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Subject: Re: What operas have characters who are lawyers, attorneys, solicitors, barristers?..
From: Hans Christian Hoff <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Hans Christian Hoff <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 25 Apr 2017 20:06:02 +0200

text/plain (44 lines)

In ancient cultures the positions of clergy and judges were often taken 
by the same person; dispensing justice was often the task of the supreme 
cleric, i.e. Zaccaria. Sarastro is of the same ilk. Later on there was a 
clear divide between civil an clerical law;it was a pivotal point in the 
struggle between the German Emperor and the Pope who was to have 
jurisdisction over the clergy, monasteries etc.  Alvaro/Pereda in Forza 
professes himself to have received doctorates in both branches 
(utrisque  juris). The Grand Inquisitor in Don C was the mightiest judge 
in contemporary Spain (even if he strictly had jurisdiction only in 
clerical matters). In the da Ponte operas lawyers are often descripted 
as small, thin-voiced, rather ridiculous creatures (don Curzio in Nozze, 
the notar/Despina in Cosi) except Bartolo in Nozze, who professes to be 
a gifted lawyer who knows how to bend the law ("Tutti gli codige dove si 
volgere") There are also a string of notaries in Rossinis works, all 
rather ridiculous figures, somewhat similar to dr. Blind in "die 
Fledermaus".  In Lortzing's Zar und Zimmermann the Burgomeister van Bett 
declares himself to be "ein zweiter Salomo" because  "Ich bin klug und 
weise und mich betørt man nicht". In Ballo the "Supremo Giudice " plays 
an insignificant part. Afik there is no judge in Wagner; the nearest 
example is probably Beckmesser in "die Meistersinger".  I am not sure 
what the role of the High Priest Ramphis  in the judgment scene in Aïda 
is; I do however believe he is the prosecutor while the King is the judge.

Sullivan's "Trial by Jury" is all about legal process.

It stands to reason that lawyers in opera are secondary characters, as 
they are either counseling or condemning the manin charactors.


Hans (retired secondary character)

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