Monday, March 7, 2016

Marianne Faithfull, The Master and Margarita and Faust.

It's funny how A leads to B and onto C in a serendipitous way.

Listening to Bob Dylan's Visions of Johanna on Spotify, I discovered that Marianne Faithfull had recorded the song in the early 1970s, after she had broken up with Mick Jagger and was living on the streets. Reading the wikipedia article on her, I learned that Jagger's song Sympathy for the Devil was partly inspired by a novel Faithfull had given to Jagger - The Master and Margarita  by Russian writer, Mikhail Bulgakov. I began researching the novel and quickly decided to add it to my list of books to read this year. It is considered by some critics to be one of the best novels of the 20th century, as well as the foremost of Soviet satires. Fortunately, I was able to locate a translation of the novel, in pdf format, which I was able to download and convert to mobi.

I'm 1/3 of the way through The Master and Margarita.  The novel has lead me to Charles Gounod's opera, Faust and La damnation de Faust by French composer, Hector Berlioz.

Unable to speak French, I searched the Internet for copies of the librettos for both operas which would include both the original French and an English translation. There were English translations available without the French included, but it is more difficult for me to follow the thread of the opera without the original language juxtaposed to the translation.

I was able to locate such a translation on the website Sadly, the libretto published there is less than perfect. The website does not provide a downloadable pdf. I managed to get around that, however, by "printing" each page of the libretto using CutePDF Writer. Although the website publishes all 5 Acts of the opera, it lists these 5 Acts as being only 4...... Acts 1 and 2 being listed as Act 1. Also, there are one or two portions where the lyrics sung by the Chorus isn't included. I am able to follow along, while listening to the opera, even though the libretto isn't up to par.

The libretto for La damnation de Faust is also available on the same website. I'm hoping they've done a better job with that one.

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