Fairfield University professor publishes English translation of renowned 19th century play "Don Álvaro, or the Force of Fate"

Fairfield University professor publishes English translation of renowned 19th century play "Don Álvaro, or the Force of Fate"

Image: Don Álvaro Mistaken perceptions and an inhuman honor code conspire to doom an ill-fated lover to a miserable destiny in the play "Don Álvaro, or The Force of Fate," a Spanish-language masterpiece which has been translated into English by Fairfield University Professor Robert M. Fedorchek, Ph.D.

Published in 1835 by the Duke of Rivas, Ángel de Saavedra, the play became the basis for the Giuseppe Verdi opera "La Forza del Destino." The romantic drama tells the tale of Don Álvaro, the son of a Spanish viceroy and Incan princess, who falls in love with the daughter of the Marquis of Calatrava. The two plan to elope, but are caught by the Marquis, who accuses Alvaro of seducing his daughter and vows with his sons to kill both of them.

Targeting the merciless honor code of an immoral aristocracy, the Duke of Rivas portrays the relentless bloodlust of the young woman's brothers who are spurred on by the pique of dishonor in spite of the innocence of the pair and the strong ties one brother unwittingly develops with Álvaro. In this atmosphere, the "force of fate" cannot be superseded, even by the most courageous acts of free will.

"I was interested in translating this work because it changed the Spanish stage forever by opening it up to the romanticism that was sweeping through the rest of western Europe," Dr. Fedorchek said.

After a falling out with King Ferdinand VII of Spain, the Duke crafted the piece while in exile from his homeland, but modified it before its premiere in 1835. The style of the play, which mixes prose and verse thereby breaking with neoclassisism, allowed a greater freedom of expression for the turbulent romance. Dr. Fedorchek's translation uses prose throughout, but retained short text lines to indicate passages that had originally been in verse.

"Fedorchek's excellent new translation brings this important play to life," said Alan E. Smith, Ph.D., associate professor of Modern Foreign Languages at Boston University. "Unsubtle, bombastic, and intense, Don Alvaro marked the beginning of the romantic explosion that was to change the direction of Spanish literature. Its representation of the effects of an implacable force on a young couple can still move readers willing to enter a world where irony is not a human prerogative, but rather that of a cruel star."

"Fedorchek's translation is superb," said David T. Gies, Ph.D., Commonwealth Professor of Spanish at the University of Virginia. "It captures the heightened drama of the original while smoothing out the play's more unrealistic passages...still managing to remain faithful to Rivas's spirit and intention."

A Fairfield resident and professor of Modern Languages and Literatures at Fairfield University, Dr. Fedorchek received his master's degree in Spanish in 1964 and his Ph.D. in Romance Languages in 1966 from the University of Connecticut. Dr. Fedorchek has published 12 books of translations of works by 19th - century Spanish authors and one contemporary translation.

"Bob Fedorchek has produced an amazing body of translations, praised for their relevance and for their grace and style," said Orin Grossman, Ph.D., Fairfield University's Academic Vice President. "'Don Alvaro' is the newest addition to this wonderful collection, and I am particularly delighted to be able to read the play which inspired one of Giuseppi Verdi's greatest operas, 'La Forza del Destino.'"

The book, which retails for $14.95, is available at Amazon.com and other online booksellers.

Posted On: 03-03-2005 10:03 AM

Volume: 37 Number: 178