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date: 18 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

To a nineteenth-century opera composer, the related terms of versification and prosody implied not only a set of rules to which to adhere but a set of rhetorical choices with distinct dramatic consequences. This chapter discusses samples from the French, German, and Italian repertory, focusing on Verdi’s I due Foscari, Les vêpres siciliennes, and Don Carlos; Adam’s Le brasseur de Preston; Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg; and Weber’s Der Freischütz, interpreting the choices at a composer’s disposal. It shows that these choices can underscore the rhetoric of an aria or phrase, contribute to the caricature of a character, play a role in determining what version of a particular text should be the principal one, and contribute to an understanding of the reasons that an opera is more effective in its original language than in translation.

Keywords: prosody, versification, Wagner, Verdi, Adam, Weber, rhetoric, translation

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