Foregrounds and backgrounds

The action pressed in domestic walls perimeter without description of the landscape beyond the windows, is a characteristic which can be particularly discoverable in italian XIX Century “opera buffa”. At dramaturgic level, the interest toward the forestage “hinc et nunc” predominates, because there fights, debates, reconciliations inside the house’s and family’s borders are set. The landscape’s presence would shift and lead the spectator attention outside, a position in this case, incidental for the plot and the problems posed and proposed by it.
Still, at conceptual level, this choice makes jet more sensational the perception of acoustic stratification, of the “full” and “void” concerning singers and instrumentalists presences created in the full score. We can think to Rossini’s “crescendo”, by which the composer fills the set devoid of field of view depth, delimited by walls and ceiling, without outlets, so that the sound resonates and thunders. Thus the room saturates until to “explosion”.
Seville is out of view beside the windows of Bartolo’s house in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, in the set captions of La Cenerentola, landscape visible from the windows is omitted. The same situation is discoverable in Donizetti’s opera comica librettos.
Vice versa, in tragic repertoire, the details lack in backstage, underline a constrictive space, a cage-space. The claustrophobic world where the Ashton family live sealed, in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor is opposed to wild, stürmisch dimension, used in the scene where Edgard acts (excepted the Finale II, when he becomes the disagreeable host in his enemies salon).
From Violetta’s living room and bedroom windows, just like in Flora Gallery’s, the description of landscape is excluded, Paris views are absent. The city is evoked only in the dialogues. Dying Violetta wants to see the day light and she orders Annina to open the windows (“Da’ accesso a un po’ di luce”), therefore her last life mouthfuls, with the Carnival sounds, invading her bedroom silence. Similarly, Philip II private room in Verdi’s Don Carlos received the rising light of the dawn, but does not offer suggestions concerning landscape. Arrigo Boito, in set captions of Verdi’s Otello IV act, “forgets” to describe windows in Desdemona’s bedroom.
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