Love and Reform: a chamber operetta

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Love and Reform: a chamber operetta

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10355/10783

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Title: Love and Reform: a chamber operetta
Author: Gagnon, Ryan
Date: 2011-05-23
Publisher: University of Missouri--Kansas City
Abstract: “Love and Reform” is a chamber operetta composed from a libretto written by the composer for female narrator, soprano, tenor, bass, and string quintet. The drama is an Epicurean satire concerning the imagined afterlife of recently deceased Emperor Joseph II of Austria (1765-1790). The language of the libretto combines ironically antique verbiage with a bawdiness characteristic of early French operetta. A pastiche of the light and pseudo-serious musical idioms, the music of “Love and Reform” avoids stylistic unity in favor of juxtaposing drastically different musical types for comic effect. To this end, the string ensemble often mimics other instruments and musical genres. An arpeggio figure reminiscent of continuo figuration serves as a motto to signify changes in mood or plot, and likewise, portamento figures evoke the sound of a slide guitar playing blues music. Frequent internal musical references to previously heard arias and recitative figures help to create dramatic and musical cohesion, and function like leitmotifs. The opening motive, constructed from perfect fifths moving in contrary motion by minor second, becomes symbolic of Joseph's 'suffering'. In contrast, a recurring passage constructed from common practice materials represents Joseph's 'idealism'. Jazz rhythms, blues-like harmonies, and linear chromatic writing are all prominently featured throughout the work. “Love and Reform” ends in a ghostly quotation of Beethoven's early memorial cantata “On the Death of Emperor Joseph II”.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10355/10783

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