03522 - Musical Dramaturgy

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Marco Beghelli

  • Credits 12

  • SSD L-ART/07

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language Italian

  • Course Timetable from Sep 25, 2018 to Dec 21, 2018

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will gain basic knowledge of the structures and functioning of the operatic text (in his triple verbal, musical, and visual component), in relation to his historical changes.



Course contents

This course consists of two modules (30 hours each). Students who must take a 6 credits examination, they are required to prepare for the first module.


Module 1: Problems of musical dramaturgy

Giuseppe Verdi's opera Rigoletto (1851), based on a libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, is taken as a model for studying the main issues related to the three constitutive texts of the musical theatre: verbal text, musical text, and visual text.


Module 2: Historical Exploration

The historical events of Italian opera are dealt with in the light of the formal changes of libretto and music, through five exemplifications:

- as an example of opera of the seventeenth century: L’incoronazione di Poppea attributed to Claudio Monteverdi (1643), based on a libretto by Giovanni Francesco Busenello

- as an example of opera seria of the eighteenth century: L’Olimpiade by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1735), based on a libretto by Pietro Metastasio

- as an example of eighteenth-century opera buffa: Le nozze di Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1786), based on a libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte

- as an example of opera of the early nineteenth century: Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti (1835), based on a libretto by Salvadore Cammarano

- as an example of opera at the end of the nineteenth century: La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini (1896), based on a libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa

Students will add a sixth title at their choice, even non-Italian, to be studied independently applying the methodologies learned from the course bibliography and the contents of the specific bibliography of the chosen opera.





WARNING: To avoid scrapping the library's volumes with repeated copying, many of the materials listed below (magazine articles or individual book chapters, sometimes out of print) are available in digital format at the specified internet or intranet address; exceptions are the books to be studied in their entirety, which are supposed to be directly acquired by students.


Module 1

On the concept of musical dramaturgy

- Lorenzo Bianconi, «Introduzione» to La drammaturgia musicale, a cura di Lorenzo Bianconi, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1986, pp. 7-51 (http://campus.unibo.it/244874/)


On the relationship between word and music

- Marco Beghelli, Musica e Poesia: due sistemi concorrenti, in I 150 anni del Liceo Laura Bassi, Bologna, Pendragon, 2012, pp. 31-38 (http://campus.unibo.it/245097/)


An introduction to the Italian metric

- Marco Beghelli, Guida alla identificazione metrica dei versi italiani, online preprint (http://campus.unibo.it/243943/)


Forms, techniques, and systems of Italian opera

- Gloria Staffieri, Un teatro tutto cantato. Introduzione all’opera italiana, Roma, Carrocci, 2012

- Marco Beghelli, Doppi ruoli e doppie parti nell’opera in musica, Atti del convegno Per/Formare l’opera, a cura di Marco Beghelli, Paola Bignami e Gerardo Guccini, «Prove di drammaturgia», XX, n. 1 (novembre 2015), pp. 34-41 (http://campus.unibo.it/243944/)

- Marco Beghelli, Voci e cantanti, in Enciclopedia della musica, a cura di Jean-Jacques Nattiez, V (L'unità della musica), Torino, Einaudi, 2005, pp. 814-841 (http://campus.unibo.it/243945/; also avalibable in French, in Musiques. Une Encyclopédie pour le XXIe siècle, sous la direction de Jean-Jacques Nattiez, vol. IV, Paris, Actes Sud, 2006, pp. 522-551)


Semiotic categories for the analysis of Italian opera

- Marco Beghelli, Schede nn. 1, 2, 7, 10, 11, 14, in the appendices to La retorica del rituale nel melodramma ottocentesco, Parma, Istituto Nazionale di Studi Verdiani, 2003 (http://campus.unibo.it/243946/)


Rigoletto - The literary and musical texts

- Victor Hugo, Il re si diverte, dramma: in Victor Hugo, Ernani, Il re si diverte, Ruy Blas, introduzione, traduzione e note di Enrico Groppali, Milano, Garzanti, 1988 (or http://campus.unibo.it/243940/); also avalable in the original French or other languages

- Francesco Maria Piave, Rigoletto, the libretto of the première, Venezia, Nella Tipografia Gaspari, 1851 (http://campus.unibo.it/246644/)

- Giuseppe Verdi, Rigoletto, vocal score, Edizione Ricordi (http://campus.unibo.it/316260 or https://archive.org/details/rigolettomelodra00verd)

- a complete performance of Rigoletto (for example, the May 1994 La Scala production, Riccardo Muti conductor, Gilbert Deflo director: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntnokC6wvcs; as an opera movie, Riccardo Chailly conductor, Jean-Pierre Ponnelle director: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bkh8Txyh3NY)


On Rigoletto

- Fedele d’Amico, Rigoletto, in Forma divina: saggi sull’opera lirica e sul balletto, a cura di Nicola Badolato e Lorenzo Bianconi, vol. I, Firenze, Olschki, 2012, pp. 171-180 (http://campus.unibo.it/244883/)

- Alessandro Roccatagliati, Rigoletto di Giuseppe Verdi, Milano, Mursia, 1991, pp. 7-63 (http://campus.unibo.it/245146/)

- Julian Budden, Le opere di Verdi, vol. I (Da Oberto a Rigoletto), Torino, Edt, 1985, pp. 519-558, 586-588 (http://campus.unibo.it/245133/; also available in English: The Operas of Verdi, vol. I, London, Cassel, 1973 and subsequent re-editons)

- Federico Fornoni, “Rigoletto”: libretto e guida all'opera, in Rigoletto, programme book of the Teatro La Fenice di Venezia, 2010, pp. 63-108 (http://www.teatrolafenice.it/media/libretti/63_1269LibrettoRigoletto.pdf)

- Riccardo Muti legge “Rigoletto”, public lecture, Milano, Università Bocconi, 9 maggio 1994, Part 2 (out-of-commerce video recording; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbtp5L04BUM from 44' to the end +the whole file https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAW6AFh9LC8)


On some philological and performative problems related to Rigoletto (staging, vocal traditions, performance practice, critical editions)

- Marco Beghelli, „Rigoletto“ I, 1: Die Fehler der Regisseure, in Musiktheater im Fokus, a cura di Sieghardt Döhring e Stefanie Rauch, Sinzig, Studio Verlag, 2014, pp. 3-12 (also available in Italian: http://campus.unibo.it/243942/)

- Riccardo Muti legge “Rigoletto”, public lecture, Milano, Università Bocconi, 9 maggio 1994, Part 1 (out-of-commerce video recording; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbtp5L04BUM from the beginning to 44’)

- Philip Gossett, Rigoletto. L'edizione critica e la tradizione, Bologna, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, 1993 (booklet not for sale; available in the Biblioteca di Musica e Spettacolo, Dipartimento delle Arti; http://campus.unibo.it/288223/).


Module 2

For a historical and stylistic overview on Italian opera

- Gilles de Van, L'opera italiana: la produzione, l'estetica, i capolavori, Roma, Carocci, 2002 (also available in French: L'opéra italien, Paris, Presses universitaires de France, 2000, «Que sais-je?» n. 3543)


On L’incoronazione di Poppea

- Lorenzo Bianconi, Enigmi di Poppea, in L’incoronazione di Poppea, programme book of the Teatro Comunale di Bologna, 1993 (http://campus.unibo.it/294435/)

- Paolo Fabbri, La coronatione di Poppea (1643), in Id., Monteverdi, Torino, EdT, 1985, pp. 335-344 (http://campus.unibo.it/300619/)

- Gian Francesco Busenello, L’incoronazione di Poppea, libretto (http://campus.unibo.it/300622/); warning: possible differences between this text and the various recordings of the opera

- a recording of the opera; for example, the production directed by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle (1979): acts 1 e 2 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZZyySg6JZU), act 3 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j650NanGNyk


On L’Olimpiade

- Costantino Maeder, Metastasio, l’«Olimpiade» e l’opera del Settecento, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1993, pp. 11-83 (http://campus.unibo.it/294427/)

- Raffaele Mellace, L’«Olimpiade» di Pietro Metastasio: strategie e fortuna di un capolavoro, in Intorno all’«Olimpiade» di Baldassarre Galuppi, a cura di Uwe Israel, Roma - Venezia, Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura - Centro tedesco di studi veneziani, 2010, pp. 45-58 (http://campus.unibo.it/294429/)

- Reinhard Strohm, Metastasio/Pergolesi, L’Olimpiade (1735), in L’opera italiana nel Settecento, Venezia, Marsilio, 1991, pp. 214-227 (http://campus.unibo.it/294431/) (also available in German: Die italienische Oper im 18. Jahrhundert, Wilhelmshaven, Heinrichshofen, 1979)

- the original libretto of Pietro Metastasio (1733) for Antonio Caldara (http://campus.unibo.it/300623/); warning: possible differences with the text set into music by Pergolesi two years after

- a performance of the opera by Pergolesi; for example, the Deutsche Harmona Mundi studio recording (2011) conducted by Alessandro De Marchi (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vId6gJ_Zwsc)


On Le nozze di Figaro

- Fedele d’Amico, Le nozze di Figaro, in Forma divina: saggi sull’opera lirica e sul balletto, a cura di Nicola Badolato e Lorenzo Bianconi, vol. I, Firenze, Olschki, 2012, pp. 16-21 (http://campus.unibo.it/294432/)

- Libretto e guida all’opera, a cura di Emanuele Bonomi, in Le nozze di Figaro, programme book of the Teatro La Fenice di Venezia, 2011 (http://www.teatrolafenice.it/media/libretti/121_1496NozzeFigaro.pdf), pp. 49-124

- a performance of the opera; for example, the Teatro alla Scala 2006 production directed by Giorgio Strehler (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OYtlGpApc0)


On Lucia di Lammermoor

- Fedele d’Amico, Lucia di Lammermoor, in Forma divina: saggi sull’opera lirica e sul balletto, a cura di Nicola Badolato e Lorenzo Bianconi, vol. I, Firenze, Olschki, 2012, pp. 125-131 (http://campus.unibo.it/294434/)

- Libretto e guida all’opera, a cura di Federico Fornoni, in Lucia di Lammermoor, programme book of the Teatro La Fenice di Venezia, 2011, (http://www.teatrolafenice.it/media/libretti/117_4392LuciadiLammermoor.pdf ), pp. 47-88

- a performance of the opera; for example, the Opéra Royal de Wallonie 2015 production, directed by Stefano Mazzonis (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqyGmLV-iEI&t=2349s)


On La Bohème

- Fedele d’Amico, La Bohème, in Forma divina: saggi sull’opera lirica e sul balletto, a cura di Nicola Badolato e Lorenzo Bianconi, vol. II, Firenze, Olschki, 2012, pp. 322-330 (http://campus.unibo.it/294434/)

- Libretto e guida all’opera, a cura di Michele Girardi, in La Bohème, programme book of the Teatro La Fenice di Venezia, 2012 (http://www.teatrolafenice.it/media/libretti/136_5866Boheme_2012_v2.pdf), pp. 51-112

- a performance of the opera; for example, the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari 2010 production, directed by Lorenzo Mariani (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvby3s0I4jM&t=1679s)



ADDITIONAL OPTIONAL BIBLIOGRAPHY (for those who want to deepen individual issues):

- Carolyn Abbate - Roger Parker, Storia dell’opera, Torino, EdT, 2012 (a complete history of opera, also availabel in English)

- Marco Beghelli, Il libretto, in Il libro di musica, a cura di Carlo Fiore, Palermo, L’Epos, 2004, pp. 277-313 (a history of the opera libretto as an editorial genre)

- Marco Beghelli, Le didascalie nei libretti rossiniani, in Rossini und das Libretto. Tagungsband, a cura di Reto Müller e Albert Gier, Leipzig, Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 2010 («Schriftenreihe der Deutschen Rossini Gesellschaft», n. 6), pp. 159-184 (a reflection on the scenic caption)

- Marco Beghelli, Ma l’opera è un’altra cosa, «Studi comparatistici», VI, 2013, nn. 11-12, pp. 33-56 (on the relationship among opera, libretto, and literary source)

- Paolo Fabbri, Metro e canto nell'opera italiana, Torino, EdT, 2007 (an exhaustive discussion on the metric of Italian librettos)

- Lorenzo Bianconi, Sillaba, quantità, accento, tono, «Il Saggiatore musicale», XII, n. 1, 2005, pp. 183-218 (on the rhythmic-metric relationship between the verse and its musical intonation)

- Abramo Basevi, Studio sulle opere di Giuseppe Verdi, Firenze, Tofani, 1859, pp. 183-202 (the first critical reflection on Rigoletto, including the original attestation of the expression “la solita forma dei duetti”; even in a modern edition, edited by Ugo Piovano, Milano, Rugginenti, 2001, or in English, edited by Stefano Castelvecchi, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 2013)

- Marcello Conati, Rigoletto: un'analisi drammatico-musicale, Venezia, Marsilio, 1992 (another guide to Rigoletto, with particular regard to its genesis)

- Marcello Conati, La bottega della musica: Verdi e la Fenice, Milano, Il Saggiatore, 1993 (with archive documents about the birth of Rigoletto)

- Mario Lavagetto, Un caso di censura: il Rigoletto, Milano, Bruno Mondadori, 2010 (about the changes suffered by the libretto in the early years of its theatrical spread)

- Harold S. Powers, “La solita forma” e gli “usi della convenzione”, in Estetica e drammaturgia della “Traviata”. Tre studi sul teatro d’opera di Verdi, a cura di Emanuele Ferrari, Milano CUEM, 2001, pp. 11-66 (the classic text on the so called "solita forma" of the nineteenth-century Italian opera; also in English: “La solita forma” and “the uses of convention”, in “Acta musicologica”, LIX (1987), pp. 65-90, then in Nuove prospettive nella ricerca verdiana. Atti del convegno in occasione della prima di “Rigoletto” in edizione critica, Vienna, 12-13 marzo 1983, a cura dell’Istituto di studi verdiani, Parma ‑ Milano, Istituto nazionale di studi verdiani ‑ Ricordi, 1987, pp. 74-109)

- Harold Power, Il «do del baritono», in Opera & Libretto, vol. II, Firenze, Olschki, 1993, pp. 267-281 (on the relationship between vocal part and dramaturgy)

- Marco Beghelli, A ritroso: indizi nella divulgazione extrateatrale per il recupero della prassi esecutiva verdiana, in Fuori dal teatro. Modi e percorsi della divulgazione di Verdi, a cura di Antonio Carlini, Venezia, Marsilio, 2015, pp. 247-264 (about some problems of vocal performing practice in Verdi's operas, and particularly in Rigoletto)




Teaching methods

The first module class concerns some dramaturgical issues of the nineteenth-century Italian opera, exemplified through passages from Rigoletto and other works: it will not be an "explanation" of the bibliography assigned for the exam, but a “complementary teaching” for the attending students. Students will personally complete the investigation through the above-mentioned bibliography (identical for attending and non-attending students). In the second module, some scenes from the five operas planned will be presented and commented, highlighting the aesthetic and formal differences.




Assessment methods

The exam is divided into a written and an oral examination scheduled for the same day. The written test will be performed on the computer (headphone listening and word processing) using a PC of the Dipartimento delle Arti.

The written part, in the early hours of the morning (duration: 120 minutes), consists of:

- a metric test: students are required to identify the meter of a dozen lines and illustrate some relevant metric phenomena (those indicated in the Guida alla identificazione metrica dei versi italiani). An example of the test: http://campus.unibo.it/288263/;

- a check on the topics of Module 1: students are required to explain one or more dramatic issues related to Rigoletto; the questions may be about the transition from the literary source to the operatic realization, a specific formal structure, a narrative mechanism, a performance problem, or anything else treayted in the exam bibliography above;

- a check on the operas of Module 2: recognition of an important scene from the five above listed works is required; students shall indicate its position within the drama (who are the acting characters and what events take place in that scene), as well as the formal and stylistic peculiarities that can be highlighted in listening to it (e. g. a Sinfonia in sonata form, a recitativo secco, a da capo aria, a solita forma duet, a concertato di stupore, etc.), to be explained according to its position in the history of Italian opera.

During the oral examination, late in the morning or in the afternoon of the same day, students shall discuss an operatic title (even non-Italian) other than those discussed during the course and above listed. Students are expected to choose it at their choice and study it independently applying the methodologies learned from the bibliography related to the two modules of the course, identifying by itself the specific bibliography to study the chosen work (from the literary source of the libretto, to a supporting audio/video execution). More specifically, students are required to move within the relationship between individual scenes of the opera and the original literary source (if any), the poetry meters used in the libretto, the musical makrostruttures evidenced by reading the libretto and listening to the music, the basic dramatic and musical characteristics highlighted in the peculiar passages of the opera.

In order to better support the oral part of the exam, students shall sit with a typographically reliable version of the opera libretto (rarely the booklets of cd and dvd are reliable), to easy identify the metric and formal structures prepared by the poet: For example, the reproduction of the first edition of the libretto (available for Italian operas in http://corago.unibo.it/risultatolibretti), or a good modern transcriptions, in print (recommended the volume Libretti d'opera italiani dal Seicento al Novecento, edited by Giovanna Gronda and Paolo Fabbri, Milano, Mondadori, 1997) or online (generally reliable the database at http://www.librettidopera.it). Vocal scores or full scores are welcome for those who know how to help; even for others, the advice is not to intimidate and strive to follow the musical performance with the eyes on a vocal score, after having imbued with the work through listening aided by the only libretto.

The written and oral exams are inseparable parts of the same examination, which are indisputably scheduled on the same date, and will give rise to a single, average rating of the result of each test. Sufficient is attributed to those who prove to orient themselves in the metric feature of a libretto and the basic theoretical notions discussed in Module 1, as well as demonstrate a basic knowledge of the five operas of Module 2 and the opera of their choice. Possessing a broader organic vision on the history of opera, mastering a specific language, connecting the concepts acquired and formulating original reflections are estimated with a gradual increase in the overall evaluation.



Teaching tools

During the course, the operas on the syllabus will be studied by analysing the libretto and listening to audio and video performances of individual scenes. In support of frontal lectures, students have to rely on the indicated bibliography, that is useful to focus attention on various issues suggested by the verbal text and the musical text. The repeated listening of the entire operas is important, moreover, with the support of at least the libretto.




Office hours

See the website of Marco Beghelli