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date: 19 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Chapter 15 discusses what Joseph Kerman has called “the most obvious” contribution of music to an opera, characterization. The primacy of music in this respect has been disputed, notably by Peter Kivy, who considers musical characterization to be an illusion. The chapter suggests that a rounded characterization in opera results from collaboration between poet, composer, and singer, and it reaches audiences through music as much as through words and plot. It takes issue with Edward T. Cone’s view that operatic characters are themselves composers, and that diegetic music in opera is impossible; and it discusses operatic acting with reference to a critique by David Hare. Examples are taken from operas by Verdi and Wagner, and allusion is made to, among others, Gluck, Mozart, Weber, Berlioz, Bizet, Debussy, Puccini, Berg, and Britten.

Keywords: characterization, Verdi, Wagner, Mozart, diegetic, Kerman, Kivy, Cone

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