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date: 21 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Opera buffa is cited as the source for the topical variety of classical style instrumental music. It is also cited as a topic within instrumental music. This essay argues, with examples from works by Haydn, Mozart, Galuppi, Cimarosa, and Martín y Soler, that musical devices of opera buffa were not on the whole exported to instrumental music but rather were translated to the subtler and more refined instrumental idiom. When opera buffa is identified as a topic in instrumental music, it is more often the presumed gestural world of the comic stage that is evoked than the actual musical devices most characteristic of the genre. And when we study topics in opera—either buffa or seria—it is worth taking into account that they have the capacity not only redundantly to confirm verbal and visual cues, but also to complicate them by suggesting irony or parody, among other things.

Keywords: topic, opera buffa, opera seria, Mozart, Galuppi, Haydn, Cimarosa, Martín y Soler, irony, parody

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