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Zeiss, Laurel E.

Accompanied Recitative in Mozart's Operas

Ph.D. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in progress

Accompanied Recitative has been neglected in the vast literature on Mozart's operas. While modern critics consider it uninteresting "half music," 18th-century theorists regard it as a highly expressive medium, the one that most clearly demonstrates the composer's skill. Drawing on 18th-century theory, I am examining the musical and textual parameters of Mozart's accompagnati. The role the orchestra plays in creating expression is a central concern. Rousseau, for example, writes that in obbligato recitative "the orchestra speaks for" the characters; Koch claims that the instruments "portray the actual feeling." Another important aspect of this study is the relationship of accompagnati and set piece. The boundaries between recitative and measured music are more permeable than current opinion holds. Dove-tailing, interpolations, thematic and motivic connections, and the working out of tonal problems are all methods of linking recitatives with the set pieces that follow them.