VPMA93H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Der Ring Des Nibelungen, Francesco Cavalli, Cardinal Mazarin

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16 Aug 2016
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VPMA93 Lecture 8 – Music and Spectacle
june1, 2016
1. French Opera in the time of Louis XIV (14) – Jean-Baptiste Lully
Louis XIV (The Sun King) – (1638-1715)
Learned from Cardinal Mazarin and the events of His childhood the importance of centralizing
state control.
Loved to dance.
Opera first introduced to France through Cardinal Mazarin’s commissions of Italian composers
didn’t
really catch on. (Luigi Rossi and Francesco Cavalli)
- How politics played in formation of opera
- He was king for 72 years. His court was so strog that everyone wanted to be like
him.how he developed court and music played in it . His father louis the thirteen died.
Louis the fifteenth wife, queen Ann, did all kind of things to get his son louis the 14 to get
complete power over france. Something caused problem.she picked the chief assistant
who was defacto regent of france, guy with power. Cardinal Mazarinwas an italian guy
and he was very politically sophisticated and he was really good at his job. He worked
hard and knew the power of propaganda and wanted to bring opera from italy, florence.
It started in 1600 in italy, florence , but did not spread in europe. In france in terms of
stage production was tragidy. There were playwrights like lasin and corney and that was
the art france was proud of. France thought of opera as stupid first. Mazarinwas was
convinced if he brings opera to france, he can promote king. So he hired Luigi Rossi
from Rome and Francesco Cavalli from venice. He got them to come to france and he
had some success. People did not like the italian guy as head. Frandis was Revolution
which caused the italian power to be kicked out of france and louis the 14 became full
charge of france. Lui learned to centralize power. He thought that he can use opera for
propaganda and put on stage on how great the king is and he thought he would use the
italian singers as spies to send to rome to see what rome was up to. Lou really liked
dance. Lui and lully met as teenagers in belly dance. People were trying to figure out
how to put dance in the italian opera. The sun king name came from the dance louis did
where he was sun like a god and others were planets revolving around him. He was
sending a message. He was using dance for a political messages. 2 pics on the slide.
1st when louis was king and the bottom one in sun costume.
Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687)
Born in Florence.
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Made the garçon de chamber of Madamoiselle de Montpensier, an important courtier.
In 1661, when Louis XIV was made absolute ruler of France, Lully was made the most important
court composer. Was able to create a musical style for opera which appealed to Louis XIV and
the French.
- He was italian and growing up in florence and the fancy lady from france came named
montpensier. She really liked lully and brought him with her so that she can learn italian.
She payed for his tuition. He was doing fine but then the lady got excelled from country
because the she did not take side of louis. Lully applied and spend time in paris and
work for the king’s cousin. Lully became very popular and the his music teacher died and
lully took over his teacher’s job. When louis became king he made luly the king of music
in france. Lully figured out a way to write opera to appeal to the king and french people.
French really liked spoken word style and trgedi. So he made a composition where
people were singing clearly instead of malisma. (malismas:more than one note for each
syllabi ex little mermaid and syllabi setting: one note for each syllabi). At the beginning of
opera, a thing called prologue, where the singer and composer tell how great king is,
instead of making prologue smaller, he made the prologue very long. Lots of fancy
dresses and scenery. He also included dance in it. orchestra plays music in the
beginning. He ends up talking about how the hero is nice and all that which is the king.
You will hear course with days and time and how just the law is.
Definitions:
French overture: a two part form with each part repeated. The first part is a slower processional
featuring the heavy use of double dotting. The second is a faster section featuring lots of fugal
counterpoint. (when orchestra plays at the beginning of opera starting from lully. It is a ternary
form. Section a, b and a again.
Section a: is slow and feels like march and has double dotted rhythm see @22min , long notes
short notes and then long notes.
Section b: is a lot faster and does imitative counterpoint which are kind of round (same melody
starting at different times)
Section a: again ).
Air (Italian- Aria): Text set to more lyrical music in a less natural style. Used for moments where
characters are reflecting on events in the opera (similar to a soliloquy). In French opera, the
style was of Airs was kept elegant and simple. In Italian, Arias were moments of vocal
pyrotechnics where the singers could show off their abilities (nice melody and song , people can
dance to it).
Recitative: A section of text set to music in a more natural declamatory style. Usually employed
when the text is moving the plot along. (recitation is like reading text, more like people
advancing the plot. Opposite of air)
Divertissement: A short work, whose action may be only tenuously connected to the main plot of
an opera, featuring dancing and spectacular choruses with lots of costumes. A means of
incorporating the ballet tradition into opera.(music that sounds dancing and people are dancing)
Picture from image: ancient greek setting, the costumes look french.they had the feeling that
even though the setting was in greece but the still retale to france.
An example of Opera at the court of Louis XIV: Lully’s “Atys”
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Plot: Sangaride is betrothed to the King of the Phrygians (area in greece) . She’s unhappy about that
because she loves Atys. It turns out that Atys loves her in return. Atys, ends up becoming the high
priest of a goddess named Cybele who, it turns out, loves Atys. Cybele announces her love to Atys in
a dream. Atys is unhappy about this. Cybele ends up getting angry and blinds Atys with a spell (in
original version cybele make atys go crazy and he kills sangaride ) . Before he can kill himself in
despair, she also turns him into a tree that she can adore for all time. The end. (they resembled
luois with atys, cybele with the queen and the sangaride the madam luois like went to marry
someone else. Example of french overture. )
Prologue: A frequent feature of operas from this time. Prologues contain lots of metaphorical
and/or literal references to how wonderful Louis XIV is by commenting on current events.
(netherlands attacked france and france had to wait to attach netherlands because it was winter. So
the prologue shows how the louis is great for waiting. It talks about how great the hero is. Example
of Recitative.he is like talking. Course of the hour and Saying how just the law is. Dancers get
up and dance.all constumes are elegent but everyone is suppsoe to look the same. Lully got up
and had stick and smash the ground to keep everyone on time. Lully hit his foot and got
gangreen which actually killed him )
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZjJeb6MPtU&feature=youtu.be
Richard Wagner and Gesamkunstwerk
Richard Wagner: 1813-1883
Started composing at the age of about 15.
Became Kapellmeister in Dresden until he was exiled from Germany for his support of
revolutionary insurrections in 1848/9. He didn’t return to Germany for 10 years after that.
Composed a great number of operas on themes from a legendary Germanic past (Lohengrin,
Tannhäuser, Tristan und Isolde, Der Ring des Nibelungen – a cycle of four operas (takes 16-17
hours to perform and like lord of rings))
- How he took ideas from philosophy to make spectacle.
- Most influential after beethoven in music. He didn’t play any instrument. He started
composing very late in life until he was 15. He was very interested in greek and latin
poetry and EPICS.he became court composer mid 18 century. In 1848 and 1849, he
was exiled from germany and lived in switzerland for his controversial political views. He
came back and he got the support from mad king levick who was crazy about wagner’s
operas. Ludevic's the second’s castle in bavaria which appears at the beginning of
disney movies. Lohengrin opera composition that wagner made in which a hero
Lohengrin rides swan in water so levick build a cave in his castle when he can reenact
the scene. Wagner ended up composing lots of operas because of his interest in epic
poetry and music. Bayreuth, wagner theatre where they play his operas in 4 days.
Some of Wagner’s ideas about music and drama
Gesamkunstwerk – “total work of art”. Belief that the future of art lay in dramas which would
incorporate into itself many separate arts, such as poetry, music, painting, staging, acting.
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