapter Sixteen 
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.

Chapter Seventeen
Things which go beyond grammar. 1. Idioms. 2. Schematic summary of operatic Italian. 3. Introduction to chapters 18-22.

Chapter Eighteen
Lost in translation: 1. Typical problems encountered when translating operatic Italian. La donna è mobile. 2. La Calunnia è un venticello.

Chapter Nineteen
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 together.

Chapter Twenty
Operatic features of Italian canzoni. 1. Sento nel cuore. (A. Scarlatti). 2. Ideale (Tosti) 3. Non ti scordar di me! (Furnò)

Chapter Twenty-One
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 verses.

Chapter Twenty-Two
1. Two famous Neapolitan songs: O Sole Mio and Turna a Surriento. 2. How to study operatic Italian on your own.

Keys to Quizzes

Excerpt from a holistic analysis of “La Fanciulla del West” by Mr. Albert Innaurato.

Books, articles, movies, VCR’s, audiocassettes. Suggested readings and viewings.

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