The new West Side Story

22 January 2009 at 4:20 AM | Posted in News | Leave a comment

Can someone who has or will watch the Broadway revival of West Side Story tell me if the Spanish lyrics work as well as the original English lyrics? I live too far from New York City to get there (I don’t have the money to pay for the trip). The musical is one of my favorites (I collect DVDs of musicals); I once directed a stage production of it in Davao City, Philippines, when I was much younger and could understudy for the role of Tony (I could sing and dance then!). From this excerpt quoted in the NPR review, I’m not sure the Spanish works:
Hoy me siento
tan hermosa
tan preciosa que puedo volar
y no hay diosa en el mundo que me va a alcanzar.

The English lyrics go this way:
I feel pretty,
Oh, so pretty,
I feel pretty and witty and bright!
And I pity
Any girl who isn’t me tonight.

I’m not talking about the meaning of the lines (obviously, when translating or rethinking lyrics, you have to change meanings because the melody forces you to). I’m talking about the rhyme. The English lyrics have a lot of rhyming sounds, inside the lines, at the end of lines, everywhere, but the Spanish, well, restricts itself pretty much to -sa and -ar. Maybe, just maybe, if this excerpt is representative, West Side Story itself is really a Caucasian view of Puerto Ricans and can’t be made politically correct. I could be wrong and, in fact, hope I’m very wrong.

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