23. November 2008 · 1 comment · Categories: Links

Bunny Carlson of Clinton Township writes: “During the past several weeks, we have heard radio commercials announcing the new production of ‘Madame Butterfly’ at the Detroit Opera House. They assure us that we will enjoy this ‘heart-rendering’ story, beautifully sung by talented singers. My dictionary defines ‘rendering’ as ‘a performance of a piece of music or drama.’ As for ‘render,’ among the other uses is ‘melt down (fat): The fat was being cut up and rendered for lard.’

I think the word of choice in the commercial would be ‘heart-rending.’ Do I need a new dictionary, or does the Michigan Opera Theatre and its staff need one?”

Dear Bunny: Right you are: The term the opera company needs is “heart-rending.” “Render” has several meanings, including “provide,” “cause to be” and “represent artistically,” as well as the gross one you mention, having to do with fat. But none of them is particularly appropriate to do to a heart. To “rend” is to wrench or tear. “Heart-rending” is “heart-wrenching” — a perfect description of the sad but musically gorgeous story of “Madame Butterfly.”

I read it here.

1 Comment

  1. Hah! Now that’s a great advice column.