Saturday, September 6, 2008

Doctor Karaoke #5: Youth and Love

The beginning of the semester and ongoing prep for The Doctor in Spite of Himself have silenced my blogging lately, but another karaoke tune has gone up over at the production website. To be honest, this was one of the more difficult translation challenges because, rather than quick-witted dialogue/commentary, Léandre's little serenade features some particularly purple poetry. So, for a brief time in the summer of '05, I too became a particularly purple poet. It was surprisingly fun, and it's a beautiful tune, here sung by tenor Wesley Lawrence, now a doctoral student in opera studies at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

If you're curious, here's the original French, followed by the English.

Est-on sage, dans le bel âge,
Est-on sage de n'aimer pas?
Que sans cesse l'on s'empresse
De goûter les plaisirs ici-bas;
La sagesse de la jeunesse
Est de savoir jouir de ses appas!

L'amour charme ceux qu'il désarme;
L'amour charme, cédons-lui tous:
Notre peine serait vaine
De vouloir résister à ses coups!
Quelque chaine qu'un amant prenne,
La libertè n'a rien qui soit si doux!

There's no knowing while youth's ongoing,
There's no knowing if love is wise.
Time's unbending, Youth's contending
For those pleasures that time soon denies.
Youth is ending, the wisest spending
Spends the time knowing joys that youth supplies!

Love that charms us always disarms us.
Love that charms us, Oh, let it win!
All is straining, vain complaining
When Love strikes us again and again.
Those refraining from Love's constraining
Find the freedom not as sweet as Love's sweet chains have been.

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