Montclair State Expands Titling Collaboration with Prescott Studio

Students of Italian will continue to translate and title voices across continents

From May to October 2015, students of Italian produced the English surtitles for nine plays and operas presented at the renowned Piccolo Teatro of Milan as part of Expo 2015. The innovative program, “Titling Voices Across Continents,” was the result of a partnership with the Florence-based titling agency Prescott Studio (see video).

Following the success of this initial project, the Montclair State University Inserra Chair in Italian and American Studies is continuing the collaboration with Prescott Studio by providing surtitling for upcoming performances in Florence and Rome. Students, under the guidance of Italian professor Dr. Marisa Trubiano, will provide English translations of scripts and libretti for two very prestigious venues: Opera di Firenze/Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence, Italy and for Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera di Roma. They will work on such operas as:

La cenerentola (by Gioachino Rossini)
Benvenuto Cellini
(by Hector Berlioz
Il trittico (by Giacomo Puccini)
Linda di Chamounix (by Gaetano Donizetti)
Un ballo in maschera (by Giuseppe Verdi)
La voix humaine/Suor Angelica (by Francis Poulenc/Giacomo Puccini)
L'italiana in Algeri (by
Gioachino Rossini)
El amor brujo/Goyescas (by Manuel de Falla/Enric Granados)
Les pecheurs de perles (by Georges Bizet)

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“While the formula continues to provide exceptional learning opportunities for advanced students on campus, it will now include additional off-campus learning experiences“ says Inserra Chair and Italian professor Dr. Teresa Fiore. As Fiore explains, after offering round table panels, in-class presentations, and internships in the form of Coop Education courses in 2015, the program is expanding to offer an internship in Italy scheduled for the coming summer, next to a post-BA assistantship for the spring on campus.

“The great synergy between Prescott Studio and the Inserra Chair/Italian program at Montclair State is the secret of this project’s success,” says Mauro Conti, director of Prescott Studio.

An International Production

“We identified an ideal tool to expose students of Italian to a dynamic professional sector in the humanities, which enhances their employability in our global marketplace,” says Fiore. “By continuing our partnership with Prescott Studio, we have created another opportunity to make students’ classroom work relevant and useful to the outside world – in this case world-class theaters in Rome and in Florence.”

In spring and fall 2015, students gained hands-on experience in a sector of the translating field that honed their linguistic, cultural and translating skills in English and Italian. “I think our students can be very proud of their successful linguistic acrobatics in translating texts for Expo 2015 performances of the epic Lehman Trilogy, Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo’s La Storia di Qui and Enzo Moscato’s Neapolitan version of Bizet’s Carmen,” says Trubiano.

For the students, the initial project was a memorable experience. “It was a wonderful opportunity to combine the study of Italian language and the specifics of the theatrical world,” explains Marta Russoniello. “I gained an insight into the Italian language and its various dialects, which deepened the knowledge I’ve acquired in class.”

Italian major Angelene Agresta agrees. “I enjoyed the challenge of translating from Italian into English, and of maintaining not only the meaning but the nuances of the original texts,” she recalls. Agresta will continue her involvement in the partnership: as post-BA assistant, she will work under the supervision of Trubiano on editing surtitles for four operas for Prescott Studio and the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma and the Opera di Firenze. 

Informative Workshops

During the fall of 2015, a series of in-class talks have been organized by the Inserra Chair to expose students of Italian to different approaches on titling and translating. The talks, held by well-known professionals in the field such as Michael Moore, Elena Di Giovanni and Mauro Conti (via videoconference from Italy), focused on the translation of a “pop novel” in terms of language and culture, the use of sub- and sur-titles for the accessibility for TV and cinema, and the strategies for surtitling live theater, respectively.

Dr. Trubiano comments: “The in-class series of lectures on translation provided students with the opportunity to collaborate directly with experts in the fields of literary translation, interpreting, subtitling and surtitling in Italy and the New York area. In the hands-on workshops, students prepared their own target texts from a contemporary novel, play and classic film, received important feedback and then applied the principles and best practices of translation that they learned to specific projects that spanned the translation of poetry and prose, children's literature, consumer texts, songs, videos, and exercises in audiodescription. A recurring theme that was of particular interest to students was cultural transposition, and the degree to which translators choose to "domesticate" or "foreignize" the source text's idiolects, sociolects, dialects, and cultural references for the receiving culture.”

The concluding moment of the series also functioned as the celebration of TVAC: the Inserra Chair together with the Center for Translation and Interpreting and the Global Education Center at Montclair State presented a workshop about the techniques and technologies used for the “Titling Voices Across Continents” projects, on December 11, 2015. Focusing on select materials produced for the Milan performances, international and local guest speakers talked about titling techniques used for live shows.

“Theater unites the stage and the audience,” says Conti. “Once again, two continents and two cultural and professional realities will be able to make a journey together.”

Finally, the titling project will land back "home" with the presentation of Le Sorelle Macaluso, a play by Emma Dante that was translated and titled by the students and will be held at the Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University (date TBA).