Analysis Of Handel

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Analysis Of Handel’s Admeto Essay, Research Paper Analysis of Handel’s Admeto In the beginning of the 18th century opera seria developed into a vibrant art form, and took a center stage in operatic performance of London. As a genre, opera seria takes its themes from classical myths and literature, building on the musical standards developed throughout the Baroque period. Opera seria is built on a rigid structure of three acts in which the recitative and aria are performed in alternation. The dominant convention of this musical genre is the de capo aria which helps to show a single specific mood or affection through the use of repetition and melismatic singing while also serving as a “reflection of the significance of the virtuoso singer” (New Harvard 564). The voices

of soloists were central to the performance, and the composers of opera serias used the instruments of the orchestra as an accompaniment. In looking at Handel’s Admeto we can see a prominent example of an opera seria, allowing us to see how these among other musical conventions created a sense of grandeur and order so prominent during a Baroque period. Recitative playes a pivotal role in the development of the action of Admeto. It serves a function of both developing the plot and explaining the relationships between characters. The Act III scene 6 finds Alcestis back from the netherworld and looking to reunite with her husband Admeto. In a dramatic dialogue Hercules tells her that her husband is in love with another. This amount of information would be impossible to convey

effectively in the form of an aria. Instead of being accompanied by the basso continuo, the recitative between Alcestis and Hercules is almost entirely spoken. The only instrumental accompaniment is the harpsichord, and its function is limited to underlining the ends of phrases. Such recitative, often called secco recitative, allows the words come out unencumbered by the colorful turns of a musical composition. Yet the music is not absent from Handel’s recitative. While not prominent in the recitative, Handel uses the harpsichord in specific places to mimic the sound of the words. For example, on the words “m’iuccide” and “guai” the harpsichord mimics the voice of the soprano and creates a sound not unlike a point of imitation. In he last part of the recitative, the

harpsichord starts to play a larger role. Unlike in the previous stanzas, Handel actually provides an instrumental melody through “con, ragione il core da gelosia.” This is important because it prepares us for the colorful texture of the aria, and because we are speaking about the “heart.” As Alcestis finishes the recitative by pledging to ignore her own jealousy toward “Admeto amato,” we hear the harpsichord mimicking the soprano’s voice once again. Throughout the recitative, the instruments play a marginal role to the voice,. yet during the aria they take on a much larger role. The basso continuo made up of a harpsichord and a cello is joined by a string section in the aria, and each serves a very specific role. Violins provide the accentuation of the mood of the

piece while the basso continuo serves as a foundation to the aria. In addition, the instruments are charged with creating musical interludes between the sections of the aria These interludes in Handel’s Admeto are rittornello in form because they are identical and repeating. These totally instrumental brakes serve to slow down the action of the preceding recitative as well as for a practical reason of asking the 18th century audience to pay attention. In addition the introduction to the aria sets up a tripple meter that will be held throughout the aria. The instruments, therefore, serve to give structure to the Admeto aria. The aria of Handel’s Admeto has a very defined A-B-A’ structure, where A prime is a modification of the original melody. Da capa in form, this aria is