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Lecture 4

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Italian Studies

History of Italian Opera Tuesday, January 29, 2013 9:45 AM  Early Beginnings o 1600s was the first opera: Iacopo Peri's Euridice o Roots in intermedi  Dramatic performances that were given at large feasts (singing and dancing)  Mean "in between" it would take place in between the acts of plays  Required 8 singers and 8 instrumentalist Grew to 60 singers and 30 instrumentalists  o Sources: Classical literature, esp. Greek o Madrigals: o Instruments: viols recorders, flutes, trombones, harpsichord, lutes, spinets (early piano) o Tableaus of recurring themes; pastorial themes, Hades themes o Ingegni - contraptions to hoist performers; starting to experiment with the stage setup  Characteristics of Early Opera o Classical Influences: e.g. Art for pleasure  Greek: the first civilization to make it for just pleasure o Aristotle's Poetics = sacred text  First goal: Art should imitate life o Tragedy, music = capable of stirring passions  Tragedy effected the audience because it stirred them to fear and pity o Ideal characters: protagonist should be 'good'  Men should be show as being better than they really are o Chorus very important  How should they be set to music??  Text and melody should be combined  The Power of Music o Influence of Greek tragedy on role of music o Music = supernatural powers  Giovanni De' Bardi: Discourse on Ancient Music  Suggested that they is some sort of curable power with music o Orpheus myth as prominent figure  Said to have obtained wild beast o Semi-divine o Musician who tamed beasts and charmed with music o Followed wife, Eurydice, to Hades: saves her from hell o Florentine Camerata; artists, debated issues around music and its place in Ancient world One does not depend on the other; but is instead is a unit  o Monody: accompanied solo song (i.e. Single melodic line) o Monodic features:  Exclusion of polyphony- which involves many voices  Melody comes from words, not composer  Emphasis NOT on madrigalisms (=music analogous to details in poem)  Singer impersonates imagined character in an imagine situation  Pastoral Drama- "the art of the backward glance" o Genre depicting idealized world of Arcadia o Crucial to development of opera o Roots in classical world, Virgil's Eclogues o Celebration of youth, innocence, love o Yearning for Golden Age o Music has important place: natural part of Arcadia  Arcadia is a musical world; so they thought that this drama could only be portrayed in music o Music and poetry finally fuse  This eventually became OPERA  Opera takes Root o Last 30 years of 17th century o Entertainment of the wealthy o Known as dramma musicale or favola in musica o Term 'opera' appears 1647 o Music now THE medium for drama  Before music was incidental to the play, now music permeates through the drama o 1st known opera: Peri's Dafne (1597) (only 6 fragments survived) o Earliest complete opera : Peri's Euridice (1600)  Claudio Monteverdi o 1st true operatic success: Monteverdi' Orfeo (1607, Mantua) o Orpheus = founder of civilization; venerated as source cosmic harmony o He wasnt just a musician, he was supposeably our source of cosmic harmony o Libretto (the book with the lines: textual component): Alessandro Striggio; 5 acts  Act I: Preparation for wedding  Act II: Dramatic crisis  Act III: Orpheus resolves to go to Hades  Act IV: Prosperpina is moved; Eurydice released; Orpheus looks back and Eurydice is lost  Act V: Orpheus laments loss  Gioachino Rossini (1792- 1868) o Reasons opera was popular in 18th century:  New public entertainment  It became cheaper and average people could attend  Spectacular art form appropriate to courtly life o New court theatres: San Carlo; Teatro Regio o Singers = freelance artists  Great increase due to all the theatres opening up  Made a singers career rather precarious life; sometimes they would get jobs, some times not o Opera house = centre of social life  Had facilities for playing chess, gabbling, etc  It was such a social place, they sometimes it was even hard to hear the singers o Teachers: priests and brothers Giuseppe and Luigi Malerbi  They shaped him into the performer he would eventually become o Castrati- male singers castrated to preserve boy's voice (e.g. Farinelli)  This gave the men a high vocal skill; which was hard for women to match  The catholic church ended up banning it , because it was mutilation to the human body o Mother was a singer and father was a trumpet player  He learned horn as well; they encouraged him to write music o 1805: Rossini meets Mombelli family, influrential supporters o 1806: goes to Accademia Filarmonica in Bologna o 1810: Rosini in Venice at Teatre San Moise give La cambiale di matrimonio o 1815- 1822: composer in residence at Teatre San Carlo in Naples  One of the most lavished threatres/ mist beautiful opera house  Opera seria: tradegy/serious  Opera buffa:comedy o 1824: receives contract in Paris  From the French government; they were starting a opera house o 1825: writes Il vioggio a Reims  Everyone loved this but the King  Lost the contract because the King was exiled o 1866: suffers stroke; turns 75  Made a full recovery o 1868: discovery of malignant tumour; dies post- surgery, Nov. 13th  Tried to removed it but took out the tumour with non sterile tools; got a massive infection and died o Il barbiere di Siviglia  Libretto (written by Cesare Sterbini) based on French play by Beaumarchais  Libretto: the actually book/script/words to songs  First performed in Rome  Premiere: 1816- total fiasco (because of political reasons- two opera were named the same, in the same period of time) ; 2nd night: success!  Rossini's most representative work  Opera buffa: comedy  There is a lot of exaggeration; and it is full of comic relieve; a lot of lying and quite wit  Giusepe Verdi (1813-1901) o Birthplace: Le Roncole  Roncole was chaotic because of Napoleonic Wars (1803- 1815)  Ended in Belgium by Napoleon o Father (Carlo) and mother (Luigia) innkeepers  Means were modest; 18 hour days because of the inn (busy life) o Quiet child  An "IRON" character- liked to stay close to home and didn't like noisy games o Intelligent, musical gifts evident early  A priest taught him the organ and languages o 1821: parents bought him spinet  It was put in his will, that it will be kept (very valuable to him)  Very expensive so it was weird that a son of an innkeeper had a spinet o Age 10: hired as organist for San Michele in Roncole o The Verdi's curse  Priest pushed him down the stairs  "may God strike you down with lightning...ended up dying by lightning"  Was respected by the town due to this o 1823: goes to school in Busseto; works with Philharmonic Society as copyist then composer o Antonio Barezzi becomes patron  Took him in and treated like he was his child o 1830: Verdi in politics - was adopted as darling of the Reds  Became one of the Reds because of his association with the society o 1832: applies to Milan Conservatory (18)  Was turned down and studied privately till 1835) o Becomes rehearsal conductor for Societa Filarmonica di Milano (amateur group; but gave him experience) o 1834: returns to Busseto as municipal music master o 1836: marries Barezzi's daughter, Margherita; 2 kids  Married the daughter of his patron o 1839: moves family to Milan; kids die o 1839: gets 1st opera, Oberto, conte di San Bonifacio, staged at La Scala; success o 1840: Margherita dies  When he was only 26 years old; childless and a widower o Returns to Bussetto, vows to quit music o Completes 2nd opera, Un giorno de regno [A One-Day Reign]; failure  Un giourno de regno: "The unification movement" o Writes Nabucco; premieres at La Scala 1842; huge success; Chorus of Va' pensiero[Fly, Thought] becomes symbol of Italian nationalism  Evokes the recovery of the country from exile  Seemed to stir up a sense of patriotism  Significance of Nabucco to Italy o Evoked symbolism of desire of Italians to be free from oppressors o Verdi as Bard of the Risorgimento (unification movement) o Words of slave song Va' pensiero evoke recovery of homeland by exiles o VERDI = slogan Vittorio Emanuale Re D'Italia  The slogan meant that they wanted that man to be King o This made him very wealthy  La traviata (The Fallen Woman) o Libretto: Francesco Maria Piave o Based on Alexandre Dumas Jr's book La Dameaux camelias o Describes love affair with Marie Duplessis, courtesan  Left him because he didnt have any money; he was broken hearted  She then died of consumption o Most successful play in early 20th century Play of his book became the most popular play in the world  o Opera premiered 1853, La Fenice (Venice) o 1854: presented again to universal praise  Didnt think it was good enough so he took it out, reworked it and represented it in 1854  Why audiences love La traviata o Showcase realism, down-to-earth emotions  Only 4 scenes; less expensive to run  And only has a couple main actors; then could use less experienced actors for the rest o Characters true to life o Enduring theme of love and death o Feminine myth: reminds audience of "the struggles between reconciliation of retribution and redemption, either divine or otherwise, in human experience. Violetta's story, particularly when it is embodied in the universal language of music, becomes thus in some sense the story of all of us"  Verdi's Later Life o Owned a number of parcels of land which he cultivated o Bred horses, cured meats and sold them o Elected to political office, 1859 then again 1861 o Named Senator of the Kingdom of Life o Donated a lot of money to charity, established scholarships, founded and supported nursery schools, paid for shoes for school kids, sent poor arthritic peasants to spa, etc. o Though virtually an atheist, wrote Messa da Requiem (1874) to honour Alessandro Manzoni his 'secular saint' (this Mass was sung in 1997 during funeral service for Princess Diana) o 1888, built, equipped, and helped run small hospital that continues to serve disabled persons and victims of accidents o 1890s: built retirement home in Milan to shelter old, poor people from theatre (Casa di Riposo per Musicisti, aka Casa Verdi) o 1901: suffered stroke in Grand Hotel in Milan; dies o No funeral ceremony; short rite; no music o Buried in Milan's Monuental Cemetery with understanding that as soon as Casa di Riposo opened, would be moved there. On that occasion, a full state funeral given and 300,000 people crowded streets who sang Va Pensiero Commedia dell'arte Thursday, February 7, 2013 11:34 AM Introduction:  Translation: 'comedy of artists from a guild' o Done by professional actors  Aka: commedia alla maschera (masked comedy); commedia all'improviso (improvised comedy)  Origins: 16th century in Italy o Actors were usually the script writers  'arte' = guild and NOT art o A guild is sorta like a union/ they controlled aspects of a certain profession Actors were wandering street performers; how they began  o How would travel city to city, to whoever they could find willing audiences; becareful where they set up because they were none for 'lacking morals'  Pre-1550s: precarious lifestyle; post-1550s actors formed regular companies; had protection of patrons o Post-1550: theatres were starting to be built for the public  10-12 actors/troupe Characteristics  Not exactly like improv theatre; improv was only partial  Plot line written out in detail (enters and exits)  Act
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