2017 Summer Internship in Audiovisual Translation in Macerata, Italy

Opera with No Boundaries at the Sferisterio Arena

From mid-June to early August 2017, Montclair State student of Italian, Rosanna Coviello, represented the Italian Program at the Sferisterio Arena in Macerata, Italy for a new summer internship in connection with the city’s well-known summer opera season, as a part of a broader initiative about translation and pre-professional opportunities for students. This opportunity was made possible by a $5,000 scholarship provided by Mr. Inserra via the Lawrence R. Inserra, Jr. Scholarship administered by the Montclair State University Foundation with the support of the Inserra Chair.

During the seven-week internship, Rosanna, who is double majoring in Italian and Jurisprudence, had the unique chance to work on the surtitling of three operas (Madama Butterfly, Turandot, Aida) within a translation and accessibility project led by a team of experts in the field under the supervision of Dr. Elena Di Giovanni, Associate Professor of English Translation at the University of Macerata and head of the accessibility project at the Sferisterio. This project aims at creating titles and audio descriptions to broaden access to the operas for both an international audience and diverse able spectators whose sight and audio skills do not constitute an obstacle in the full appreciation of the operas thanks to the work of this team of specialists. 

“I’ve always had a passion for the Italian language and music,” Rosanna shared upon returning to the States. “By being able to do this internship, I’ve grown a deeper love and appreciation for both music and the Italian language. This internship introduced me to a whole new world: opera and translation. Many operas are in Italian and so if I hadn’t studied Italian, working on translating them would have been very difficult. Thanks to my major in Italian at Montclair State, this opportunity to translate operas became available to me. This internship has opened my eyes and has stimulated me to explore more opportunities in the field of subtitling/surtitling and translating at large.”

The experience of living and working abroad left a deep impression on Rosanna overall. In her report, she emphasized the artistic richness of the town, whose region - the Marche - once belonged to the Papal State; the gorgeous landscape surrounding this town, and especially its closeness to beautiful beaches along the Adriatic Sea; the fresh and affordable food (including gelato, mozzarella, and local produce); and its location nearby Civitanova Marche which is on the high-speed line to Venice, Bologna and Milan. Yet, it is the people and the values that have left the deepest mark on Rosanna: “Macerata is known as the City of Peace and these words cannot be more accurate. The people are peaceful and full of life and love. It’s a city where you find beauty in the ordinary things. All the people I had the privilege to work with have taught me new things: with them I have also created friendships and connections that I know will last in the years to come. I hope I can return to Macerata one day to experience again not just the Opera Festival but also the life in the beautiful city that hosts it.” 

The objective of opportunities such as this is clear, explains Dr. Teresa Fiore, Associate Professor in Italian and Inserra Chair at Montclair State: “We want to show the new generation of students that studying Italian creates not only cultural enrichment but also concrete job opportunities in a number of fields. Translating and titling provide a great example of that: it is a growing reality that connects language, art (opera, theater, music and cinema) and accessibility. That is why the Italian Program has been investing on translation in its various applications with the Italian Translation Curriculum and Internship Project for years now. These opportunities are made possible by generous donors such as Mr. Inserra who as a MSU Board of Trustee member understands the current needs of the university system in contact with the professional world. We believe that his continued investment on Italian Studies at MSU via the Inserra Endowed Chair will create the conditions for growing the numbers of Italian students while providing priceless life experiences for young motivated minds.”

The accessibility project at the Sferisterio, which embraced this internship, has reached national recognition overseas: it was covered by the Italian media in articles and videos that also mentioned Montclair State University. Such visibility helps consolidate the relationship established through the international partnership with the Translation Program of the University of Macerata, signed by the two universities last May.

To learn more about the internship in Macerata and read articles about the Opera Festival and their accessibility project, see the dedicated Media Coverage.
Click here to listen to the audio introductions to Turandot, Aida and Madama Butterfly by Rosanna Coviello.

In the main photo: Daniele Gabrielli, PhD student and head of surtitles, Chiara Pazzelli, Audio Description Service, Rosanna Coviello, Dr. Elena Di Giovanni and Francesca Raffi, audio-descriptions and sensory paths.
In the smaller image: Projecting surtitles for Turandot from the control room.
Photo credits: Rosanna Coviello.