My project aims to provide the first sustained empirical investigation into translation strategies used in Italian dubbed Animated Musical Comedies (1959–2019). It examines 11 songs selected from relevant animated musical comedies, which have (a) made an emblematic contribution to both the US and Italian creative industries and (b) been released in multiple languages and versions that exemplify how cultures interact in song and translation across time and space: Sleeping Beauty (1959), The Aristocats (1970), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), The Nightmare before Christmas (1993), The Lion King (1994), Hercules (1997), The Prince of Egypt (1998), Shrek 2 (2004), Frozen (2013), Frozen II (2019). Given the current proliferation of both remakes and brand-new musical animations, often exploiting star talent, understanding how translations/performances create ‘in tune’ cultures makes this research relevant and timely.
This study is shaped around three main research questions: What translation techniques are the most used by Italian adapters/translators in song dubbing? How does translation mediate interactions between music, text and performance? Can the translated text alter the nature and perception of the song and the film in which it is included? To answer these questions, I have developed a tailored methodology exploiting four different techniques of song analysis – i.e. contextual, schematic, statistical and time-bound analysis (via digital software Sonic Visualiser) – to be used alongside Barambones-Zubiría’s comparative translation analysis framework (2009) in a joined-up approach, which has allowed me to both detect the translation strategies used and get an all-round comprehension of their implications in terms of vocal and visual performance.