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Il Trittico, Turandot, and Puccini's Late Style

Andrew Davis

Publication Year: 2010

Giacomo Puccini is one of the most frequently performed and best loved of all operatic composers. In Il Trittico, Turandot, and Puccini's Late Style, Andrew Davis takes on the subject of Puccini's last two works to better understand how the composer creates meaning through the juxtaposition of the conventional and the unfamiliar -- situating Puccini in past operatic traditions and modern European musical theater. Davis asserts that hearing Puccini's late works within the context of la solita forma allows listeners to interpret the composer's expressive strategies. He examines Puccini's compositional language, with insightful analyses of melody, orchestration, harmony, voice-leading, and rhythm and meter.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Musical Meaning and Interpretation


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-x

Sometimes it seems the people who contribute to a project like this are too numerous to thank. Any omissions here are unintentional, and I regret them; any errors or shortcomings that remain in the book are I am grateful to the University of Houston for a New Faculty Research Program grant that allowed me to write a substantial portion...

Note on Scores, Librettos, and Translations

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pp. xi-xiii

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Introduction: Hearing Puccini

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pp. 1-7

This book has grown out of a deep fascination with the experience of Puccini’s operas: the ways the music on the stage moves the listeners in the theater. Like many commentators on Puccini from his own lifetime and more recently, I have always found in his music a contrast between the new, or unfamiliar, and the traditional (in the sense of stylistically...

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One Stylistic Plurality, Narrative, Levels of Discourse, and Voice

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pp. 8-27

Il trittico and Turandot provide good laboratories for exploring the technical means behind the theatrical efficacy of Puccini’s late operas. One feature emerges above all others as key to these works’ identities: each is distinguished by a musical-stylistic plurality in which multiple, distinct musical styles or compositional approaches are juxtaposed in time and...

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Two The Romantic Style in Late Puccini

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pp. 28-65

Hearing Puccini’s Romantic style as the marked, non-congruent music in the late works requires a more detailed understanding of some of its most salient features and their expressive functions. All of these are seemingly deployed with one goal in mind: the foregrounding of the singing voice above all other textural components. The style is characterized...

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Three Expressive Uses of Convention in Il tabarro

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pp. 66-107

An examination of formal and expressive strategies in Puccini’s late operas naturally begins with Il tabarro, not only because this is the opening, anchoring work for the Trittico but also because the piece is a definitive example of Puccini’s strategies in the late works—especially the systematic withholding of the lyric, Romantic style so as to make its ...

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Four Formal Multivalence in Suor Angelica

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pp. 108-137

Even with the intervening intermission, the monophonic, ancient chant-like opening of Suor Angelica could not be more striking in its divergence from the intensely violent ending just witnessed in Il tabarro. But the contrast masks the fact that Angelica’s opening exhibits nearly the same organizational procedures as the opening of Il tabarro, and that ...

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Five Humor and Filmic Effects in the Structure of Gianni Schicchi

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pp. 138-167

In some ways Gianni Schicchi is the most musically conventional of the three Trittico panels, but in other important ways this concluding opera is also the most complex, least conventional among the three. Its conventionality results from its comprising no fewer than five closed set pieces (see table 5.1)—as many as were in Tabarro (three) and Angelica...

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Six Puccini’s Solution: Integrating the Conventional and Unconventional

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pp. 168-221

Turandot is a fitting end for Puccini’s career. The subject is eminently amenable to the directions in which he was moving, especially toward a solution to the formal problem posed in the Trittico: how to achieve a near-total integration of conventionality with unconventionality—that is, an approach that arranges kinetic and static movements into set...

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Epilogue: Late Style and Puccini

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pp. 222-238

Late style as an aesthetic category has been explored in various disciplines, including music, for some years now.1 This book has attempted to locate a late style in Puccini’s music, and to situate Puccini among the growing cadre of composers for whom a late style is recognized in their output. I intend here, as an epilogue, a speculative, contextualizing...


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pp. 239-275


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pp. 277-299


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pp. 301-309

E-ISBN-13: 9780253004727
E-ISBN-10: 0253004721
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253355140

Page Count: 328
Illustrations: 33 music exx.
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Musical Meaning and Interpretation