Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Cross, Eric. "Vivaldi and the Pasticcio: Text and Music in Tamerlano." In Con che soavità: Studies in Italian Opera, Song, and Dance, 1580-1740, ed. Iain Fenlon and Tim Carter, 275-311. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995.

Borrowing in eighteenth-century opera is so common that these works can be defined by individual performances, not a written score. However, by analyzing these works in written form as they compare to their sources of music and libretti, much can be learned about the compositional process of adapting materials. Vivaldi's Tamerlano is an excellent example of this. There are many related libretti on this story from the early eighteenth century. Certain adaptations of these libretti share large structural features. Handel's Tamerlano preserves the distribution of arias between characters found in Gasparini's Il Bajazet. Shared performers between works sometimes cause the choices of borrowed and retexted sections in arias. Vivaldi's Tamerlano has additional text because of his self-borrowing of a chorus from Farnace. He also adds different text to the music of arias from his earlier operas. By changing rhyme schemes and only keeping key words, he adapts the aria to a completely different scene and affect. This process also changes where important melismas are placed and therefore which parts of the music are emphasized. Vivaldi also repeats this process with arias by other composers, but in these cases misses the subtle harmonic relationships with the text used by the original composer.

Works: Vivaldi: Tamerlano (276-79, 283-311); Handel: Tamerlano (277, 281-82), Cantone (291, 294); Francesco Gasparini: Il Bajazet (277, 281).

Sources: Francesco Gasparini: Tamerlano (277-79), Il Bajazet (277); Vivaldi: Farnace (284, 288-89, 294, 305), L'Olimpiade (286-88), Giustino (288-94), Orlando finto pazzo (309); Hasse: Siroe re di Persia (297-301); Geminiano Giacomelli: Merope (301-5).

Index Classifications: 1700s

Contributed by: Danielle Nelson

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