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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Voi, che sapete

In "Voi, che sapete," from The Marriage of Figaro, Mozart frequently uses mixture to convey different emotions. It begins with a very cheerful piano introduction in B flat major leading into the first section (m 9-20). This section also comes across as a very standard little happy melody, which fits with the text, as she is talking about a feeling in her heart that she thinks may be love. The only non chordal tones are chromatic passing tones. In the next section, however, things being to change. We start to see secondary dominants (m 25) and major VI chords (m27), which start to portray her confusion of what this feelings really is. Then, at measure 37, we briefly change to A flat major, as her feeling is now also changing from confusion to stress, stress that keeps building and building into 49, where we switch to G minor for 4 measures until something very interesting happens. At this part in the text, the performers anguish starts to build, and Mozart also builds up the music, literally. He starts on a I chord back in B flat it measure 53. In measure 54, he goes up a half step to a ii measure 55, a II chord. This patterns goes on measure by measure through a iii, III, iv, IV, vii dim/ V, and finally a V. This chromatic building really provides a sense of tensions rising. Then we reach measure 62, where she comes to terms with her languish and decides that she rather enjoys it, and are back to the happy major melody to the end.


Scott said...

m. 27 isn't a major VI, we are in the key of F at this point and the progression is vi - V864-753/V resolving to V7 in m. 28.

The change at m. 37 is very startling, a good example of a chromatic mediant relationship (C major chord moving to an Ab major chord).

M. 52 where you note the anguish building is a good example of an ascending 5-6 sequence.

Highlight what the mode mixture is, in this case mostly moving to the key of bVII (Ab) but also the Db in m. 60 and 68 as well as the examples in the textbook.

lark44 said...

I agree that this starts as a standard little happy melody, but suggest that the attribution attribution of anguish is somewhat overstated; or, alternatively, that the anguish is understated by Mozart compared with the excitement and agitation in the text.
My hypothesis is that Da Ponte's first aria for Cherubino - Non so piu cosa, in Act 1 - and his second, Voi che sapete, in Act 2, were two versions of the same lyric. Mozart, having already provided the drama required by Non so piu cosa, largely but not entirely ignored the text of Voi che sapete, and wrote a delicious love song in place of the pastiche drama called for by the second text.