We've put these opera arias through Google Translate and the result is bonkers

1 August 2017, 10:31

By Amy MacKenzie

Translating operas is a notoriously tricky business – so we wanted to see if a computer could make sense of two arias by Verdi and Puccini. The result was… interesting.

Verdi's La traviata and Puccini's La bohème are two of the most famous operas ever written. The soaring arias have been favourites for over a century – but what do the words actually mean? 

There are different translations available of both arias (translated by real humans), but we thought we'd see how a computer fared and ran two arias through Google's Translate feature. 

The two arias were the drinking song ('Libiamo') from Verdi's La traviata and Marietta's aria 'Quando men vo' from Puccini's La boheme.

Here's what happened

 

In 'Libiamo', Google translated one line as: "Ah! We enjoy, the cup, the cup and the chant, The night the abbe and the rice", when it's more usually translated as "Let's enjoy the wine and the singing, the beautiful night, and the laughter."

Both clips come from performances that are available on DVD from Opus Arte. You can buy the recordings of La Boheme and La Traviata here.