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The critical edition of I Puritani, published in 2013, provides an opportunity for some reflections on the nature of the operatic score compared with that of the literary text. Unlike the latter, the written dramatic-musical text does not coincide with the artwork; rather, it is the premise to the creation of a complex event, the theatrical performance. Bellini’s opera excellently exemplifies the point: the author’s thought is transmitted by multiple sources, each of which contains variants that are not in conflict with each other; they embody a compositional thought that contains within itself the flexibility of the performance. A case in point is offered by metronome markings: Bellini wrote up to four different indications for the same passage in different manuscripts. None of these should be considered to represent the author’s final idea; rather, they delimit the spectrum of options within which the interpreter is called to choose.
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