Subject: Oh! This is relevant to me. ^_^
Posted on: 2020-11-06 09:21:49 UTC

In the hour when slumber calls
And the cloak of Night dulls the air
I don’t see these stone-carven walls
For I know that you are still there.
~Finrod Felagund

For some time now, over on the Barrow-Downs, I've been one half of a project to translate and perform the Russian Silmarillion rock-opera Finrod-Zong ("Finrod's Zong"). Given that I don't speak a word of Russian, it's been an exciting adventure in Google Translate.

Chained by our oath we press on through the night on the path that our fate has wrought
And any who stand in our way will be cast at our side to the dark we court!
~Celegorm and Curufin

As this is a lyrical project, the 'number of text boxes' issue you describe is multiplied: we've needed to get both rhyme and rhythm accurate, while also translating the meaning well enough to do justice to the original. Sometimes that's pretty easy; sometimes it requires creative reinterpretation.

Feel, o my heart, you are flung open wide like a gate
Feel, o my heart, you are bruised like the bitterest fruit
And you're stunned by summer's late wine
~Finrod and Amarie

^That particular passage involved expanding the opening 'my heart', which is four syllables in Russian but two in English; figuring out what exactly 'stunned by late wine' means (and adding 'summer's' to clarify), and finding an alternative for the idiomatic Russian that Google renders 'My heart, dissolved with bitterness in bread'.

A single wave of royal hand
Has summoned Doom on your fair woodland
We are the hostages of fate
The hapless hostages of fate
And none on Arda can avert it.

It's been a crazy ride of matching the speech styles of the rock opera characters (Thingol is insufferably pompous, the Sons of Feanor are almost Cockney-casual), figuring out which lines are Tolkien references that need preserving - adding more Tolkien references, naturally - and on one occasion rewriting half a song to make it actually fit its place in the story.

Birds without love can't sing their tune.
I no purpose have without you!
The dusk, the dawn, the earth, the sea 
Were but created and set free
So that for one brief moment Lúthien should be!

We're still far from finished - the translation work is done, but we've only recorded six of the 22 songs - but it is at least shareable, and given that it's directly relevant:

Finrod-Zong: The English Libretto

And the videos:

The Russian stage play, with English Libretto subtitles

Galadriel's Lament - The Oath of Feanor - Doriath Duet - The Duel of Song - Captivity - Wind (sung by Kaitlyn!)

Know: love fills my heart with thirst for life
Know: love gives me strength if I must die
And even then, in shadowed hall
I'll face the mightiest of all
And I will take what is and always has been mine!
~Luthien Tinuviel


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