9th Biennial Conference on Baroque Music


Murder in Armenia, and Voices in Opera Seria

Reinhard Strohm

How does an event become history? How, before that, do actions become an event? If an event such as the assassination of the Armenian Prime Minister on 28 October 1999 were to be turned into an opera seria in the Italian manner, the manipulations required might illuminate what has come together in an actual opera seria: events, plots, beliefs, authors, writers, performers, patrons, listeners, and so on. Johann Adolf Hasse's "Zenobia" (Warsaw, 1763) on a dramma per musica by Pietro Metastasio based on an episode of Armenian history, is used to trace the gathering of these various ingredients - or indeed 'voices' - into a particular 'work' but also their partial rejection, subsequent dispersal and failed connections. The relative status of these 'voices' is assessed one by one, to establish their emergence and perhaps disappearance in the process. This approach rides across the 'event' of the opera and, unlike the search for voices in a musical score alone, recognises the living process.

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Last updated on 22 March 2000 by Yo Tomita