On to battle! On to strife!
Notice how simple the words are, how lacking in pretension, and how suave and unforced the rhyming. And take my word for it: it is faithful to the original. Or consider the duet of Pamina and Papageno in The Magic Flute that culminates in this lovely declaration of vows:
The noblest aim of human life
To translate any one of these librettos into a readable prose text would be an accomplishment. To translate all seven into rhyming verse and prose recitative, fearlessly tackling two languages, is a major literary and musical event, and it's not as though McClatchy (a distinguished poet in addition to being the editor of The Yale Review) had nothing else on his plate when working on this book. He has produced, in Seven Mozart Librettos, an indispensable companion volume for any opera aficionado. I can think of no better way of preparing oneself for a production of Figaro or The Magic Flute than to read McClatchy's text of the libretto together with his always helpful introductory notes. -- DL