Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Greenwald, Helen M. "Verdi's Patriarch and Puccini's Matriarch: Through the Looking-Glass and What Puccini Found There." 19th-Century Music 17 (Spring 1994): 220-36.

Puccini's musical borrowing from Verdi can be best understood through an analogy to the "mirror image" from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. The mirror image of Verdi's Don Carlos (1867, 1884) appears in Puccini's one-act opera Suor Angelica (1918), on the levels of characterization, declamation, timbre, tonality, and dramatic syntax. A comparison between the scenes of La Zia Principessa and Angelica in Suor Angelica and Philip and the Grand Inquisitor in Don Carlos illuminates Puccini's imitation, modeling, and recomposition techniques. Puccini's female-dominant characterization contrasts to Verdi's more "masculine" cast. Puccini used Verdi as a model for the dramatic relationship between the characters, atmosphere, action, particular arrangement of scenery, monologue, dark vocal sonorities, and tonal development. The greatest similarities are in the middle sections of the two scenes when the characters explore their most intimate desires both musically and dramatically. Puccini's scene can be seen as a reincarnation and a contrafactum of Verdi's. Like his contemporaries Schoenberg, Stravinsky, and Bartók, Puccini struggled with ways to "remake the past" as he experienced conflict with his own musical lineage.

Works: Puccini: Suor Angelica.

Sources: Verdi: Don Carlos.

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: Tong Cheng Blackburn

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