The Culture of Opera Buffa in Mozart's Vienna: A Poetics of Entertainment

By Mary Hunter | Go to book overview

Chapter Four
ARIAS: SOME ISSUES

THERE ARE several reasons for looking closely at arias in the course of a study of opera buffa as entertainment. The crudest is that the aria is by far the most common closed musical number in opera buffa, and any consideration of how the genre presents its meanings has to take the aria—the basis of the dramaturgy—into account. Every character with any part in the plot gets at least one aria, and anyone of significance gets two or three or more. The numbers of arias in individual operas decrease somewhat between 1770 and 1790, partly because of the lengthening of arias, partly because of increasing numbers of ensembles, and occasionally as a result of more fluid relations between recitative and aria or between aria and ensemble, such that “aria” is no longer such an unambiguous category.1 Nevertheless, even by the end of the period, most operas include between fourteen and eighteen arias, and even those with fewer typically include more arias than ensembles. More important than sheer weight of numbers, however, is the aria's function as the chief carrier of meaning about individual characters. To be sure, ensembles (especially the larger ones) can create a pressure to act which reveals aspects of characters inaccessible to solo numbers, but on the whole the “essence” of a character is most clearly expressed in the series of arias he or she sings in the course of an opera. Arias, then, are among the most important clues to “character type,” a concept of primary importance in understanding the social profile of this repertory.


TYPE AND CHARACTER

The main vehicle for these meanings is the “aria type,” a concept much in use since the eighteenth century but quite variable in meaning. In the late eighteenth century, the concept of aria type (derived more from opera seria than opera buffa) was most closely related to generally expressive qualities manifested primarily in the melodic and declamatory qualities of the vocal line. John Brown, for example, in his Letters upon the Poetry and Music of the Italian Opera (1789), lists five basic types: the aria cantabile, the aria di portamento, the aria di mezzo carattere, the aria parlante, and the aria

____________________
1
Trofonio's big aria “Spirti invisibili,” in Salieri's La grotta di Trofonio, I, 10, for example, segues directly into a chorus, while Plistene's exit from the grotto in II, 6 is set as a scena. The influence of Salieri's “French connection” on these pieces is obvious.

-95-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Culture of Opera Buffa in Mozart's Vienna: A Poetics of Entertainment
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 331

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.