YELENA KURDINA

Why did I start making transliterations?


The answer is pretty simple: most Americans do not read the Cyrillic alphabet. Years ago I would write the transliteration in each singer’s score. After a while the task became tiresome so I decided to transliterate certain, well-known scores and then simply copy them when needed. My first complete transliteration was “Eugene Onegin.” The transliteration became very popular and prompted me to work on other opera scores. Soon, opera companies and other institutions commissioned my transliteration work.


What is wrong with most transliterations?


Many transliterations are done with spoken Russian in mind, which is quite different from singing Russian.

They often reflect SPELLING of words rather than what these words sound like.

They are full of mistakes/misprints.

They are visually hard to read.

They are inconsistent. The same sound is often represented by different symbols.

Mostly they are done by people who do not have experience as musicians or more specifically as Vocal/Diction Coaches.


Why do I not use IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet)?


IPA is a wonderful tool for those who know how to use it. Unfortunately there are many singers who have never studied IPA and can’t use it effectively. Also most people prefer to see something that looks like a real alphabet on the page.


Why do I believe my transliterations are superior?


They are as simple as possible considering the task: practical, consistent and phonetically accurate.

They are based on years of professional experience coaching non-Russian speakers.

They are visually easy to read.

They reflect a more contemporary use of the Russian language.