Female Public Speech And The Revision History Of Rossini'S Maometto Secondo
The exclusion of women from the civic sphere is a familiar topic in many areas of feminist scholarship. I extend this question to Rossini by examining how four of his operas reflect rules governing female public speech. Chapter One considers La donna del lago (1819) and Matilde di Shabran (1821), in which such rules are stated explicitly within the world represented on stage. I focus on the rondò finales in order to examine how the female protagonists speak in public in the face of wider cultural norms which reduce female speech to wordless and revelatory vocalization. Chapter Two turns to the Act II finale of Rossini's Otello (1816) and the confrontation between Desdemona and her father, Elmiro, especially the moment in which she seeks his forgiveness, and he refuses it. I read this moment through the reception history of Desdemona's aria, and through Marco Beghelli's work on the musical emblems of ritual in nineteenth-century Italian opera. A close review of Beghelli's work reveals that composers drew on these musical emblems to different ends when female rather than male characters were the speakers. Desdemona turns to such rhetoric when her final chance to speak in public collapses. Chapter Three traces how Rossini's Maometto secondo (1820) develops the public voice of its female protagonist, Anna Erisso, both in the changes it introduces into the traditional story of her martyrdom, and in the ways Rossini scores her recitatives. I read Rossini's accompanimental strategies in light of Metastasio's famous letter to Hasse on the recitatives of Attilio Regolo. Yet a moment in the Act II finale raises questions about Anna Erisso's decision to kill herself, as if her public voice had failed to secure for her an autonomous voice. In Chapter Four, I argue that the scenes that establish Anna Erisso's standing as an agent and a public speaker are retracted in Rossini's Venetian and Parisian revisions. I treat the printed librettos of other contemporary revivals as documents of the reception history of the Neapolitan version, records of productions that preserved what Rossini would elsewhere eliminate.
Rossini; public speech; articulacy
Zaslaw, Neal Alexander
Rosen, David B; Harris-Warrick, Rebecca; Groos Jr, Arthur Bernhard
Ph. D., Musicology
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis