• Charting the Phenomenology of Music [preprint]

    Miklos Mezosi (see profile)
    Poetics, Semiotics, Comparative literature
    Item Type:
    19th century Russian opera, Opera semiotics, Musorgsky, Gogol, Dante Alighieri
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    The present paper forms part of a complex research project based on a closed-reading approach I am conducting in opera semiotics and literary and philosophical anthropology with the aim to provide a series of interpretations of drama and opera of selected operas of Mozart and plays of Shakespeare, inviting Nietzsche and Kierkegaard as our guides. The thorough study of the subject invites comparisons which should lead to new insights into the musical drama, i.e. the way drama is conveyed by the musical form. To quote Osip Mandelstam, "Music is no guest here called in from outside, but an active participant in the debate, or to put it more precisely, the one who promotes discourse”. The term I have coined as the "phenomenology of music” refers to the methodology of outward or perceptible indications depicted (or the depictability of such indications) in form(ation)s and configurations related to and conditioned by the musical expression. The findings presented in this paper are intended to serve as a stepstone for close-reading based analyses of other operas. In the first part of this paper I offer a close-reading analysis of a scene from a Musorgsky opera leading us to identify a "musical trope” – the musical metaphor – which I term as the "musical synecdoche.” Musical tropology, likewise metaphor in language, becomes a key tool in approaching the musical work. One of the characteristic elements in the poetic arsenal of Gogol, a technique termed by Boris Eikhenbaum as the "Gogolian mask,” reappears in Musorgsky's last opera, Khovanshchina, having a musical genre adapt a literary legacy. The second part of the paper approaches the subject in a more pragmatical way, insofar it examines an opera staging set, the Figure of the Child from Andrei Tarkovsky's production of Musorgsky's Boris Godunov, intending to draw attention to the importance of selecting the right tools in designing the visuality of an opera performance.
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    4 years ago
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