Site present – how to read this site (literally)
Web design has never really been this site's forte, but nonetheless I'm going to leave the (non-)design as it is, for three
reasons: one, because I'm unable to create a better design myself; two, because I cannot pay anyone who is able to do so; and
three, because I want to preserve this fantastic site from the internet's early days just the way it is, as a website museum, if
A living museum, though, since I'll continue to add new content – not just new pages on tenors that have so far been missing from the site, but also additional information or recordings on tenor pages that already exist. Here, the problem was how to offset the new content against the old one. The solution is simple, and perfectly congruent with the site's, ahem, modest design:
Whatever was published under Mr. Nouvion's ownership (even if it was written by myself, since I had already been a contributor for many years) is typeset in Times New Roman.
Whatever has been, or will be published under my ownership is typeset in Georgia. Not pretty, but effective, I think.
Opera titles are always given in the libretto's original language; if that language is likely to be unknown to most readers, the title may be translated into English. English is the site's main language, but the ability to read Italian, German and French (and, occasionally, Spanish or Dutch) is expected (Google Translate is your friend if you fail to meet that expectation).
Aria and song titles are given in the original language, as far as the sound index is concerned; but in the recorded language on the individual singer's page.
Capitalization in names follows the rules of the respective language; so it's De Negri, but de Trévi, it's D'Alessio, but d'Albert, and so forth.
Transliterating Cyrillic script is of course always a thorny problem. I basically use the English transliteration, which is certainly the best and most descriptive (for example, the also widespread German transliteration cannot distinguish between voiced zh and unvoiced sh, which are uniformely given as sch in German transliteration – an outrageous solution). But also the English transliteration has its shortcomings: above all the use of the letter y. Y is used, not always but often, to transliterate Russian letter е as ye (like in Yeltsin or Yevgeny), which cannot though be put in practice consequently: the y sound is by no means equally pronounced in all Russian words, and here the transliteration becomes transcription (trying to denote sounds, not just letters). Otherwise, if we'd consequently transliterate Russian е as ye, it would have to be Yevgyeny... which would certainly be very methodical (so as to distinguish Russian е from э), but not exactly enhance readability since е is so much more frequent than э in Russian. Even more detrimental is the second English use of y in Cyrillic transliteration: as a substitute for both й and ий, thus making them undistinguishable from (third use) ы, a totally different sound – which is just as outrageous as the German zh/sh confusion.
Bottom line, I'm using the English transliteration, but excluding the use of y. Y means only ы, on this site; Russian е is just e (Eltsin), accepting that е and (rare) э become thus undistinguishable (which is also true for the actual Russian sounds, in those many many cases where the initial y sound of Russian е is hardly or not at all noticeable); ий is – borrowing from the German transliteration – ij and й hence j, and я is consequently ja, ю ju. So it's not Yevgyeny, not Yevgeny and not even Evgeny, but Evgenij, it's Kozlovskij, and so forth. Exceptions are made where singers transliterated their own names in a different way (thinking of Hvorostovsky, who would be Khvorostovskij in my system), except where – which goes only for very few names – they used different transliterations for every country where they sang: Chaliapine, Chaliapin, Schaljapin... becomes, strictly sticking to the system, Shaljapin on this site.
Finally, alphabetical order... a mystery to too many! The computer has totally ruined every sense of alphabetical order, always treating blank spaces like unsurmountable obstacles that inhibit alphabetical progress. That's completely wrong!! It has become customary to see "alphabetical" lists of, say, names that list first all "Di Xxx" names, and then the "Dixxx" ones, like in "Di Bernardo – Di Mazzei – Di Stefano – Di Tommaso – Dianni – Dister". Customary yes, but still painfully wrong; correct alphabetical order totally ignores all blank spaces, so it's "Dianni – Di Bernardo – Di Mazzei – Di Stefano – Dister – Di Tommaso". Same goes for aria/song titles: "Abbandonata" comes before (and not, like your computer fancies, after) "A buon mercato", because "A buon mercato" has to be sorted as if it was written "Abuonmercato".
A very special case is the Dutch tussenvoegsel, the ubiquitous "prefix" in Dutch names: de, van, van de, van der... in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, it is considered in alphabetical order; in the Netherlands, it isn't. So somebody called Van der Heyden will be filed under V in Belgium, but under H in the Netherlands. On this site, I'm following the respective rules, and sort Belgian singers the Belgian way, and Dutch singers the Dutch way.
Things are much easier for the German equivalent "von": in German, it's a gross mistake to file "von" names under V, and different from what you are used to read in international auction catalogs, it's never "von Bary, Alfred", but "Bary, Alfred von".
Last remark on alphabetical issues: in the sound index, aria and song titles are given in strict alphabetical order (articles included), but opera titles in scientific alphabetical order (articles not included, so La traviata is not filed under L but under T). That way, the respective indices are not only easier to use, but also exposing both important systems of alphabetical order, and thus hopefully contributing to the preservation of literacy in illiterate times.