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286Comparative Drama deeply tragic play, but without any violent dramatic action. At the final curtain, there [the Tyrones] still are, trapped within each other by the past, each guilty and at the same time innocent, scorning, loving, pitying each other, understanding and yet not understanding at all, forgiving but still doomed never to be able to forget." On balance, however, only around fifteen or sixteen of these letters to Nathan contain material substantial enough to generate and sustain any widespread interest, even among theater scholars. It will prove interesting to see just what proportion of them Travis Bogard and Jackson Bryer finally decide warrants inclusion in their collection of selected letters (with concordance) that Yale University Press will soon publish. THOMAS P. ADLER Purdue University Sandra Corse. Opera and the Uses of Language: Mozart, Verdi, and Britten. Rutherford, New Jersey: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1987. Pp. 163. $24.50. Sandra Corse's book Opera and the Uses of Language deals with the creative interaction of a basically literary form, the opera libretto, and the musical forms used to transform that libretto into an opera. The main body of this study consists of analytical chapters on Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro and The Magic Flute, Verdi's Otello and Falstaff, and Britten's Owen Wingrave and Death in Venice. Since, in most cases, the works she has chosen to analyze are based upon famous dramas or works of fiction, there is the additional dimension of estimating the force of the changes made from original work to libretto stage. While one would not call Professor Corse's work by that intimidating (to some) word "deconstructive," it is apparent that some of the underlying concepts shaping this study come from post-structuralism. Corse tends to stress the incompatibility of words and music; in the works under discussion , what is given the most rigorous analysis are the discontinuities between language and meaning, between language and music. The resulting analyses work best when the creator, such as Britten, is of our own century and sees the world as a more absurd place than Mozart and Verdi did. The strength of this book is the application of contemporary concepts of language (particularly in relation to sexual politics) to an old art form; the weakness of this approach is that old art and new ideas sometimes result in an ideological mismatch. Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro is given a feminist interpretation which would have bemused the three men closest to its creation. We are told that since all women of the eighteenth century lacked "power," the Countess has little power before the Count, and Susanna has no power to decide her destiny in the face of the Count's intentions. What results in the application of contemporary feminist concepts to the work of Da Ponte and Beaumarchais is that we lose sight of the vast difference in power between the Countess and her servant; and even on the level of a servant, Susanna has been left the power to say "yes" or "no." Reviews287 What in Mozart and Da Ponte is a delightful comedy of sexual diplomacy and subterfuge when interpreted from the standpoint of sexual "power" becomes a case of sexual harassment. In the history of opera buffa from La Serva Padrona onwards, the presumption that servants and women are powerless will result in some very strange misplacements of emphasis. Corse's definition of "droit du seigneur" (p. 21) is far more general than a dictionary definition, which restricts it to the wedding night. On Mozart's The Magic Flute, Corse finds fertile ground for her study of self-reflexive art forms, especially in the notorious reversal of heroine Queen of the Night and villain Sarastro of Act I into villainess Queen and hero Sarastro of Act H. Corse seems to feel that the bourgeois moralistic sentiments of such numbers as the duet "Bei Männern welche Liebe fühlen" represent the characters stepping out of their dramatic roles, and that commonsense morality clashes with the fairy tale, "opera mágica," atmosphere of the rest of the plot. She says, "The moralistic statements attempt to undermine the opera itself by excluding and obscuring the...


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pp. 286-288
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