Sunday, April 17, 2005

"Quietly night" - Anne's aria from The Rakes Progress, Stravinsky

Anne Trulove's aria from Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress is a new discovery I made last week, and its quickly become one of my favorites. It takes place during Act II, Scene 3 of the opera. Anne is concerned about her lover, Tom Rakewell, who left for the city some time ago and has not contacted her. She believes (correctly) that Tom has forgotten her, and thus no longer loves her.

In the opening recitative and cavatina, Anne asks the moon to watch over Tom and send her love, "although it (his heart) be unkind." In the following recitative Anne worries that her father would suffer if she left to find Tom. She soon decides that he would be fine, praying for him and for Tom. The cabaletta section marks Anne's decision to find Tom in the city and show that she still loves him, even if "it be shunned or be hurt, it will not alter."

THe long orchestral introduction is tonally unstable, like how Anne is struggling to decide if she should pursue Tom. THe recitative starts in the chest voice, and escalates to a high G, suggesting the mounting tension in Anne's heart. The cavatina is restless and moody. IT is written in a minor key. The second recitative is written in the classical, Romantic opera style. Stravinsky was hard-core into the Neo-Classical movement, and for a 20th Century work, the piece's form sticks to the styles of Bellini and Donizetti.

The cabaletta section is written in major, is much faster, and more virtuosic. I love the interplay etween the fast string passages and the fluid oboe / flute line. Its like the graceful woodwinds are pursuing the strings - like how Anne plans on pursuing Tom. ... Or maybe I'm ready too deeply into this.

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