The Possibility of Opera

Mauro Calcagno

in From Madrigal to Opera

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780520267688
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520951525 | DOI:
The Possibility of Opera

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The singers' use of pure voice as empty, nonverbal sounding music is traced back to the aesthetics of Marino. It enables singers to shift the audience's perspective toward the narrative power of music per se, as well as toward themselves. Today, the opera director, by locating and moving the singers within the performance space, becomes yet another agent in the chain of appropriations inaugurated by the Petrarchist poets and the madrigalists; and in filmed productions, the video director becomes the last link of this chain. In the highly relativistic world of Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea, characters such as Otho and the two soldiers provide a perspective on, respectively, Poppea and Seneca. Thanks to the focalizing effect generated by these characters, but also depending on the choices of opera or video directors, the audience perceives the events of the opera in a particular way, absorbing a worldview conveyed by the performance and mediating it with its own.

Keywords: opera; madrigal; Baroque music; Claudio Monteverdi; Giambattista Marino; music in Venice; performance studies; media studies; narrative studies; Italian studies; subjectivity; self

Chapter.  11440 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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