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Richard Fleckno writes about English and opera, 1654

June 12, 2008

This extract is from Richard Fleckno’s Preface to his opera Ariadne Deserted by Theseus, and Found and Courted by Bacchus, 1654.

Now the advantage the Italian tongue hath of ours in it, chiefly, as I conceive, in the strength of their words, thery are being composed more of the A and O (the sinewousness of a Tongue) as also the length of them, whereby each one is able to sustain it self; whereas our Language is so debile and weak, as our words die in a manner as soon as born, not being able scarcely to brook the air; Ending also so faintly and feebly for want of length, as they are forced to fall upon the next following for their support, whence comes the difficulty of pronouncing our words distinctly, or understanding our Language when it is sung; which inconvenience to Remedy, I concluded first, That your long discourses, and periods, were carefully to be avoided by us, in Recitative Musick, that so the often coming to a close, might make up in the full stop, our words want of length, and by several reprises more strengthen them. Next, your curious recerched words out of the way of common understanding, were carefully to be avoided, since the main Reason, why commonly we understand not so well when one sings, as when they write, is, because the delightsomeness of the Harmony, takes part of the Attention away from the understanding of the words; whence the words consequently are to be made as facile as may be, the better to be understood.

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