November 24, 2011

Why is Opera best in Sanskrit?


November 24, 2011

Stephen Joshua Sondheim, the Academy, Grammy and Tony Awards winning American composer, has declared Sanskrit to be the best language for composing an Opera. In his latest book, Look I Made a Hat, the 80-year-old Pulitzer Prize winner declares that the Indo-Aryan language is best suited for an opera libretto.

Sanskrit, he says, has the two necessary qualities — it utilises predominantly open vowel sounds and the language doesn’t make the listener try to understand the language.He explains, “With Sanskrit, you are relieved of every bit of concentration except where it counts: on the music and the singing and, if you’re interested in the story, on the surtitles. Even librettos in English need surtitles, since distended vowels, vocal counterpoint and the overtrained diction of many performers make it difficult to understand. Every librettist should have a smattering of Sanskrit. It will save them, and their audiences, a huge amount of work.”

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