Translating Western Musicals into Chinese: Language and Cultural adaptations
Stella Sorby University of Portsmouth
Abstract In view of the increasing popularity of translated musicals in China, this paper considers the translation and cultural parameters for such translations using cultural adaptation, dynamic equivalence, domestication and Low's criteria for singable translations of songs with an assessment of the language treatment and adaptations involved in the translation of western musicals into Chinese.
While western musicals such as Cats, The Sound of Music, Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia, The Lion King and 42nd Street, are steadily making their way to Chinese theatres performed in English with Mandarin surtitles, Chinese audiences are becoming more demanding: they want to see productions in Mandarin (Newsweek). Les Misérables, is scheduled to be the first for staging in Beijing.
As a result, in 2007, a joint venture agreement was signed between China Arts & Entertainment Group and Sir Cameron Mackintosh Limited to localise classic productions such as Les Misérables, Cats and The Phantom of the Opera. Mamma Mia! is also to be performed in Mandarin during 2009.
Across the Atlantic, BAE (Broadway Asia Entertainment), which was formed in 2006, is keeping to its promise to produce and present tours of at least 12 English-version musicals, such as The King and I, 42nd Street, Cinderella, Hairspray, at more than 20 cities in China between 2006 and 2009. While touring with the English version of The Sound of Music at cities such as Chengdu, Wuhan and Shenzhen in China this year, Simone Genatt (the Chairman) announced that they will launch the Chinese version of the same musical in 2010 (Sun Yuan (ed.), 2006; Chen Huiru, 2008); Huang Lijuan (2008)). Also, the Nederlanders, one of the big three Broadway theatre owners, has formed a joint venture - Nederlander New Century - which aims to present and market tours and live entertainment in China (Robertson 2007).
Translating Western Musicals into Chinese: Language and Cultural adaptation
The rush of eager producers and presenters is growing in the hope of sharing in this potentially vast market. Over the next decade, more musicals including Miss Saigon, My Fair Lady, Mary Poppins, West Side Story and others will run in Beijing, Shanghai and other metropolises across the country (China Daily Sept. 2007).
Chinese operas, with 800 hundred years of history and heritage, used to be regarded as the number one entertainment form in China. Owing to this theatrical tradition and the popularity operas enjoy among audiences, this paper argues that, unlike some western opera goers who tend to put more emphasis on the music and the singing, for Chinese audiences the poetic and rhyming lyrics are equally important in opera.
Through comparing, analysing and evaluating three published singable translations of the lyrics of 'Memory' from Cats, this paper intends to...