Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Franke, Lars. "The Godfather Part III: Film, Opera, and the Generation of Meaning." In Changing Tunes: The Use of Pre-existing Music in Film, ed. Phil Powrie and Robynn Stilwell, 31-45. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006.

Pietro Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana is integrated into The Godfather Part III in complex ways. Coppola uses music from Cavalleria rusticana in a scene in which the opera is attended in addition to exploiting traits of opera on other levels. The opera appears in three levels within the narrative of the film: a literal level, a cultural level, and a dramatic level. The literal level is achieved through the usage of the diegetic, staged opera within the film. At this level, Coppola uses the opera aurally and rearranges it for cinematic effect. The Preghiera develops multiple meanings within the context of the film, from a contrast of faith/harmony with murder to religious ceremony in opera. The themes of ritualism and violence in the opera also parallel the film. The cultural level depicts opera as a cultural artifact that permeates life, an example of which is the arrangement of "Va, pensiero, sull'ali dorate" from Verdi's Nabucco, which functions as a cultural icon of Sicily as well as a portrayal of the character Michael's relationship with Sicily. The dramatic level adapts operatic structure, appearance, and narrative to the film as a whole.

Works: Francis Ford Coppola (director): Sound track to The Godfather Part III.

Sources: Pietro Mascagni: Cavalleria rusticana (31-45); Verdi: Nabucco (37-39).

Index Classifications: 1900s, Film

Contributed by: Karen Anton Stafford

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