French language & Memorization

As rehearsals are fast approaching, I am working on getting everything memorized! I have learned all the music and French language, and now it is time to work the two elements together and get comfortable without the score. I have about two and a half weeks until rehearsals, and my goal is to have everything memorized one week from today. I am very close!! I have Acts I through III memorized, almost all of Act IV, and bits and pieces of Act V. 


I have created notecards to assist with both learning and memorizing the French language. I am definitely a paper-and-pen girl and I know that I learn more efficiently and retain information better when I actually write it down, so creating these notecards was super important. 

Just like typing the French while I was translating, it was also difficult and a bit awkward to physically write it down. Getting all the punctuation and spelling of words was tricky, but is a great way to experience and get acquainted with the language. 

After I had all the text and translation written, I spoke through the French and added any IPA (international phonetic alphabet) symbols as needed. I only included IPA for the specific syllables, words, vowels, etc. that are especially difficult or hard to remember. As I work through the score with the French I have added only those needed symbols. I like to keep my score clear of a ton of extra symbols/markings so that it is clear and ready to make blocking notes. 

The notecards have been so helpful, both in creation and as a great tool to have in hand to study and memorize. 


  • One of the hardest things has been remembering the little articles “le, ce, que, qui, des, de….” 
    • Solution: Breaking down the sentence, word for word to really understand the grammar in the phrase.
  • My goal is to memorize the text SPOKEN – so that I have a natural speech-like inflection that is unaffected by the trajectory of the melodic line or rhythm. 
    •  This forces me to really understand and take in the language so that I can actually express the meaning. 
    • When I put the French with the music it makes SO much sense and just fits so perfectly. (Gounod was praised for his elegant and efficient prosody!!)
    • I can actually put together the music of the language itself with the melody which adds layer and depth; the  lingual inflection can be different than musical accents. 

Top focus/goal: Learning and memorizing the French. 

Challenges: I realized that I also need to go through the opera again and pay more attention to the other characters’ texts. I need to know what others are saying in the scene (whether it’s directed toward Juliette or not) so that I can respond, react, and be completely immersed in the scene. 

Further topics to explore: Other characters’ texts, maybe start DuoLingo?

Characterization of Juliette: Obviously I need to know the text that goes with the music, but more importantly I need to know what Juliette is saying! I think if I can fully immerse myself in the French language and the drama of the text, it will help me create a more genuine and natural portrayal of Juliette.

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