Eric Salzman and Thomas Desi

in The New Music Theater

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780195099362
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199864737 | DOI:

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This chapter begins by tracing the old and widespread association of music and language through the history of traditional opera to the early 20th century. It then discusses some of the specific uses of words in music: storytelling, the libretto, and musical dramaturgy. Modern treatments include both linear and non-linear storytelling, the dynamics of subject matter often including contemporary news events and personalities as well as social situations. Spoken text with music (“melodrama”) and the issue of whether music itself can tell stories are discussed. The chapter ends with a section on “no sense or nonsense”, or how music theater sometimes moves away from storytelling to found text, and even to abandon words completely.

Keywords: libretto; musical dramaturgy; melodrama

Chapter.  7929 words. 

Subjects: Opera

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