Lily Kass is a doctoral candidate in Music History at Penn, where she is currently completing her dissertation, “Translating, Adapting, and Performing Opera in Cosmopolitan Europe: Lorenzo a Ponte's Librettos for the London Stage, 1780-1800.” She received an AB in Literature from Harvard University in 2010. Lily studies issues of translation in both historical and contemporary opera performance. In addition to her academic work, she is active as a translator of operas and as a singer.
2016—2017 Forum on Translation
Doctoral Candidate, Department of Music, University of Pennsylvania
Translating, Adapting, and Performing Opera in Cosmopolitan Europe: Lorenzo da Ponte's Librettos for the London Stage, 1780-1800
My dissertation examines the translation, adaptation, and circulation of language, music, and culture in Europe during the late eighteenth century. I use as my case studies four French operas that were translated into Italian by the poet Lorenzo Da Ponte and performed for Anglophone audiences at the King’s Theatre, London in the 1790s. My examination of Da Ponte’s translation work in London yields valuable observations about how foreigners of Italian extraction were able to shape British cultural and even political life through aesthetic practices on the operatic stage. This historically grounded and performance-oriented study demonstrates the importance of cultural and linguistic translation in the circulation of opera in cosmopolitan Europe in the 1790s.