Academic journal article Review of Artistic Education

9. an Analysis of the Vocal Ensembles from the Opera "I Puritani" by Vincenzo Bellini

Academic journal article Review of Artistic Education

9. an Analysis of the Vocal Ensembles from the Opera "I Puritani" by Vincenzo Bellini

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

In his last work, the Puritans (1835), he reached a new strenght and temerity in the field of orchestral effect. The Puritans (in Italian "I puritans") is a 3-act work by Vincenzo Bellini, with a libretto written by Carolo Pepoli (inspired by the comedy "Tetes rondes et cavaliers" from 1833 of the authors Jacques-François Ancelot and Xavier-Boniface Saintine, who in their turn were inspired by the novel Old Mortality written by Walter Scott in 1816). It was the last opera composed by Vincenzo Bellini. The premiere of the opera took place at the "Théåtre Italien" in Paris on 24 January 1836.

2. Elvira - Giorgio Duet

"O amato zio", the orchestral introduction of Elvira - Giorgio duet takes the form of an accompanying monody describing Elvira's unease and concern because she is forced by her father to accept the marriage to Riccardo and renounce to Arturo's love. Allegro molto (4/4) announces the rushing to the uncle Giorgio's room, which she considers her last chance of rescue. Elvira's overwhelming mood is suggested by the gradual, descendant and melodic motion in A Minor scale, the line "O amato zio, o mio secondo padre!"64 (with no accompaniment) sounding like a grief of pain. Ex. 1 (V. Bellini - I Puritani, BMG Ricordi, Rome, 2006, act I, Stage IV, Duetto Elvira - Giorgio: Amato zio, p. 38, ms 32-34).

Giorgio's response brings agogic changes starting from Maestoso (the grandeur of the character) to Lento, which expresses the calm, gentleness and love for his niece. Giorgio wants to convince her that wedding is a reason for joy, not sadness, and in this respect, the composer makes passages from minor to major (A Minor - B-flat Major), in pianissimo tone, up to the replies: o figlia mia diletta, oggi sposa sarai65 (in forte), showing that father's decision is final. From Elvira's repeated sposa response (con forza) springs up fear, anxiety, despair but also the desire to put in a good word to her father in order to change his decision. Allegro giusto brings back the agitation from the introduction of the orchestral duet, while the transition from piano to fortissimo through crescendo, on an orchestral bridge in which prevails both the sixteenths and descending conjuction motions renders the young woman's inner torture, disappointment and defeated soul. Ex. 2 (V. Bellini - I Puritani, BMG Ricordi, Rome, 2006, Act I, Stage IV, Duetto Elvira - Giorgio: O amato zio, p. 40, ms. 53-61).

Elvira confesses to her uncle the sincere love for Arturo (Sai com 'arde in petto mio bella fiamma onnipossente; sai ch'e puro e il mio desio, che innocente e questo core66). The second stanza is a rhythmic-melodic variation of the former, but with dynamic differences, Elvira's voice reaching up to fortissimo. The musical discourse supports the literary text by accents (Se tremante all 'ara innante strascinata un dl saro... forsennanta in quell'instante di dolore io moriro!..67). Ex. 3 (V. Bellini - I Puritani, BMG Ricordi, Rome, 2006, Act I, Stage IV, Duetto Elvira - Giorgio: O amato zio, p. 41, pp. 76-84).

After listening carefully, Uncle Giorgio gives her the big news: Arturo is waiting for her at the altar. Elvira's surprise and enormous happiness are described by a phrase with short rhythmic-melodic cells (in A major) interrupted by quaver rests (fuor di se per la gioja68). Ex. 4 (V. Bellini - I Puritani, BMG Ricordi, Roma, 2006, Act I, Scene IV, Duetto Elvira - Giorgio: O amato zio, p. 44, ms. 115-119).

Giorgio takes over Elvira's melodic line, and then they are joining their voices upon a descending third interval, in a rhythm of martial character (si vinta dai gioire69) from which it comes out their joy and deep soulful contentment. Ex. 5 (V. Bellini - I Puritani, BMG Ricordi, Roma, 2006, Act I, Scene IV, Duetto Elvira - Giorgio: O amato zio, p. 45, ms. 141-149).

The hunting horns announce Arturo's appearance, bringing new tempo changes that show the solemnity of the moment (Allegro moderato, 2/4). …

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