Archive for Spanish Diction

Episode 37

Posted in Podcasts, Spanish Diction by thedictionpolice on June 13th, 2011

This week, Spanish bel canto tenor José Bros works through the texts of "La maja y el ruiseñor" and "La maja dolorosa No. 3" with us. We're concentrating on diphthongs and other instances when vowels in Spanish come together, which happens quite a lot! We also talk about the difference between [nj] and [ɲ].

Here is the text for Enrique Granados' Goyescas (this libretto is sideways, so it's probably easier to print out to read!); the aria "La maja y el ruiseñor" starts Cadro III on page 28. The text for "La maja dolorosa No. 3" is here. For anyone interested in seeing Francisco Goya's paintings of Majos and Majas, this website contains photos of his complete works online.

The idea for this podcast came from a posting on the Facebook page--I really do take suggestions and questions seriously, so please keep asking! I may not be able to honor all requests, but I do try to use the ideas that people have. Please feel free to contact me here, at the Facebook page or directly at


Episode 30

Posted in Podcasts, Spanish Diction by thedictionpolice on March 14th, 2011

Castilian Spanish is our focus this week, with Basque soprano Vanessa Goikoetxea. Our texts for today are the Zarzuela tenor aria "No puede ser" and the Obradors song "Al amor". This time we are concentrating on the S, C and Z, and the LL in Castilian Spanish.

The text for "No puede ser" can be found here, as well as a brief history of Zarzuela and a short biography of the composer, Pablo Sorozábal. The text to "Al amor" can be found at the Lied and Art Song Texts Page, and I found the original Catullus poem that it's based on, as well as a blog in Spanish that compares the two poems, and includes another modern translation of the Latin.

The Basque language (Euskera) pre-dates Indo-European languages, and is considered a language isolate, since it has no grammatic connection to the languages that surround it. The Basque composer Vanessa mentioned were Jesús Guridi and Aita Donostia, and I found a few Youtube clips for both of them: the Finale of El Caserio and the song Alla arriba en equella montana by Guridi and choral pieces Adios Ene Maitea for men's choir and Agur Maria for women's choir by Donostia.

As always, please feel free to contact me with and questions or comments here, on the Facebook page, or directly at


Episode 20

Posted in Podcasts, Spanish Diction by thedictionpolice on October 15th, 2010

Episode 20 is our first discussion of Spanish Lyric Diction, with Pablo Assante, the chorus master at the Semperoper in Dresden. We discuss some of the differences between Spanish and Italian, as well as the differences between Castilian and Argentinean Spanish, the letters B (which can be transcribed as [b] or [β]), D ([d] or [ð]), the unvoiced TH pronunciation of C and Z [θ] and the aspirate S used in Spain.

Our texts for today are the Obradors' song "Del cabello más sutil" and "Bonita rama de sauce" set by Argentinean composer Carlos Guastavino. In "Bonita rama de sauce", the word that looks like "río" on the Lied and Art Song Text Page is really just "rio", it's just a strange quirk on the page. If you are interested in hearing these songs, there are many YouTube clips of both of these songs, by many different performers, you can find them by going to YouTube and typing in the titles.

For those of you who want to know more about the River Plate, here is the Wikipedia article. You can find Spike Jones' "All I want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth" here--remember that this is totally exaggerated, I'm not saying it should really sound like this! But it's a fun way to hear someone whistle through an S and get in the holiday spirit awhile!

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions here, on the Facebook page or directly at


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