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Subject: Re: Puccini Article: NYT
From: Ron Magnuson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Ron Magnuson <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 17 Aug 2008 15:19:18 -0400

text/plain (51 lines)

On Aug 17, 2008, at 1:19 PM, Rita Haley wrote:

> Hi All,
> There was an article about Puccini in the today's NYTimes.  I found  
> it interesting and thought some of you might too.  The  
> granddaughter contest between the daughters of two of P's  
> illegitemate sons provides soap opera entertainment, while the  
> article's author actually slips in some material about Puccini's  
> music including his use of leitmotifs (apparently Wagner [dare I  
> say the name! <g>] was one of the composers he most admired).

In the article Tommasini writes:  Early in Act I of “Tosca” we hear a  
haunting little orchestral motif. Angelotti, the escaped prisoner,  
arrives in secret at the Church of Sant’Andrea Della Valle. He goes  
straight to the statue of the Madonna, where his faithful sister has  
left him a key to their family’s private chapel. As he searches for  
it, the orchestra plays a quizzical melodic fragment over three  
yearning chords: the motif of the Madonna.

I have always associated that motif as an anticipation of a phrase  
from the love duet "recondita armoia."  It occurs with the words "e  
te, beltade ignota".  Who has labeled this  the motif of the  
Madonna?  How can this be so when it forms part of the love duet for  
Mario and floria?

He goes on to say:  Then, in Act II, when the villain Scarpia makes  
his lecherous proposition to Tosca, the first two chords of his  
ominous three-chord motif are haltingly repeated as he awaits her  
answer. It’s as if the orchestra were panting. The music briefly  
halts, and we hear a sad orchestral refrain of the Madonna motif.  
What this tells us, subliminally, is that before agreeing to  
Scarpia’s horrific demand, Tosca is silently asking the Madonna’s  
forgiveness. I had known this opera for years before I caught  
Puccini’s subtle deployment of that particular motif.

Is it not more logical to say that Puccini is contrasting the lust of  
Scarpia for Tosca with that of her love for Mario?

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