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

By Mary Hunter | Go to book overview

Chapter Six
ENSEMBLES

SOME ISSUES

Ensembles are often taken to exemplify the spirit of opera buffa. This is partly because they are more numerous in, and more characteristic of, the genre than opera seria,1 partly because they focus on groups rather than individuals and are thus felt to embody the spirit of comedy more fully than the seriatim statements of personal positions represented by arias, and partly because their flexible forms and various textures allow an apparent “naturalness” of interaction that contrasts with the supposed “stiff artificiality” of opera seria. Ensembles have also traditionally been taken as the element of opera buffa closest to the essence of the “high classical” instrumental style and have been essentially canonized in the context of opera buffa in relation to that. Wolfgang Osthoff, for example, comments that opera buffa's spirit of community is most aptly expressed through resources of polyphony and practices based in instrumental music (emphasis mine) and describes the genre as a whole as being suffused with an Ensemblegeist.2 Reinhard Strohm does not assert the priority of instrumental music but notes that opera buffa's pervasive themes of social differentiation and the relation of the individual to the group are in fact questions of “harmony” and are naturally expressed in ensembles, in which participants are both soloists and members of the group.3 In the following two chapters, I do not address the relation of the opera buffa ensemble to instrumental music of the same period, but I take seriously the notion of the genre's “ensemble spirit” in the sense of its preoccupation with social groups. Unlike arias, which tend to articulate the “fixed” stratification of society by rank and

____________________
1
See, however, Daniel Heartz and Marita McClymonds, s.v. “Opera seria,” NGO, on the increasing seria use of ensembles in the 1780s and 1790s.
2
Wolfgang Osthoff, “Die Opera buffa,” in Wulf Arlt, Ernst Lichtenhahn, and Hans Oesch, eds., Gattungen der Musik in Einzeldarstellungen. Gedenkschrift Leo Schrade, erste Folge (Berlin and Munich: Francke, 1973) pp. 680–84, et passim. Charles Rosen, The Classical Style (London: Faber & Faber, 1971) passim, often comments on the relation between the pacing of instrumental music and that of the buffa ensemble (by which he means Mozart's Da Ponte operas). For a more detailed discussion of one sort of relation between instrumental music and opera buffa, see James Webster, “How ‘Operatic’ are Mozart's Concertos?” in Neal Zaslaw, ed., Mozart's Piano Concertos: Text, Context, Interpretation (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996) pp. 107–37.
3
Reinhard Strohm, Die italienische Oper (Wilhelmshaven: Heinrichshofen, 1979) p. 250. This is, to my knowledge, the most insightful (and also the most compact) discussion of the socially embedded nature of opera buffa in the literature.

-156-

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.