Rossini

 

1.Maometto II by Rossini is an opera based on love versus duty. The opera takes place against the backdrop of the wars between the Turks and the Venetians which culminates in the fall of Negroponte in 1476. Anna is caught between love and duty. Her Father wishes her to marry the Venetian soldier Calbo. However, Anna has fallen in love with Uberto whom she met in Corinth. What Annna did not know is that Uberto was really the Turkish Sultan! Uberto uses Anna to get the Venetians to open the gates to the Turks. It is against the background of her failure to the Venetians that Anna sings her prayer.

2.By combining the resources of text and music offered in Anna's Preghiera I hope to show the numbiong effect Uberto's betrayal had on Anna. Anna's pleading will also be shown in the music.

3. Before proceeding I would like to offer my more literal translation of the text which I will be using for the analysis I will be undertaking.

4. Preghiera Giusto ciel in tal periglio, piu consigio, piu sepranza, non m'avanza che piangendo che gemendo implorar la tu a pieta.

5.Prayer Fair, just heaven in such peril more advice/council more hope not coming whom that cries whom that sighs beg you to have pity on/have mercy on.

6. The gentle plodding of this song suggests the numbing effect the betrayal has had on Anna. This effecyt is expressed in many ways musically. The song is very steday without any rhythmic interruptions or strong accents. The tempo indication, Andantino, marks the steady walking pace of the song. However, Anna's urgency is expressed in the fact that Andantino is a little faster than Andante, the true walking pace. Although the meter is 3/4, there are no strong accents on the first beat of each measure. The accompaniment does not change throughout the entire piece. It is a steady triplet arpeggiation throughout with the exception of the prelude and postlued which - although not steady triplets- are even more steady quarter notes. In fact, even the rhythm of the melody throughout most of the song (especially bars 5-13) is fairly constant.

7. There are several ways in which Anna's pleading manifests itself in the music from bars 5-13. The title alone (Preghiera), suggests the pleading nature of the song. The repetition of the rhythmic motive mentioned above is heard five times in a row from bar 8 to bar 10. The repetition of this motive over and over again suggest pleading. The third and fourth statement of this motive is transposed up a minor third; the increase in register suggests Anna's desperation. On the fifth statement of the motive the melody is different moving from c# to g natural. The tension of this new melody brings out the angst and hopelessness of Anna's situation. The pleading is also heard in the shortness of the phrase lengths up to bar 14. Before bar 14, most of Anna's phrases are two bars long. It is during these one and two bar phrases that Anna is pleading for more council and more hope that is not forthcoming.

8. From bars 14-22 the focus changes. As Anna begs for the pity of the heavens, the phrases increase in lenght considerably to the point that they are even eliding. Suddenly there are phrases which continue for nine measures! This section is also only the second time in the song which we have had a melisma. The melisma occurs on the la after implorar stressing the importance of Anna's begging. The imploring is again emphasized with the repetition of text for the first time in the song. From bars 14-22 there are two statements of implorar la tu a pieta. The climax of the song occurs in this section also stressing Anna's imploring. The melody rises to a high f# in this section, the highest pitch in the song, which incedentally occurs on implorar.

9. Upon the entry of the choir of women's voices, the compassion that Anna has been seeking is represented. It is no mistake that Rossini chose a female choir with the feminie characteristic of nurturing to accompany Anna's prayer the second time through.

10. Besidews this general overview of the piece there is one other interesting incident of text painting which occurs in the first phrase of the vocal line, Giusto ciel in tal periglio. The phrase is text painted on the words ciel (heaven) and periglio (peril, which I take to represent hell). Fair and just Heaven is placed at the high point of the phrase in terms of pitch, whereas periglio is much lower, a full octave lower in fact. Not only is perglio an octave lowe than heavan, but it is also the lowest pitch of the melody line in the song. Harmonically heaven is placed on the tonic (or home) while periglio is the furthest away from the tonic, on the dominant. The large amount of rhythmic activity (the only other melisma in the song) on the word periglio is suggestive of perl.

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