Book Cover

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Series Page, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-x

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

This book addresses a corner of the larger genre of opera buffa—namely a representative sample of the opere buffe performed in Vienna between about 1770 and 1790—and attempts to elucidate the habits, or conventions, of that repertory. I am interested in the ways these works iterate and reiterate their stories about class and gender, mobility and stability, ...

Editorial Policies

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pp. xv-xvi

Abbreviations

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pp. xvii-xviii

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Introduction

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pp. 3-24

To the Burgtheater audience watching Da Ponte and Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro in the spring of 1786, the spectacle of Susanna fending off the unwelcome advances of the Count and finally achieving happiness with Figaro would have seemed quite familiar, notwithstanding the many and well-advertised novelties of the work.1 ...

Part I: Opera Buffa as Entertainment

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1. Opera Buffa as Sheer Pleasure

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pp. 27-51

If the intellectual context of opera buffa in Vienna suggests that its occasion was understood as being “about” pleasure, the theatrical context of operatic performance did not gainsay this.1 The Viennese theatres, like opera theatres all over Europe, provided a variety of pleasures in addition to the show: cards were played,2 ...

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2. Opera Buffa's Conservative Frameworks

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pp. 52-70

Although opera buffa clearly asserts that sheer pleasure is its function, and although its context seems to support the genre’s self-representation, these works do in fact regularly address some of the social and ideological changes working their way through Europe during the eighteenth century. ...

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3. Opera Buffa's Social Reversals

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pp. 71-92

If the outermost framework of opera buffa is its reception and self-presentation as sheer pleasure, the inner frame, so to speak, is its representation of immutable hierarchy as the social fundament of the genre. However, opera buffa would not be comedy if it did not routinely test and stress those conservative frames with a variety of disruptive elements. ...

Part II: The Closed Musical Numbers of Opera Buffa and Their Social Implications

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4. Arias: Some Issues

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pp. 95-109

There are several reasons for looking closely at arias in the course of a study of opera buffa as entertainment. The crudest is that the aria is by far the most common closed musical number in opera buffa, and any consideration of how the genre presents its meanings has to take the aria—the basis of the dramaturgy—into account. ...

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5. Class and Gender in Arias: Five Aria Types

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pp. 110-155

Although this chapter covers the social and dramatic range of arias in this repertory, from the most comic to the most sentimental, from the lowest to the highest, it does justice neither to the incredible variety of arias nor to the virtuosity with which stereotypes and conventions are combined and reconfigured. ...

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6. Ensembles

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pp. 156-195

Ensembles are often taken to exemplify the spirit of opera buffa. This is partly because they are more numerous in, and more characteristic of, the genre than opera seria,1 partly because they focus on groups rather than individuals and are thus felt to embody the spirit of comedy more fully than the seriatim statements of personal positions represented by arias, ...

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7. Beginning and Ending Together: Introduzioni and Finales

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pp. 196-226

Ensemble introduzioni and finales are among the most universal and durable features of Goldonian and post-Goldonian opera buffa. As ensembles, they frame each work with assertions about the primacy of groups and social processes. ...

Appendix A: Annotated Text of I filosofi immaginari: Second-Act Finale

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pp. 227-233

Appendix B: Annotated Text of Fra i due litiganti il terzo gode: Second-Act Finale

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pp. 234-244

Part III: Così fan tutte le Opere? A Masterwork in Context

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8. Così fan tutte in Conversation

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pp. 247-272

I began this book with a partial re-creation of the operatic “conversation” in which Le nozze di Figaro participated: a conversation involving other works, both operatic and literary, other local composers and librettists, the continuing relationship between the performers and the audience, and the broader cultural context. ...

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9. Così fan tutte and Convention

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pp. 273-298

Così fan tutte’s pointed dialogue with La grotta di Trofonio suggests how its specific intertextual references shade into less palpable, if more deeply meaningful, references to and discussions of convention. Moreover, just as the opera’s intertextual references are astonishingly various and convey multiple meanings on many levels, ...

Appendix One: Operas Consulted

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pp. 299-304

Appendix Two: Musical Forms in Opera Buffa Arias

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pp. 305-308

Appendix Three: Plot Summaries for I finti eredi, Le gare generose, and L'incognita perseguitata

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pp. 309-312

Works Cited

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pp. 313-322

Index

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pp. 323-331