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Home is the tonic or root key of the piece. The more daringly or extensively the music moves away from the home key, the greater the need to affirm the homecoming. The most characteristic extended musical form of the late eighteenth century is the sonata or symphony, a sequence of three or four movements. The first movement is nearly always in sonata form, and this movement will have an extended finale. The last movement, whether a rondo, sonata form, or hybrid between rondo and sonata, will also have a finale, which will serve as the finale both for the movement and the work as a whole.

The finales of Beethoven's fifth and ninth symphones are striking example of this tendency. Operas also have finales. Like other operas of its period, Mozart's operas unfold as a sequence of acts, and each act consists of a sequence of musical numbers, typically identified in a score as such: Mozart took particular care to articulate the endings of his acts with complex numbers that serve as finales. Oddly enough, in the tradition of the "opera buffa" to which Mozart was especially indebted, the biggest bang comes not at the end, as at the fireworks, but in the middle.

Finales are longer than ordinary numbers. Thus an aria will register as short if it takes less than three minutes and as long if it takes more than five minutes to perform. Finales will take ten minutes or more. The finale to the second act of The Marriage of Figaro , probably the most celebrated of all finales, takes over twenty minutes.

Scaling up to pieces of such length takes great architectural skills. The finales of Mozart's operas embody the recursive principle that the meaning of the whole is articulated in the separate parts. The opera is a hierarchy of ordered content the work, the acts, the numbers and their internal structures. Each part speaks as part of the whole, but recursively also speaks for the whole. This is especially evident in the finales. Silence is an important part of speech.

In fact, when we listen to somebody we often attend less to what is said than to what is not said. Silence is also an important part of music. In an orchestral piece at any time this or that instrument is likely to be silent. When everybody is silent you have a general pause, a very powerful special effect. It is obvious that music has meaning. It is less obvious what it means and how it goes about communicating meaning. You cannot make propositional statements in music, such as "The train for Washington leaves in five minutes".

On the other other hand, the meaning of music is no less powerful or suggestive for lacking in the precision of verbal meaning. Some problems of musical meaning are clarified by looking at dance. Consider ball-room dancing and entertain the proposition that all such dancing is a prelude to, or substitute for, making love. Entertain also the proposition that in ordinary social circumstances men are not permitted to touch strange women and women have a right to object to being touched unless the men are their fathers, brothers, husbands, or boyfreinds with different touching rules for each category.

It is obvious that ballroom dancing and similar conventions set up a special set of rules under which men may touch women, women must permit it, and others may not object unless they object to the whole genre as an invention of the devil designed to promote depraved behavior.

It is equally obvious that the special rules of ballroom dancing create opportunities that players in the game seek to take advantage of or ward off as the case may be. That is the point of the game in the first place. Now the general rules for touching vary with the dance, and people familiar with the conventions will know the difference between a foxtrot, waltz, slow waltz, or tango.

If, say, you are a girl and you must dance the next dance with a boy that you really have no interest in but you know that he has a keen interest in you, you keep your fingers crossed that the next dance is not a tango.


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And so it goes. Such things as "tango", "waltz", "rhumba", or whatever exist in the minds of participants in a dance as bundles of associations and memories. Particular rhythms and melodic or harmonic turns set up an elaborate system of expectations and permissions that is instantly decoded and well understood. The meanings communicated by the characteristic turns of dances do not depend on words, but they are no less precise for that.

Dances are socially stratified in complex ways. There is, for instance, one way in which you dance when parents or teachers are in the room, and another way when they're gone though this distinction may be less pronounced now than it was forty years ago. And again, the social coding of a dance does not depend on any words. It can be achieved through musical means alone. The general point to be taken from this is that as soon as music is perceived as a kind of a dance it is likely to acquire a strong semantic dimension.

This is particularly true of seventeenth and eighteenth-century music. This is a musical world in which there is no obvious distinction between "classical" and "popular" music. That distinction is largely an invention of twentieth-century mass culture. But each dance belongs to its place in a social hierarchy, and the hierarchy as a whole can be represented by a set of dances. There are the dances of the court--such as the minuet, the gavotte, and the sarabande--, and there are dances of the village, such as the gig or the musette.

The world of dance is not static. In the eighteenth century, for instance, the waltz is a a lower-class dance belonging to the country. It is the music of the servant Despina in Cosi fan tutte. A century later, the waltz has become the status dance. In Tschaikowsky "Nutcracker Ballet", there are various dances marking ethnicities and class, but the prince and the princess dance the waltz that stands for Universal Dance. There is no intrinsic meaning to a dance. Rather it functions in a system of social differences. It is very much like table manners or dress codes.

In seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century music, the great majority of instrumental pieces are either explicitly named as dances, are parts of "suites" that are sequences of dance movements, or are easily recognized as deriving from dance patterns. This changes in the course of the eighteenth century when the sonata or symphony replace the suite as the dominant multi-movement work. But the memory of dances remains pretty deep in the culture. Listeners continue to hear a piece as a kind of sarabande or gigue, and composers play with those expectations.

Once you understand the dance in a piece of music, you are a long way towards figuring out its meaning. The opposite of open and closed forms is a useful analytical tool for making sense of what happens in an opera. The concept is very general and by no means restricted to music. The more closed a form is the more explicit constraints it observes.

Thus blank verse is more closed than prose, which observes no constraints beyond the rules of the language. Heroic couplets are more closed than blank verse, and the Spenserian stanza with its elaborate rhyme scheme and strict sequence of lines of different length is more closed than heroic couplets. In a Broadway musical, the dialogue is in open form, but a set piece is very closed. In an opera there is a wide range of relatively open and relatively closed forms, and the transitions from one to the other are a major source of dramatic effect.

Do not confuse open vs. A simple song may strike you as much less formal than a heroic recitative, but the former is an instance of a very closed and the latter an instance of a quite open form. The Siciliano takes you back to Nature and to a world of shepherds and pastoral simplicity. Sicily is the Italian pastoral place par excellence. It is the Italian version of Arcadia, the Greek pastoral place. The ritornello that introduces the second part of the Messiah is a Siciliano. The most famous of all Sicilianos is of course Silent Night , and its composer wrote it as such.

Susanna's fourth-act aria is also a Siciliano, and the choice of rhythm suggests an environment of innocent and gratified desire. Literally, song-play, this is the technical for a kind of opera popular in eighteenth-century Germany. The "Singspiel" defines itself against Italian opera because it is performed in the vernacular.

Also, whereas in Italian opera the connective tissue between arias and ensembles consists of secco recitative, a peculiar patter between song and speech, in the Singspiel the connective tissue consists of spoken dialogue. Finally, the "Singspiel" prefers simple musical forms like songs to the virtuosity and complexity of Italian opera. Mozart's two German operas are rooted in the tradition of the "Singspiel" but go far beyond its conventions. The overture and Belmonte's first aria form one musical structure and may be said to anticipate the action of the entire opera.

This sets up expectations of an East-West drama in which a Westerner confronts Eastern despotism. These expectations are both fulfilled and frustrated. Belmonte will succeed in his plan to rescue Konstanza, but only because the Bassa turns out to be superior in the virtues of freedom and forgiveness that the Westerners think specifically theirs. The overture establishes the Eastern setting through a variety of devices. There is nothing Eastern about the theme, as it moves upward "piano", but the orchestration of its "forte" descent with triangles and cymbals takes you to the world of Janissaries or Turkish soldiers.

Of greater structural importance is the insistent turn to the minor mode once the theme has been stated: The most surprising part of the overture is the middle section, a tune in the minor mode that comes out of nowhere. A classical overture normally takes the form of a sonata movement. It will have an opening section or exposition, and before that section returns or is recapitulated, there is a middle section, often called , and sometimes. That middle section is likely to go off in different directions, be full of stops and starts, be rhythmically jagged and harmonically unstable.

But it will still be the same piece of music. But in this overture the middle section is a new piece of music altogether, a new tune at a much slower pace, in a different rhythm, and with an entirely different orchestral texture. It is more like the trio of a minuet or the middle section of a march. The point of this middle section is that it prepares for Belmonte's opening aria.

He arrives on stage singing a simple aria in two stanzas: This is a good example of how musical drama is created by mapping a musical event structure to a verbal event structure. The musical event structure here consists of a theme in the minor that is repeated in the major. Actually, it is a little more complex than that. The theme of Belmonte's aria had first been stated in the minor c-minor It was then repeated in the relative major E-flat major , which is a less dramatic harmonic move than the move from the minor to the major c-minor to C-major.

It is a fairly common move to go from a minor theme to the relative major and then to the major. But Mozart delays the move to the major and makes it coincide with a verbal event: Another cardinal point about musical drama can be extracted from this example. Musical drama is an art of transition: In this case, you hear the theme of Belmonte's aria twice.

First you hear it as a minor interlude that follows on a section that had been in C major but had a way of straying into the minor. So the theme confirms suspicions about the harmonic environment of the overture and the exotic world it portrays. But the second time you hear it, it aggressively dispels the minor mode and celebrates the triumph of the major, which is also the Triumph of Love.

And when you hear it the second time you know that you were deceived the first time round and that you have now heard the real form of the theme. More about Belmonte's aria. Belmonte's aria consists of two stanzas. If it were a song, each stanza would have the same tune this happens in the next number, Osmin's song. But songs are rare in opera, or rather, when a song appears in an opera, it is likely to have a special function—music within music like a play within a play.

From a musical perspective, Belmonte's aria is quite conventional in having three parts. The first part sets the first stanza, and it ends on a cadence in the. This is like the exposition in a sonata movement. The second part of the aria sets the first two lines of the second stanza in which Belmonte says how he endured his sufferings. Actually, the music contradicts him a little: You also notice how the music gets more complex and less tuneful.

The singer starts and stops, and his phrases interweave with phrases in the woodwinds. This section comes to an end on a little cadenza that allows the singer to improvise some but not too many embellishments on the words "all too many". Formally, this section is very much like the of a sonata movement, and its purpose is to set up suspense that is resolved musically by the Return of the. The third part of the aria brings the Return of the , which is here also the Return of the Theme, since the words "Give me now pleasures" are set to the same melody as "Here is it I shall see you.

The words "and bring me to my goal" admirably serve that purpose. You can subdivide the third part into seven bars of the Return of the and 23 bars of Finale. This imbalance points to a crucial feature of Viennese classicism--the music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. It is an extraordinarily goal oriented art, obsessed by what Wallace Stevens called the "rage for order", and when it finally gets where it wants to go it loves to make a fuss about the fact that it has got there. Numbers tell that story nicely. Belmonte's aria is quite short and consists of 59 bars.

The first part or exposition consists of 19 bars, the second part or of 10 bars, and the third part of 30 bars, of which 7 bars are taken up by the Return of the and 23 bars form the finale. Thus the finale is actually the longest part of the aria. Operatic singing is and athletic and virtuoso activity. Composers have mixed feelings about singers preferring the glory of their voices to the music, but they have a way of getting back at them by making things hard for them. There are two ways of making things difficult: Or you can make the singer maintain a note for a long time, which is even harder.

With Belmonte's aria Mozart chose the latter. In the phrase "and bring me to my goal" he has Belmonte hold a high G for almost five bars, while the orchestra plays the tune. That is virtuoso display, but it is also a way of showing Belmonte's intensity and persistence.

This number introduces Osmin and is a charming example of musical action. Belmonte sees Osmin, who is singing a song while working. After the first stanza, he asks him a question, but Osmin ignores him, and sings a second stanza. Ditto for another round. After the third stanza, Belmonte impatiently interrupts him,and a very hostile duet ensues. Belmonte asks questions to which Osmin gives very reluctant answers, but when Osmin asks about Pedrillo, Osmin becomes very angry, and the two quarrel whether Pedrillo is a villain or honest man.

Osmin tells Belmonte to go to the devil, and Belmonte says that he is out of his mind. So much for the verbal event structure of this piece, which does little to advance the plot, but contains much theatrical business, and tells us much about the character of Osmin.

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How is the musical event structure mapped on this verbal structure, and how does dramatic effect result from the interaction of the two? The most striking feature of this scene is the choice and treatment of Osmin's song. A stanzaic song is an intrinsically undramatic medium.


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You sing a song for yourself, and others may join in rather than just listen. Mozart makes the problem of a multi-stanza song the solution and dramatizes the frustration it causes in a reluctant listener. The song by itself tells you a lot about Osmin. In the first stanza he says that you should be nice to a girl friend if you have one. In the second stanza he adds that you had better lock her up because women are unfaithful, and in the third stanza he laments the crisis brought about by the full moon.

The melody of the song is in g-minor. The minor mode is always defined in opposition to the major mode, but this opposition can mean different things. It can mean sad versus happy, or unstable versus stable, but it can also mean exotic versus familiar. These semantic oppositions often overlap, as they do, for instance, in Blues harmonies.

Here the minor mode has a Moorish connotation and denotes the exotic East. The song has a refrain, as do many folk songs, but its simplicity is more apparent than real. Mozart wrote it for a bass with a particularly resonant low range. At the end of each stanza, the singer repeats the last phrase an octave lower and then jumps an octave and a fifth to the high beginning of the refrain. The second stanza is repeated with little change. You have to listen carefully or look at the score to notice that the more lively accompaniment that had appeared in the last three bars of the first stanza now begins four bars earlier.

But there are big changes the third time round, and these are clearly related to the dramatic irony that the midnight abduction Osmin imagines is precisely the event that will happen. A running motif in the woodwinds puts the listener on notice. As Osmin thinks about the dangers of the full moon, he is overcome by anger and suddenly burst into a five-var allegro before catching himself for the end of the stanza and the refrain. Belmonte, who had previously addressed Osmin in polite prose, now also loses his temper in an angry open-form allegro that sets the tone for the ensuing duet.

The first few exchanges of this duet illustrate its character. To Belmonte's exasperated I'm sick of your song. Listen to me Osmin responds with Who are you? What do you want? Musically, the threat of this response is expressed by an abrupt upward climb of the voice, followed by a whip-like downward movement of the orchestra. And sweeping downward scales accompany his Hurry up! I must be gone. The non-communicative nature of this duet is further underscored by the skilful use of repetition.

Belmonte asks twice Is this the Bassa Selim's house before Osmin answers, and in a repetition of this gag beyond this excerpt, Mozart has Belmonte repeat the same question three times. Two additional points can be made about this duet. First, it begins attacca subito, and it almost sounds as if Belmonte interrupted Osmin. One could imagine a composer who used interruption for a dramatic purpose. But that goes against Mozart's sense of form. So Osmin gets to sing the final tonic of his song before Belmonte irrupts rather than interrupts. This is perhaps the most famous aria from this opera, and it is often seen as a milestone in Mozart's art of characterization.

It belongs to a well-known genre of 18th century opera, the revenge aria, in which a character, usually a villain, expresses his desire for vengeance. It is followed by, and is ingeniously connected to, an aria in which Belmonte expresses the ardour and anxiety of love as he is about to see Konstanze again. So it is not enough to see the aria as primarily a character study.

It is part of the sequence From Hatred to Love , which governs the plot of the opera as a whole and is replicated recursively in its constitutive parts. The mapping of the verbal to the musical structure involves repetition as a structuring device and may reflect a deliberate decision to portray repetition as a way of life that is obsessively stuck on itself. The text is simple and consists of four three-line stanzas and two four-line stanzas in which the speaker portrays himself as something of a paranoiac who sees through the intrigues of his enemies and revels at the prospect of their inevitable ruin at his hands:.

This verbal structure is mapped in the following way to a musical structure that includes the familiar sequence of Exposition, X-section, Return of the Tonic, and Affirmation of the Tonic:. The first four stanzas are all used in the Exposition. The first line of the first stanza carries the remarkable main theme, an ostinato repetition of the tonic followed by an accelerating downward trill on F and E and a chromatic upward rush to the dominant.

This very threatening motif is followed by arpeggiated motifs in which the singer works his way first down and then up again to complete the first stanza. The resemblance of this aria in scale and structure to sonata movements is very apparent in the second stanza, which has no striking theme of its own, but serves as a transitional passage from the tonic to the dominant.

A jagged orchestral motif, a kind of downward drumroll followed by repeated staccato notes, may well represent the spies that Osmin imagines around him. A very singable and march-like new motif appears with the third stanza and clearly functions as the second theme of a standard sonata. Then with an ominous chumminess Osmin states that he knows his enemies'tricks.

The phrase, an upward five-finger exercise, is repeated once, and then turns into a whole scale that starts on a low F and leads to an ugly chromatic trill. The fourth stanza serves as a little finale. The last line, in which Osmin revels in his smartness, is repeated four times and brings the Exposition to a close. X-section and Return of the Tonic. The X-section and Return of the Tonic repeat the four stanzas of the Exposition with significant differences. A chromatic trill on c-sharp moves abruptly from the end of the Exposition to the X-section, in which the main theme suddenly appears in d-minor.

Eighteenth-century composers believed that particular keys had special semantic associations, and d-minor was often identified with demonic power or revenge. Boccherini, a contemporary of Mozart's, wrote a symphony with the title House of the Devil , and his listeners would have expected a piece with such a title to be in d-minor, which in fact it is.

You can say that when Osmin suddenly sings in d-minor he steps out of the role of comic villain and reveals the devil that is in him. The d-minor version of the theme is more aggressive. Its chromatic trill moves up rather than down, and whereas the F-major version had stayed within the compass of a fifth, the demonic energy of d-minor drives it up a whole octave. The appearance of the main theme in the wrong but highly revelatory key of d-minor changes the function of the following parts. The transitional second stanza that had led to the second theme in the dominant now prepares for the tonic, and the Return of the Tonic is marked by the march-like motif of the third stanza, a function for which it is well suited.

A big difference comes with the last line of the fourth stanza, in which Osmin revels in his smartness. This had served as a mini-finale for the Exposition and now appears to serve as the real finale. First the quadruple repetition of I am very smart is repeated one octave lower—a nice bit of bravura singing—and then the phrase is set in a manner that has ending written all over it.

The Affirmation and Denial of the Tonic. If the aria had ended at this point listeners would not necessarily miss anything. It has been an aria of some length bars with a respectable coda of 24 bars. But two more codas, one conventional, and the other surprising, are to come and extend the length of the piece by another 50 bars. The dramatic point of this is obvious. Revenge is obsessive, and Osmin cannot let go. Both codas very explicitly signal another start after something that appeared to be over. The first of the two codas sets a new text, a four-line stanza in which Osmin swears by the beard of the prophet that only the death of Pedrillo will satisfy him.

It is quite aggressive in the repetition of a dotted motif that first appears with the words now by the propet's beard , but harmonically it is quite straightforward and can be read as a conventional affirmation of the tonic. It ends with a standard orchestral flourish.

I haven't done anything to you" Osmin explodes into a vision of vengeance. This is set in the remote key of a-minor, Mozart's preferred key for writing alla turca. Mozart in a very interesting letter to his father wrote about the artistic problem facing an artist representing a character who loses it , as we say.

The character may lose it, but the artist may not, and the controlled representation of something out of control is an aesthetic challenge. Mozart manages this problem by pushing repetition to its extreme. The text provides him with a kind of meaningless repetition: To this verbal clue Mozart responds by shortening the cycle of musical repetition. The shorter the unit of repetition, the more obsessive its presence.

Osmin cannot get away from the brief phrases that measure his vindictive rage, and his outburst exhausts itself in an eleven-fold repetition of a curiously insane five-finger exercise in the bass. With a stroke of dramatic economy and genius Mozart reused this 30 second coda in the finale of the third act. This is a sentimental vaudeville in which all the characters praise the magnanimity of the Bassa in forswearing revenge. Mozart spices up this final scene by having Osmin break into the peaceful and almost insipid tableau. This provides the stimulus for a final moment of sublimity in the opera when all the characters join in the codemnation of revenge and the music takes on a more serious and almost sacred tone.

The cardinal point about Belmonte's second aria is that it follows and responds to Osmin's violent outburst. The last twelve bars of that eruption set up a tonal background of an exceptional brutal and exotic a-minor, against which you hear first the A-major chords of a minimal recitative with Belmonte avoiding C-sharp , and then, as the the first note of the aria, the C-sharp that affirms A-major. This is very similar to Belmonte's opening aria, whose theme is the major version of a theme heard in its minor form in the middle section of the overture.

But the effect here is more immediate and dramatic. The minor episode of the overture had been melancholy rather than violent, and the musical memory that hears the c-minor background of the C-major theme must reach across some eighty bars of intervening music. Belmonte's and Osmin's arias are separated by a minute or so of dialogue. In the first aria, the major third that confirms C-major, is the high, but quite short note of the opening phrase.

In the second aria, the major third is held on a crescendo for most of the opening bar. We hear a more intense version of the Belmonte we had encountered before. The aria has a fluid and episodic structure, perhaps suggested by the oddly disjointed words of the libretto:. The first stanza and Exposition. The text of the aria is less a poem than a sequence of three stanza fragments, and even within each stanza, the ideas are loosely joined together.

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The first stanza has two ideas: The beating heart is very obvious in the singer's opening phrases, not to speak of the orchestral accompaniment. Less obvious is the progression in the phrase from anxiety to love. The dominant staccato rhythms yield to drawn out coloraturas on the phrase full of love.

This is the aria in which the singer can demonstrate his technical virtuosity, but the coloraturas are quite strictly subordinated to a dramatic purpose. The second line balances the tears of reunion against the pains of separation. Mozart uses the same phrase for reunion and separation, but on the final word of the second phrase pain , he suddenly moves to the minor and then he repeats the half-line about the pain of separation but sets it in an extravagant syncopated phrase that moves from a-minor to e-minor.

Such a move to the dominant minor is quite rare, and whether or not you are familiar with the technical language of harmony, it is certainly audible as a striking effect. The second stanza and X-section. The second stanza divides into the first two lines, which describe the lover's fear, and the last which creates suspense in the phrase of the swelling bosom.

The music of the first two lines follows directly from the final pain phrase of the first stanza. It stays in e-minor and lasts for only four bars, but the next six bars are given over to a triple repetition of the rising swelling bosom. The singer's phrases are set over an ostinato F-sharp that sounds like a dominant pedal going to an expected b-minor.

An agitated phrase in the violins underscores the sense of expectation. The third stanza and X-section. The setting of the third stanza is based on a surprise. Belmonte has a vision of Konstanze, the way she talks and sighs. Then he wonders whether it was a dream. The visionary quality of this stanza is marked by a harmonic shift.

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The dominant pedal on F-sharp does not lead to an expected tonic of B. Instead after a general pause, the music suddenly starts in D-major, and an ethereal figure in the violins underscores the sudden harmonic shift. There is another way in which Mozart emphasizes the visionary quality of this section. When Belmonte asks Is that her lisping? Are these her sighs?

As with the second stanza, Mozart puts his chief emphasis on the final line. Three times he had repeated the phrase about the swelling bosom, and now he asks three times whether it was all a dream. The third phrasing of the question is particularly insistent. The Return of the Tonic. There is an excellent reason why Mozart puts so many question marks behind the last repetition of Was it a dream? It is time to return to the Tonic, and tonic assertion arises more persuasively from a background of deep questioning.

The Return of the Tonic is set as a rondo, a musical form in which the repetition of the main theme alternates with episodic materials: He chooses the materials from the first part of each stanza but reverses their order so that he ends up with the structure There are good reasons for both those decisions. He does not repeat the materials from the second part because he had greatly elaborated them the first time round.

And he reverses the order because the first episode was in the minor, and he wants to place the minor episode late in his piece so that the final appearance of the major theme will emerge from a gloomy background. Mozart also makes some changes to the main theme. When it returns for the first time he observes the slow-fast structure it had in its original appearance.

But when it returns for the second and third time, he sets the entire first line of the first stanza to the beating heart phrase and gives it the character of a rondo theme. A triple repetition of the loving heart phrase and a final ritornello make up the coda of the piece. Blondchen's aria opens the second act and is closely related to the duet with Osmin that follows. The two scenes together are a major contribution to the gender politics of the opera.

Blondchen is to Konstanze as Emilia is to Desdemona. She is somewhere between a servant and a friend. She complements her mistress' high-minded perspective with a pragmatic view. But she is not only honest and courageous, but also English , and the political ramifications of her origin are important to the duet. The entire text of the aria is set in the Exposition.

Restless and jagged figures in the orchestra mimic the various kinds of boorish male behavior that Blondchen complains about. On the three words Bullying, Quarreling, Griping the celli and double bass play an angry upward staccato scale. A little cadenza allows the singer to show off her stuff. There is no X-section in this aria, and the Return of the Tonic follows immediately on the Exposition. The first stanza is repeated literally. But in the second stanza there are elaborations and intensifications. The first time round, the last two lines of the second stanza had been repeated and made the text of the mini-finale.

Now the ending is elaborated. The entire second stanza is repeated. We hear twice about the boorish behavior of men, and the second time the celli and bases improve on their angry upward runs. The biggest change however has to do with the cadenza. Because after the Return of the Tonic the second part stays in A-major rather than modulates to E-major, the singer's cadenza starts a fourth higher, on A rather than E.

The first time, the singer's cadenza had moved her from E to the high B a twelfth above the starting note. The second time round, she starts higher, and the cadenza takes her only to a tenth, a C-sharp that is a whole tone higher than the B and is a high note for a soprano. But then the cadenza is repeated, and this time the singer goes all the way up to an E that is at the very outer range of a soprano's voice. So there is some vocal athleticism at work. A little postlude concludes the aria.

It is an iron rule of opera that women prefer tenors. They will sometimes put up with a baritone, but never with a bass, and the relationship of a bass with a soprano is a matter of sexual coercion or paternal benevolence, unless, as in The Magic Flute it is one turning into the other. The duet between Blondchen and Osmin intensifies the general theme of sexual coercion by turning the despotic Turkish bass against the freedom-loving English soprano.

Why is Blondchen English and why does this duet make such a fuss about it? The answer to that question tells us at the same time much about the symbolic meaning of the Orientalizing setting of the opera. Belmonte and Konstanze are Spanish noblemen. Their story is set against the background of deep hostility between Catholic Spain and the Turkish Empire. In this opposition the West understands itself as the place of enlightened order against the despotism of the East. But there is also an intra-Western opposition that pits an authoritarian and theocratic state against an enlightened and secular civil society.

In that opposition, Spain is always the place of reaction. If Spain is in the cultural imagination the most authoritarian and traditional European country, England is the most democratic and progressive place. You associate freedom with England, but not with Spain. And the Habsburg Empire with its large hinterland in Eastern Europe was always in a state of cold or hot war with the Ottoman Empire. But in a world where talk of freedom was in the air, was the Habsburg Empire more like Osmin or more like Blondchen?

So the aggressive identification of Blondchen as an Englishwoman with ideas about political freedom and the emancipation of women, carries a fair amount of ideological baggage, and the sentimental plot has its clear political valences. The duet follows a quarrel in dialog between an Osmin who demands total subordination and a Blondchen, who speaks about being born to freedom but also pulls rank because through Konstanze she can get to the Bassa and through him back at Osmin.

The duet epitomizes the quarrel in musical form, a very common structure of musical theatre. Like the end of the first act, the action of the duet is based on a theatrical event. Blondchen tells Osmin to leave, and the external action is generated by his reluctance to leave, and Blondchen's threats to scratch his eyes out, if necessary.

And give your women their will. If one gets such a fruit. Osmin So sprichst du mit mir? You talk to me like that? Jetzt musst du gehen. Now you must go. The text divides clearly into three parts. The first part is built around two exchanges of couplets connected by stichomythy. In the first set of couplets Osmin says he will go, while she expresses her dislike of him.

Then he says he will not go until she promises obedience, while she rejects his command. The middle section consists of two four-line stanzas. Osmin laments the folly of Englishmen who let their womenfolk do what they want. Blondchen thinks of herself as "born to freedom" and will retain her dignity even in slavery. In the third section Blondchen once more tells Osmin to leave in three stichomythic exchanges.

In a final couplet she threatens to tear his eyes out, and he agrees to leave. The triple structure of the words is echoed in the music, whose blueprint is quite similar to the overture: The stichomythic exchange that follows can be interpreted as an X-section and has the jagged and open form one finds often in that part of a sonata. Mozart then plays a musical joke. When Osmin asks for an oath of obedience, he moves slowly to a low E-flat at bottom of the bass range before jumping suddenly to a high F.

Blondchen imitates him mockingly, moving to the very bottom of the soprano range and then jumps to a high B-flat. The middle section is the stroke of genius in this duet. It is set in a very Moorish c-minor, broadly reminiscent of the the middle section of the overture and Osmin's opening song. It is quite literally a duet in that there is a melodic line, played either by an oboe or sung by Blondchen, and a bass line played by a bassoon or sung by Osmin.

The combination of oboe and bassoon gives the piece its exotic flavor. Osmin sings the first two lines of his stanza in unison with the bassoon. Then Blondchen takes over from the oboe and sings her first tow lines. Then Blondchen and Osmin join as melody and bass in the second part of their stanzas. This section ends in g-minor, and you may think of it as the Exposition to a very short sonata.

This is followed by a very brief but powerful X-section in g-minor in which Osmin three times exclaims O Englishmen and then skips from the first to the third and fourth lines of his stanza. You understand a lot about the complexities of European Orientalism if you can unpack the whole set of meanings associated with Osmin's triple exclamation against Englishmen. C-minor returns with the repetition of the third and fourth lines. The Return of the Tonic in the third section is marked by an orchestral flourish that yields to patter song in which Osmin and Blondchen fight it out musically.

Half of this section is given over to a coda built largely on the words "Your eyes are at risk" and "Quiet, I will go". The point of such finales is never to develop further but to affirm a position with frequent repetition. This finale to the second act of the opera is the core of the work, and its action is the best example of the recursive principle by which the central plot of the opera as a whole reappears in its constituent parts.

The text divides or is articulated by the music into five parts. It is a very simple text with no great pretensions to literary power. But it has some interest in casting the drama of physical separation and reunion as a psychological drama of quarrel and reconciliation, with distrust at the root of quarrel. The text clearly comes from a pre-feminist world, but in putting the blame squarely on the men, you may read it as an instance of self-critique that is available, and indeed quite common, in a patriarchal order. In the first part the lovers express their initial joy of reunion.

Each of the lovers has a three-line stanza, and there are connecting one-liners. The high-minded Konstanze and Belmonte express romantic emotions. The more practical Pedrillo and Blondchen talk about the details of the escape. A four-line stanza expresses their joint delight. Konstanze Ach Belmonte, ach mein Leben! Oh Belmonte, oh my life! Belmonte Ach Konstanze, ach mein Leben! Oh Konstanze, oh mylife! Nun muss aller Kummer schwinden! Now all grief must pass!

Idomeneo - Wikipedia

Let me kiss them away! Belmonte Ja, noch heute wirst du frei! Yes, today you will be free. Pedrillo Also Blondchen, hast's verstanden? So, Blondchen, did you get it? Wel'll be here at midnight. We see the end of our suffering. In the second section, the men express their jealous suspicions. After embarrassed beating about the bush, Belmonte asks whether Konstanze loves the Bassa. Pedrillo more drastically asks whether Osmin forced Blondchen to have sex with him:.

Many a scecret worry. Pedrillo Doch Blondchen, ach! The ladder, Bist du wohl so viel wert? Are you worth it all? Have you lost it? Pedrillo Doch Herr Osmin. And exercise them on you? Oh how you make me said! That would be a bad bargain. In the third section, the women answer. Blondchen unceremoniously slaps Pedrillo's face. Konstanze, the virtuoso of martyrdom, puts on a great show of injured indignation. Both women unite in sisterly solidarity against the irrational jealousy of their menfolk. At the end of this section the women in a four-line stanza make a general statement of male jealousy, and the men, in a similar statement, argue that such indignation is a proof of constancy.

Blondchen Da, nimm die Antwort drauf! There is your answer! Now I am enlightened. Belmonte Konstanze, ach vergib! Konstanze Ob ich dir treu verblieb? Whether I remained faithful to you! There is no doubt about it. And free of all suspicion. In the fourth section the men plead forgiveness, but the women take their time before they grant it.

Pedrillo Liebstes Blondchen, ach, verzeihe! Dear Blondchen, please forgive me. That only beats for you? Dearest Blondchen, please forgive! In the fifth and very short part, the four lovers agree to put all this behind them and sing a hymn to praise love and banish jealousy. All Wohl es sei nun abgetan! Let us put this behind us! Es lebe die Liebe! Nur sie sei uns teuer, Nichts fache das Feuer Der Eifersucht an. Love only be dear to us. Let nothing stir the fire Of jealousy. Musically, these five sections can be reduce to three: Or to put it thematically: The first section unfolds in a very orderly fashion and introduces the four singers of the quartet separately and together.

There is a ritornello stating the main theme. Then the two lovers share a stanza. First they alternate between its four lines, then they combine in a proper love duet, singing the third and fourth lines together. The practical servant lovers dispense with protestations of love and concentrate on the details of the flight. A trill figure in the violins marks their less serious status and also indicates that the key has changed to the dominant.

Blondchen's stanza is set to the same music as Pedrillo's, and their reunion takes just twelve bars compared with the 38 bars given over to Konstanze and Belmonte. But the change of pace and texture enlivens the total effect. After a transitional passage of a single bar the Tonic returns with the four lovers sharing in a hymn of joy at past suffering. They now sing the theme that the Ritornello previously had played so that this theme now appears in an intensified form. It only takes up the first two lines of their hymn, and the third and fourth lines are set differently.

A bubbling instrumental figure in the violins anticipates the delight of which they now sing, and this figure plays an important role in the little coda for this section that Mozart sets to a repetition of the third and fourth lines. The lovers' easy goodbye to their sufferings sounds too good to be true, and it is. Doubts arise, and the process of raising and dispelling them is painful. Then Pedrillo chimes in and the tension mounts as the music continues for almost two minutes in a harmonically, melodically, and rythmically disturbed environment.

Urged on by the women, the men now state their questions. They do so together in a musical form that is much more closed. Belmonte's nobler question Do you love the Bassa? The men's confidence or impudence is marked by a change from g-minor to E-flat major. The questions are asked in forty seconds, as compared with the previous two minutes of beating about the bush.

To point to such temporal ratios may sound primitive but it points to an important aspect of the composer's musical strategy: In the women's answers the music takes on a more open and obviously dramatic form. The whole weight of Konstanze's indignation and disappointment comes down on Belmonte as a crushing psychological punishment in the form of downward sweeping accompagnato phrase in b-flat minor.

The soubrette Blondchen sings a quick cadential phrase in B-flat major and slaps Belmonte's face. That is the central and psychologically lowest moment, from which the finale slowly moves upward towards reconciliation and harmony. The immediate consequence, however, is anger on the women's, and mortificaton on the men's, side. For ten bars of an allegro assai, Mozart stays in b-flat minor, a rare key that in Idomeneo he explicitly associates with the apparition of a monster. It is possible that Mozart thought of the "green-eyed monster" in Othello or of Emilia's words They are not ever jealous for the cause But jealous for they're jealous.

IDOMENEO RE DI CRETA - Placido è il mar

It is a monster Begot upon itself, born on itself. In the following episode there is an interesting tension between the words and the music, which is, as it were, ahead of the words. The lovers continue to sing as a chorus. The women express their general indignation at male jealousy, whereas the men find in that very indignation a proof of constancy.

If you were wondering what would follow from the previous suspense, it is impossible to listen without hearing that things are taking a turn for the better. If you look at the score, you notice that the piece is in A-major, Mozart's preferred key for lovers, and nearly always a key for markedly amiable music.

The ritornello with its woodwind coloring takes you into a pastoral world, but when the four lovers begin to sing as a chorus, a touch of solemnity is added. You might say that the music goes to church. The natural and the sacred often go together in Mozart, especially when he writes serious music about marriage, a sacrament for him as a devout Catholic, and the central meeting place of the natural and the sacred in human life.

From the solemn and serene harmonies ofthe pastoral arises the men's plea for forgiveness. Pedrillo begins with a flowing theme that has a rondo character to it and moves irresistibly forward. The Belmonte picks it up. The women sing against it in various shades of how could you?

The music slows down again to a formal scene of repentance and forgiveness. The men apologize and ask for forgiveness against a musical background of a dominant pedal with weird and shifting chromatic harmonies in the woodwinds. The formal apology is owed a formal forgiveness, and it comes, in a slightly stiff and deliberately old-fashioned counterpoint from the two women.

Here the music once more goes to church, and Mozart writes for six bars in the manner of J. The oblique bows to church music have a deep structural function: After a general pause, the long delayed tonic D-major at last returns. It returns at first in a delicate transitional episode on the theme of now that it's over, what next? The finale has been so long and complex that it requires a substantial Affirmation of the Tonic.

This happens in a bar coda, which is introduced by a wild instrumental motif in the violins and continues at breakneck speeed with some contrapuntal fireworks thrown. Not much happens in this coda: But so much has happenend in the extended middle section of this drama of broken and restored trust that it needs saying over and over again. Mozart's Marriage of Figaro is based on a play by the French writer Beaumarchais. Beaumarchais was a writer who dabbled in literature, journalism, politics, and business, became famous and notorious in the decade preceding the French Revolution, and was at different times of his life quite rich and quite poor.

The Figaro character is a bit of a self-portrait. It is not an accident that one of the most famous French newspapers is named after the writer-intellectual Figaro-Beaumarchais. Both of Beaumarchais's plays are set in Seville. From a French perspective, Spain was a backward country, dominated by Catholicism, untouched by the Enlightenment, given to hierarchy, privilege, and a particularly jealous patriarchal social structure. Seville is the major city of the South of Spain, which because of its long association with Islam, had a particularly exotic valence for Europeans.

So Seville symbolizes for Beaumarchais everything that is wrong with and interesting about the old world. The idea that Spain is an intriguingly old-fashioned, sexy, and exotic place also sits behind an opera like Carmen , which was written about a century after The Marriage of Figaro. Figaro is the modern man on the make. He is actually a modern version of a very ancient thing: Just like Oedipus, he does not know his parents and must make his own way in the world without the help of family or wealth that provide the support structure for the children of privilege.

But Figaro is smart and entrepreneurial, and he finds the traditional world of Seville a perfect opportunity for getting ahead. He is much more interested in getting ahead than in improving the world, by the way. There is an old lawyer, Dr. Bartolo, who wants to marry his rich and pretty ward, Rosina. But a young Count by the name of Almaviva is in love with Rosina as well, and Rosina is in love with him.

Figaro teams up with Almaviva and as his loyal and scheming servant he manages to wrest the ward Rosina from the clutches of the ogre guardian Bartolo. It is the plot of Rossini's famous opera, which was wirtten some thirty years after Mozart. With it he demonstrated a mastery of orchestral color, accompanied recitatives, and melodic line. Mozart fought with the librettist, the court chaplain Varesco, making large cuts and changes, even down to specific words and vowels disliked by the singers too many "i"s in "rinvigorir", which in Italian are pronounced as in b ee.

Idomeneo was performed three times in Munich. Later in Mozart considered but did not put into effect revisions that would have brought the work closer into line with Gluck's style; this would have meant a bass Idomeneo and a tenor Idamante.

Idomeneo, K.366 (Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus)

A concert performance was given in at the Palais Auersperg in Vienna. For this, Mozart wrote some new music, made some cuts, and changed Idamante from a castrato to a tenor. Today Idomeneo is part of the standard operatic repertoire. There are several recordings of it see below , and it is regularly performed. In there was a controversy over the cancelling of a production directed by Hans Neuenfels at the Deutsche Oper Berlin see Idomeneo controversy. The approach of the th anniversary of Idomeneo' s premiere placed some major European opera houses in a quandary: The solution hit on in Munich and Vienna was to have Idomeneo adapted for modern tastes, but to show due reverence to Mozart's genius by entrusting the adaptations to famous twentieth-century opera composers with impeccable credentials as Mozarteans.

Thus Munich commissioned an Idomeneo revision from Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari , performed in , and the same year the Vienna State Opera presented a distinctively interventionist version of the score by Richard Strauss. For example, Ilia's opening aria " Padre, germani, addio! A few major changes to the plot were made as well, such as changing princess Elettra to priestess Ismene. Critics have noted that Strauss's additions contain an interesting blend of the classical style of composition and Strauss's own characteristic sound.

The overture , in D major and common time , is in a modified sonata form in which the development is but a very short transition section connecting the exposition with the recapitulation. Other conventional hallmarks of the sonata form are apparent: The overture concludes with a coda ending in D major chords. These chords, soft and tentative, turn out not to be a resolution of the overture in the tonic but chords in the dominant of G minor , which is the home key of the scene that immediately follows.

Island of Crete , shortly after the Trojan War. Ilia, daughter of the defeated Trojan King Priam , has been taken to Crete after the war. She loves Prince Idamante, son of Idomeneo, but hesitates to acknowledge her love. Idamante frees the Trojan prisoners in a gesture of good will.

He tells Ilia, who is rejecting his love, that it is not his fault that their fathers were enemies. Trojans and Cretans together welcome the return of peace, but Electra , daughter of the Greek King Agamemnon , is jealous of Ilia and does not approve of Idamante's clemency toward the enemy prisoners. Arbace, the king's confidant, brings news that Idomeneo has been lost at sea while returning to Crete from Troy. Electra, fearing that Ilia, a Trojan, will soon become Queen of Crete, feels the furies of the underworld rise up in her heart. Idomeneo is saved by Neptune god of the sea and is washed up on a Cretan beach.

There he recalls the vow he made to Neptune: Idamante approaches him, but because the two have not seen each other for a long time, recognition is difficult. When Idomeneo finally realizes the youth that he must sacrifice for the sake of his vow is his own child, he orders Idamante never to seek him out again. Grief-stricken by his father's rejection, Idamante runs off.

Cretan troops disembarking from Idomeneo's ship are met by their wives, and all praise Neptune. At the king's palace, Idomeneo seeks counsel from Arbace, who says another victim could be sacrificed if Idamante were sent into exile. Idomeneo orders his son to escort Electra to her home, Argos. Idomeneo's kind words to Ilia move her to declare that since she has lost everything, he will be her father and Crete her country. As she leaves, Idomeneo realizes that sending Idamante into exile has cost Ilia her happiness as well as his own.

Electra welcomes the idea of going to Argos with Idamante. At the port of Sidon a fictional city of Crete , Idomeneo bids his son farewell and urges him to learn the art of ruling while he is away. Before the ship can sail, however, a storm breaks out, and a sea serpent appears. Recognizing it as a messenger from Neptune, the king offers himself as atonement for having violated his vow to the god. In the royal garden, Ilia asks the breezes to carry her love to Idamante, who appears, explaining that he must go to fight the serpent.