Italian opera between educational linguistics and intercultural education

Chiara Zamborlin

Although Japanese opera majors are usually capable of decoding the linguistic meaning of the Italian operatic librettos they deals with, they appear unable to translate beyond the semantic level of words. This tendency leads students to misinterpretations that compromise both the understanding and the aesthetic appreciation of the texts in their repertoires. In this paper I shall illustrate one typical example of misunderstanding triggered by cross-cultural pragmatic causes. The example excerpted from Mascagni’s Rustic Chivalry features an instance of misunderstanding in which students were unable to properly assess the meaning of a kissing situation. In the discussion I shall point out that insights from Habermas’ pragmatic theory of meaning may prove to be helpful in detecting/redressing students’ misreading in such a way that clarification might be seen significant not only in terms of educational linguistics but also in terms of intercultural education.