Recognition in Mozart's Operas

Recognition in Mozart's Operas

Recognition in Mozart's Operas

Recognition in Mozart's Operas

Synopsis

Since its beginnings, opera has depended on recognition as a central aspect of both plot and theme. Though a standard feature of opera, recognition--a moment of new awareness that brings about a crucial reversal in the action--has been largely neglected in opera studies. In Recognition in Mozart's Operas, musicologist Jessica Waldoff draws on a broad base of critical thought on recognition from Aristotle to Terence Cave to explore the essential role it plays in Mozart's operas. The result is a fresh approach to the familiar question of opera as drama and a persuasive new reading of Mozart's operas.

Excerpt

Intended as a dramaturgical study of Mozart's operas, this book attempts both to illuminate individual works and to offer a substantial treatment of a topic common to them as a group (as well as to operas of Mozart's contemporaries). In many ways, the overall design of the book has been determined by the subject itself. Recognition illuminates certain characters, plots, and themes more than others. The introduction and first three chapters are designed as a sequence; the following chapters are devoted to individual operas and intended as independent but complementary explorations of a central theme.

Because most of the operas discussed here are well known and readily available in a variety of editions, I have provided musical examples only where the discussion seems most to require them. The examples are taken from the Bärenreiter vocal scores, which are based on the Urtext of the Neue Mozart Ausgabe, with the exception of those examples in chapter 4 that are taken from the facsimile edition of Niccolò Piccinni's La buona figliuola in the Garland series. All have been newly (and expertly) set by Bill Holab of Bill Holab Music.

Passages quoted from the librettos of Mozart's operas are presented in the original language alongside translations designed to be as literal as possible. The sources for these passages are the facsimile editions of the original librettos included in The Librettos of Mozart's Operas, edited by Ernest Warburton, with the exception of La finta giardiniera, for which I have consulted both the facsimile edition of the Roman libretto of 1774 (included in volume 6 of the same series), upon which Mozart based his opera, and the edition of the opera edited by Rudolph Angermüller and Dietrich Berke in the Neue Mozart Ausgabe. Obvious errors of spelling and punctuation in the original librettos have been silently corrected in consultation with the Neue Mozart Ausgabe. The translations are mine in some cases and are adapted in others with varying degrees of emendation from the following sources: Gery Bramall's translation of La finta giardiniera included in the jacket notes to the Nikolaus Harnoncourt recording (Teldec 9031-72309-2, 1992); and Lionel Salter's translations of . . .

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