Title

An Examination of Italian Commedia dell'Arte in Mozart's Opera Buffa

Presenter Information

Caitlin Stave

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC Ballroom A

Start Date

21-5-2015

End Date

21-5-2015

Keywords

Opera, Comedy, Commedia dell'Arte

Abstract

The operas of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart are fascinating examples of the genre as it existed in the Classical Period. As the creators of the first operas drew upon the example of Greek tragedy, so was Mozart influenced by dramatic traditions of the past. In particular, there is considerable evidence of the influence of the Italian Renaissance dramatic tradition known as commedia dell’arte on his operatic dramas and the characters within them. This presentation will demonstrate that elements of commedia dell’arte are strongly present in several of Mozart's operas, namely Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte. I will address the origin of commedia dell’arte and identify the character archetypes that grew out of this art form. I will then provide a brief synopsis of each opera after which I will discuss the characters and their similarities to their corresponding commedia archetypes. My presentation will also examine the similarities between commedia scenarios and comedic opera plots and I will briefly discuss the voice types, called fachs, which evolved in collusion with character and scenic archetypal development.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Gayla Blaisdell

Department/Program

Music

Additional Mentoring Department

Music

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May 21st, 1:50 PM May 21st, 2:10 PM

An Examination of Italian Commedia dell'Arte in Mozart's Opera Buffa

SURC Ballroom A

The operas of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart are fascinating examples of the genre as it existed in the Classical Period. As the creators of the first operas drew upon the example of Greek tragedy, so was Mozart influenced by dramatic traditions of the past. In particular, there is considerable evidence of the influence of the Italian Renaissance dramatic tradition known as commedia dell’arte on his operatic dramas and the characters within them. This presentation will demonstrate that elements of commedia dell’arte are strongly present in several of Mozart's operas, namely Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte. I will address the origin of commedia dell’arte and identify the character archetypes that grew out of this art form. I will then provide a brief synopsis of each opera after which I will discuss the characters and their similarities to their corresponding commedia archetypes. My presentation will also examine the similarities between commedia scenarios and comedic opera plots and I will briefly discuss the voice types, called fachs, which evolved in collusion with character and scenic archetypal development.