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Ancient Drama in Music for the Modern Stage by Peter Brown, Suzana Ograjensek

By Peter Brown, Suzana Ograjensek

Opera was once invented on the finish of the 16th century in imitation of the intended kind of supply of historical Greek tragedy, and, considering that then, operas in line with Greek drama were one of the most crucial within the repertoire. This number of essays through prime experts within the fields of Classics, Musicology, Dance reviews, English Literature, glossy Languages, and Theatre reports presents an extremely wide-ranging and specified assessment of the connection among the 2 genres. in view that tragedies have performed a miles greater half than comedies during this department of operatic historical past, the amount commonly concentrates at the tragic repertoire, yet a bankruptcy on musical models of Aristophanes' Lysistrata is integrated, in addition to discussions of incidental track, a crucial a part of the musical reception of historical drama, from Andrea Gabrieli in 1585 to Harrison Birtwistle and Judith Weir within the overdue 20th and early twenty-first centuries.

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It’s a fine blend of Wagner’s nineteenth-century Hellenism with his extension of the Dennis–Eccles–Scheibe–Lessing–Beethoven tradition, a tradition which had a Hellenic origin too. After the Funeral March, and arguably as a result of it, the big symphonic interlude in opera comes to flourish, for example in Debussy’s score for Maeterlinck’s Pelle´as and Me´lisande and Berg’s for Bu¨chner’s Wozzeck. The interlude in the Debussy after Me´lisande is tormented by Golaud in the presence of King Arkel and that in the Berg after Wozzeck is drowned beneath a blood-red moon are especially choric in Wagner’s sense: ‘sung, so to speak, by the orchestra’.

23 By the mid-eighteenth century, however, ‘choragus’ seems to have lost most of its currency as a term referring to contemporary theatre practice, at least where opera was concerned, perhaps because the word’s natural habitat was the court or college at a time when the operatic world as a whole had become more and more dominated by commercially-minded impresarios in the public theatre: men of a tribe founded back in the Venice of the 1640s by the likes of Marco Faustini, and men who would be unlikely to include a corago on their pay-roll.

For the sake of completeness, it is worth noting in passing that several scholars prefer to backdate it to the staging of Peri’s Dafne (Florence, Carnival 1597/8), whilst few have supported the view advocated several times by Kirkendale that ‘the first extant opera is not Peri’s Euridice . . but Anima e Corpo [Rome, February 1600] of Cavalieri’: Kirkendale (2003), 636 f. 2 Fubini (1976), 110–21. 3 Largely reconstructed, it should be added, in an indirect and mediated fashion, given that the treatise writers in question had a scant or non-existent knowledge of Greek, and sometimes even of Latin: for Vicentino, see Maniates and Palisca (1996), xxv–xxxvi, for Galilei, see Palisca (2003), xxi ff.

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