The use of chorus in baroque opera during the late seventeenth century, with an analysis of representative examples for concert performance.
AuthorMeredith, Victoria Rose.
Committee ChairKnott, Josef
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe intent of this study is twofold: first, to explore the dramatic and musical functions of chorus in baroque operas in Italy, France, and England; second, to identify choral excerpts from baroque operas suitable for present-day concert performance. Musical and dramatic functions of chorus in baroque opera are identified. Following a brief historical overview of the use of chorus in the development of Italian, French, and English baroque opera, representative choruses are selected for analysis and comparison. Examples are presented to demonstrate characteristic musical use of chorus in baroque opera; characteristic dramatic use of chorus in baroque opera; or, the suitability of a chorus for use as concert repertoire. Musical examples are drawn from a twenty-five year period in the late seventeenth century, 1667-1692, as represented in Italy by Alessandro Scarlatti, Antonio Sartorio, and Antonio Cesti; in France by Jean-Baptiste Lully; and in England by Henry Purcell. The results of this study indicate that there are numerous choruses appropriate for concert performance to be found in the English baroque opera repertoire, the semi-operas of Henry Purcell in particular; there are some suitable examples to be found in French baroque operas, although frequently choruses by Lully are harmonically simpler than those by Purcell; and, there are choruses available for extraction from early Italian operas such as those by Monteverdi, but very few to be found in late seventeenth century Italian operas. The document concludes with an appendix of selected baroque opera choruses considered appropriate for concert performance. The appendix includes only those choruses considered to be harmonically, melodically, and textually autonomous, and of sufficient length to be free-standing. Selections chosen for the appendix are drawn from a wider range of composers and a broader time span than those discussed in the body of the paper. Information contained in the appendix includes composer, opera title, date, act and scene, chorus title, voicing, source, and editorial remarks.