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Subject: Re: Puritani - today, from the Met
From: Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 19 Feb 2017 05:21:05 -0500

text/plain (151 lines)

Bob - I'm truly curious here, and would invite true discussion on this (not a feud). I'm at a 
loss to see your distinction. 

As I said, many pieces that involve a major formal solo (pieces we tend to call "arias" as a 
matter of course) do involve other voices. Whether it's an occasional solo jab ("Recondita 
Armonia") or a choral "backup" of sorts (I used "Il Lacerato Spirito" before - this could also 
apply to a huge number of bel canto/Verdi arias, etc) or a full-on complex ensemble in 
which the solo melody is the defining part (Musetta's waltz) - we do indeed refer to these 
as arias. Are you saying they are not? And if so, what is the dividing line? 

Would "Plebe, Patrizi" with its gorgeous complex central ensemble section (and ending) 
really not be considered an aria? Or the Prize Song? The Toreador Song? Isabella's 
wonderful showpiece "Per Lui Che Adoro" with the 3 men adding in their sneaky asides? 

It does seem to me that, through the Classical period, an aria was more strictly just a solo 
(for instance, I can't at the moment think of an example of a Mozart aria that involves 
other vocal input - though there might be something I'm not thinking of) - but that when 
we get to Bel Canto and beyond, composers started integrating other voices into big formal 
solo moments - certainly many examples of arias with chorus involvement all through the 
19th century, but also having other solo voices involved as well. Just as there are formal 
structures to certain kinds of arias (as I mentioned before, such as da capo or 
cavatina/cabaletta etc), I think the idea of an aria that also involved other singing became 
a valid construction. Also, how many cavatina/cabaletta arias can we think of (there are so 
many) that involve either chorus or a comprimario or both? 

As wonderfully integrated as Elvira (certainly), Giorgio, Walton, and the chorus are into "A 
Te O Cara," it's still mostly Arturo's moment - he gets the main melody by himself, he's 
the only one to get an extreme bravura moment with that high C# (not Db, as Ira Siff tried 
to tell us today), and he's the dramatic focus of the moment (not only story-wise, but this 
IS the first singing he does as well - it's his "entrance aria" so to speak). I don't know what 
else would define an aria, whether there's other singing going on or not. (And as I also said 
earlier, OUT OF CONTEXT of the opera, as with recitals or solo recordings, etc, often these 
kinds of pieces are done with the other voices missing for practicality's sake, and they still 
work as a solo turn. The kind of solo turn we'd all call an aria.)

So - where is the dividing line between "aria" and "not aria"? I'm truly curious to know 
what would qualify some pieces as arias while others would not, in your opinion, be so? Are 
we really going to say that a piece can only be an aria if there are no other voices involved 
ever? Or is it something else? Seems to me it's going to be a very murky line to draw. ;-)

On Sat, 18 Feb 2017 20:33:22 -0500, Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>No, it is not an aria, It is part of an ensemble, which, in sum, is at
>least as
>much a  part of  the "so called aria" as Is his music. Your turn, I
>wouldn't if I were you. It is not an aria!   It is not cllose!
>On Saturday, February 18, 2017, Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Speaking in accepted general terms, "A Te O Cara" is most certainly an
>> aria. What else
>> would you call it?
>> If you're saying it can't be an aria because other people sing during it,
>> then neither are
>> "Recondita Armonia" or "Il Lacerato Spirito" or "Quando M'en Vo," nor all
>> the many solo
>> pieces with choral involvement, etc. (And all of these, of course, can be
>> sung out of
>> context without the other voices, on recitals, recordings, etc - and often
>> are.)
>> If you're saying it's not in the "form" of an aria - well, there is no one
>> musical structure to
>> an aria. Arias come in many forms - and not just the formal structures
>> like da capo and
>> cavatina/cabaletta.
>> And though I'm not aware of what the official Italian terms would be, but
>> if this were
>> French opera, the title page of what would be "A te O Cara" would probably
>> say "couplets"
>> - because it's 2 refrains of the melody.
>> It's an aria. ;-)
>> Rather - here's an interesting (and odd) argument - Camarena said on the
>> broadcast
>> interview that he doesn't think "A Te O Cara" is passionate.
>> (transcription below.) I tend to
>> think most if not all of us would disagree, lol. Discuss...;-)
>> ("I don't think it's passionate. It's really a way to say [to] her that
>> she's the thing...she's
>> the person who make[s] him believe again in love...and it's almost like a
>> declaration, so
>> it's not so passionate, and it's more tender, more...singing actually to
>> her, and to himself,
>> because he remembers all the sorrows he had, I just think
>> about that - about
>> the love this guy must be feeling to tell these words to Elvira, so it's a
>> matter of let[ting]
>> go of yourself with the melody and the text.")
>> On Sat, 18 Feb 2017 17:21:39 -0500, Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]
>> <javascript:;>> wrote:
>> >Today's performance had some knockout moments, mainly
>> >provided by Javier Camerana.  He was wonderful in "A te o cara"
>> >(would someone please tell the announcers that it is not an aria)
>> **********************************************
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