Symbolism In Opera

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Symbolism in Opera: The Elements of French Symbolism in the Opera Production of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande
Although a large number of research studies have been conducted on the relationship between Claude Debussy and French Symbolism, especially his opera Pelléas et Mélisande, whether his music could reflect Symbolism is still in a heated discussion. Some research has pointed out the relationship between the music and the libretto of the opera and Symbolism , ; while some research has investigated only the stage setting of the opera production , . Hence, the chief purpose of this study is to explore the opera production of Debussy’s opera and French Symbolism. Specifically, it is hypothesized that opera production, including
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The process of choosing libretto, the aesthetics of Debussy and Maeterlinck and the idea of French Symbolist movement were discussed mainly. Roger Parker mentioned briefly the scene setting of the opera, which is important for the examination of production of the opera. He also provided a concise and accurate explanation the related concepts, such as Symbolism and the manifestation of Symbolism in the opera. Although focusing more on the love-hate relationship between Debussy and Wagnerian opera, Roger Parker, along with Carolyn Abbate, stressed the uniqueness and unclassifiability of the opera due to its musical style and narrative-singing style. With an example of analysis of act 2, scene 2 of the opera, Robert Cannon added the quotations from Debussy and Maeterlinck on their own aesthetics. However, the interpretation of the example is questionable and subjective when he drew connections between the music and the images suggested in the text. Ethan Mordden explained Debussy’s aesthetics was justified with Debussy’s discussion with his friend, Erik Satie, who is a contemporary composer and pianist. The inclusion of Satie’s view provides us a wider dimension of the process of choosing libretto and the aesthetics of …show more content…
Jennifer Lea Brown’s dissertation offers a general framework for studying the Symbolism in the opera production. In the first half of the dissertation, the aesthetic similarities of Debussy and three Symbolist Poets were discussed; while in the second half, the application of Symbolist techniques in Debussy’s opera was examined. Other research studies have analyzed the symbolism in his music. The symbolization of different objects and emotions were found in the piano music of Debussy composed between 1900 and 1910 in the dissertation of Loretta Jean McRoberts. However, only little historical background of Symbolist movement was given. The term “symbolism” was misinterpreted as “music that mimics certain objects or emotions”. Geoffrey Allan Wilson evaluated the music and poetry in the works of Debussy and Mallarmé. Instead of the assumption of music was composed for imitating the various elements of the poetry, a more subtle paradigm that shows the similarities and contrarieties of the two media. This study complements the deficiency of McRoberts’. A comprehensive research focuses on the aesthetics of Debussy and the relationship of his aesthetics and

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