Friday, April 10, 2015

Puccini made conversation beautiful

One of the great things about the operas of Giacomo Puccini is that he managed to remove those "dead spots" known as recitativo that had previously been used for extended conversations. They were sections where the composers used what basically amounted to a musical "chant" in which they fast-forwarded to the next aria or other major number. Of course, much of the actual plot of the opera was in these sections, so you could not just do away with them, but what folks really wanted to hear was the arias, so you did not spend any more time on them than you had to.

Puccini managed to write his mature operas like he was writing a symphony, somehow maintaining the beauty and the tension even in the sections that formerly would have been recitatives. Thus you can listen to an entire Puccini opera without having to take periodic naps from sheer boredom during the dead sections.


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