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Nikhil Cacodcar

Dr. Jonathan Kregor


Music in Vienna
February 2, 2016
Assignment One: The Marriage of Figaro
The beginning of Act II of the Marriage of Figaro opens with the Countess alone. The
libretto shows her lamenting and expressing her sorrow in the form of an almost prayer-like
scene where she converses with love. She laments about the loss of the Counts love. This is
shown when she asks love to Give [her] back [her] treasure. The depth of her sadness is
further expressed by the following line or at least give me death. The use of the word treasure
to describe the Count and the alternate fate of death she asks for support and reinforce the extent
of her emotions.
The score of the scene offers further points of interest. First the music plays by itself with
no singing with it. As it does, it sets the theme that will be repeated throughout the libretto. Once
the Countess begins singing the music backs off to more of an accompanying volume however
each time she stop singing one can see in the score that Clarinets dome in with a more intricate
melody before she resumes singing again. When they come in as she finishes. The clarinets are
written as sf or sforzando so they come in with a forceful accent which helps to distinguish
them from the prior accompanying music. It seems as if there are almost two bodies in this scene
the Countess sings first and the clarinets replies in a way. Also when the Countess first sings the
line or give me death she then repeats it but has a crescendo and increase in pitch during it
with a fermata to extend its length. As she rises in volume and in pitch the music is written to rise
with her to a forte. This emphasis on death helps to increase the extremity of her emotion

because it emphasizes her wish to not live without the Counts love. Immediately after this the
music drops to piano as the libretto repeats. Although it is not written in the score, she has a
similar crescendo in the same line when it appears later on in the libretto.
One version of this scene was set in a time similar to the time of the creation of The
Marriage of Figaro, the late 18th century. In this version the Countess shows much more emotion
and is more dramatic with her movement and expression. A viewer gets a vibe that she is almost
praying as she sings her libretto. The other version of the scene is set in a more modern time of
the 20th century. In this version, there is significantly less movement or facial expression from the
Countess and it seems more as if she is talking to herself. But what she does show appears more
like how one would act realistically. In this version she seems more shocked and in disbelief as
she delivered the libretto. Both offer two different reactions to receiving news of losing
someones love but personally I appreciate the first and more dramatic version for its delivery.
By seeing the Countesss sorrow a connection between the audience and her is created. It also
adds more to her changes in pitch and volume by making them seem more emotional and
heartfelt; in the second version the changes in pitch and volume stood out almost jarringly and
did not fit well where as in the first version emotion made them seem more natural.