• Как сделан Подъячий Мусоргского? An Opera Emerging from Gogol's Sleeve—“Musical Synecdoche” in the making

    Miklos Mezosi (see profile)
    American Musicological Society, International Musicological Society (IMS), Literary theory
    Russian literature, Nineteenth century, Russia (Federation), Music, History, Opera, Metaphor, Poetics
    Item Type:
    Opera semiotics, synecdoche, Gogolian mask, 19th-century Russian literature, Russian musical history
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    One of the characteristic elements of Gogol's poetic arsenal, a technique termed as the “Gogolian mask” by Boris Eikhenbaum, re-appears in Musorgsky—not in the comic “Gogol operas” but in a scene of Khovanshchina, his last and most somber opera. The paper focuses on how a particular literary legacy—the Gogolian mask—is adapted for a musical genre. Musorgsky as a composer boasts a considerable poetic vein (he has definitely and passim “intervened” in Pushkin's text to make it adaptable for opera, and has written the libretto for Khovanshchina himself). Taking this into account, and also that he was expressly a great admirer of Gogol, invite an interdisciplinary and comparative approach to elucidate the question. In his essay on Dante, Osip Mandelstam apprehends intuitively what lies at the bottom of the Gogolian mask (though he makes no reference to Gogol), and assumes physiology-based operation for “poetics in action” in Divina Commedia: ”The art of speech distorts the face, bursts its quietness, tears off its mask...” Placing Gogol's masks on this Dantean base, the paper discusses the adaptation by Musorgsky of Gogol's mask, supporting the argumentation with Mandelstam's findings on Dante's poetics. The result of Musorgsky's adaptation is termed as the “musical synecdoche”, the basic element within the “musical metaphor”, a larger unit in “opera rhetorics”. Musical synecdoche breeds musical mask, the aesthetically perceptible form in which it appears.
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    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    3 years ago
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