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Justin Holland
Scraps from the Operas arranged for Two Guitars

No. 11 - Masaniello

 

Justin Holland, Scraps From The Operas

Opera: La Muette de Portici (The Dumb Girl of Portici)
Composer: D. F. E. Auber
Premiere: Paris, 1828.
Note: Portici is a city near Naples, and thus, Vesuvius. "La Muette" refers to the mute heroine of the opera, Fenella, who communicates with her dance. The alternate title, "Masaniello", is the name of her brother, the unfortunate hero of the opera.
Question: Is opera relevant? Maybe all you hear is pretty music, but when the Belgians heard this opera in 1830, they stormed out of the theater and started their own revolution for independence from the Dutch.

Scrap 1: Allegro non troppo.

This is the lively Market Scene in which vendors cry their wares and the populace disports in the Italian sunshine. It is in Act 3 of 5. Below the surface, the citizens' resentment towards the Spanish rule churns. A little later, Masaniello's mute sister Fenella is seized in the square by the captain of the Spanish guard. Masaniello rescues his sister, and the people's determination to rise up is forged.

Scrap 2 (1:22): Barcarolle. Andantino.

In Act 2, Masaniello is requested to give a song to cheer his comrades who are also brooding on their oppressed state. Masaniello sings the famous barcarolle, Amis, la matinee est belle ("Friends, the morning is beautiful"). He assures them the day of freedom will come soon, and he cautions them to be careful to not let on anything is afoot.

The music is used again in Act 5 where Masaniello shows he has lost his sanity. The troops are marching on Naples and Vesuvius is erupting, and a disheveled Masaniello enters and sings of the fine night and the joy of a fisherman king's life.

Scrap 3 (3:26): Marcia. Allegro mod.

In Act 4, Masaniello promises safety to a fugitive at his hut who turns out to be the hated Viceroy's son. A little later, the people arrive and declare Masaniello their king. He rides away on a finely arrayed steed. To this march music, the people sing the praises of Masaniello while his comrades express disgust at his behavior.

PLAY OPERA SCRAP NO. 11 - "Masaniello"

Next Opera Scrap: No. 12 - "Oberon"
Previous Opera Scrap: No. 10 - "Martha 2"
Index of all 20 "Scraps From The Operas"

 


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