Essays on Opera

Essays on Opera

Essays on Opera

Essays on Opera

Excerpt

This volume consists of a selection of articles, lectures and addresses, all of which are concerned with opera. They all date from the time when I was living in Vienna. They all give expression to my lifelong interest in the problem of Opera, to begin with as a historian of music, later as a composer.

For a musician who comes from Vienna where the tradition of opera goes back for four hundred years, opera as a form of art has a special meaning. For him it is not a hybrid genre inferior to spoken drama, as it seems to so many musicians of other countries who only occasionally hear an opera and who are so disturbed by the complexity of the experience that they cannot comprehend what they see and hear as a self-contained unity. Opera is for the composer a world within the world in which everything takes place in accordance with the laws proper to this form of art. Through the music the action is raised into a sphere in which the composer gives finality to the words.

The characters of the actors in the drama are developed through the line of the melody and through the orchestration of the music which accompanies the singing. When the words end the music forms a bridge. From the earliest operas of Monteverdi onwards we see the composer trying to create something raised above the level of everyday life, and every reform of opera aims at a perfect equilibrium of words and music, and a treatment of the stage that will leave the hearer free to concentrate on the essentials of the action.

In my youth in Vienna I saw performances of the highest . . .

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