The choruses in Mozart's Opere Serie: practical performance possibilities



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Texas Tech University


The chomses from the eighteenth century opere serie of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart represent a body of literature that is relatively unknown. While the majority of Italian opere serie exclude the choms, most of Mozart's works in this genre contain significant choral scenes. The existence of opera seria as popular musical theater was short-lived, yet the chomses from Mozart's opere serie are worthy examples of secular choral literature that are musically viable and dramatically sound, deserving to be discovered and presented by choral conductors searching for new works from the classical period.

This study includes a scholarly examination of opera seria as a genre, as well as the historical role of the opera choms. Of particular importance is the operatic reform movement in France which assigned a more important role to the choms than the traditional Italian opera seria. Mozart was influenced by this aspect of the French reform during his sojoum in Paris in 1778.

This study also examines Mozart's early works for the stage, many of which conform to the conventions of opera seria, as well as his mature examples in this genre, Idomeneo, Re di Creta, and La clemenza di Tito.

The practical focus of this project is devoted to the production of performing editions of choruses from several of these operas. The editions feature altemative notations that allow for less strenuous vocal ranges, a chart of the Intemational Phonetic Alphabet with pronounciation guides, IPA transcriptions of all Italian texts and literal English translations. Some choral scenes include options for soloists and small ensembles as well as simple recitative. Each choral scene presented includes historical information about the opera, a synopsis of the plot, and performance comments and recommendations specific to the selection. The editions are presented in a piano/vocal score format that can be used for performance.

This project provides conductors, singers, and audiences with a significant corpus of Mozart's choral compositions. It includes the examination of historical perspectives associated with opera seria and the opera choms coupled with actual performing editions.