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Journal, 2, 119-141 4, Cambridge Opera
The silencing of Lucia
MARY ANN SMART
Dalla tomba uscita In Act III of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor,the chaplain Raimondo appears at the wedding celebrations to tell the assembled guests that Lucia has murdered her husband Arturo. While the chorus expresses shock, Lucia enters, dishevelled and deranged;the crowd turns towards her, murmuring 'Par dalla tomba uscita!' This image of a figureemergingfrom the grave,certainly apt by nineteenth-century poetic standards,also suggestsitself as a contemporary metaphor:a shift in critical reception. Traditionally, a noisy chorus of operatic critics has regarded Lucia with a mixture of fascination and horror, emphasising the sepulchral aspects of her madness.Recently, however, a rathersurprisingresurrectionhas been effected through the notion, popular among some feminist critics, that Lucia's mental decline could be interpreted as positive, even liberatory.1 This view has been expressed most flamboyantly by Catherine Clement, for whom madness is one of the few ways an operatic heroine can escape the near-inevitableplot process of seduction and death. Her effusions on Lucia's mad scene illustratethis position vividly: 'Lucia dances with her desires: listen how joyful, airy and peaceful it is. Who says anything about unhappiness? Madwomen's voices sing the most perfect happiness.'2 Clement's 'positive' view may well be a provocative extension of a more flexible understandingof insanity recently advanced by philosophers and literary critics, in particular of Michel Foucault's thesis that insanity cannot be understood as a complex of symptoms, but rather should be defined according to a particular society's construction of irrational behaviour.3 Such a view opens madness to interpretationas politically defined(perhapseven politically 'correct')- behaviour that resides on the margins of society, a potential mode of resistanceto the dominant order. And whatever its influence on Clement, Foucault's position has certainly been adopted by American feminist literary critics, who have interpreted female madness both as an outlet for creative anger and as a woman's only means of escapefrom a patriarchallyrepressivesociety.4 Although such commentariesare frequently persuasive,they also provoke reservations. Besides the obvious objections to interpreting madness as 'positive' for
Such an idea is by no means restrictedto feminist writers. See, for example, Peter Conrad, A Songof Love and Death: TheMeaningof Opera(New York, 1987), 359-60. 2 Catherine Clement, Opera,or the Undoingof Women,trans. Betsy Wing (Minneapolis, 1988), 89. 3 Madness and Civilization (New York, 1965). See Annette Kolodny, 'A Map for Rereading:Gender and the Interpretationof Literary Texts', TheNew FeministCriticism,ed. Elaine Showalter (New York, 1985), 50-4; and Sandra M. Gilbert and SusanGubar, TheMadwomanin theAttic: TheWoman Writerand the Nineteenth-Century LiteraryImagination(New Haven, 1979).
McClary arguesthat the chorus tries to restrainthe heroine by guiding her back to D minor. (In Lucia's mad scene. an escape from patriarchy. represented by such subversive elements as coloratura and chromaticism. response. Lucia. plaint is quotedbothby McClary support the notionof Lucia a feminist as for as heroineand who that Showalter. arestillawaiting examples thistype of serious to the of offerslittlein the response McClary's project. made into an object of consumption for the gaze and ear of the (typically) male spectator. which is grounded in the tradition of nineteenth-century Italian opera. takesthe oppositeposition. a harmonic realm that McClary believes is chargedwith greatpossibilities for resistanceand expression of the feminine. a suitable tonal venue for her distress. 99.harmonic and formal structures. bothdeserves I will responses. The problem may be particularlyacutewhen appliedto Luciadi Lammermoor. for example. the mad scene has been interpreted none the less as a feminist victory. simply becauseher vocal flourishesresist the confining structuresof operatic convention. but must be contained within a 'frame'. wouldhopethatfeministmusicologists inspired McClary testsomeof by hertheories specific on and of repertories. Female Malady reaction generally has beeninterpreted applying the as to (New York. who comes to a doubly tragic end in madness and death.6 This erotic 'excess' must not threaten the audience or the equilibrium of the work. will becomesignificant thatthe ideain factcomesto Emmaduring it later the second andthatsheleaves operawith herhusband loverjustasthe the and act.5 McClary reads Lucia's madness as a potentially threatening eruption of erotic energy.likethiswoman. since most works of art depend on structurein orderto communicate. 6 .)7 workhashada considerable influence scholars on issuesof McClary's wishingto address in music. thatthe second phaseof the endeavour feminist will We of musicology emphasise depthoverbreadth. and all freedom is female and positive: a difficult position in any creativecontext. they may too easily lead to the conclusion that all structures are male and repressive. is nevertheless victorious. Endings (Minneapolis.resisted?' de Emma's 'Oh. and at one point by a move to the flat submediant.SeeMcClary. Although the musical language of the mad Lucia rarely escapes these constraints. McClary equatesthe restrictions around female madnesswith the presence of a chorus: an anonymous group that mediates for the audience.arguing operatic madwomen by Elaine are Feminine The ultimately victims.but that she 'escapes'by elaborateflights of coloratura.1985). a form of artistic expression whose communicative power is more dependent than most on generic constraints. by insisting on the more cheerful F major in her cabaletta. opera's madsceneis beginning. This view is particularly associated with Susan McClary. Feminine 90-9. According to such readings.Emma's madscene. 1991). of Lucie Lammermoor.As the firstto assert relevance gender the previously the of to gender classical 'unisex' of she accolades demands and serious (read male) preserve musicology. reacting to the soprano's ravings with measured expressions of sympathy and alarm. andShowalter.120 MaryAnn Smart women. The interpretation Lucia's of madness resistance as predates and McClary feminist theory in Flaubert Emmawonderat a performance has by morethana century: Madame Bovary. typically by placing a great deal of interpretative pressure on the 'improvisatory freedom' of coloratura and the power of the soprano's voice.essentially masculine .17. whose recent work has interpreted many types of music as a gendered discourse in which elements associated with the feminine well up as an excess through fissures in a work's . Endings. why hadnot she. recentoutburst reaction even-handed wayof clear-thinking.
14-28and29-38. male orderand needingto be confinedor framed withinsocietalboundaries. ofPsychiatric Laura Pleasure Narrative and and on Mulvey. unrestrainedexpression. Ways Seeing of (London. who is eroticised by her pose or clothing. Gilman. this relationship is thrown off balance: while the madwoman remains an object of display and fascination. for a moreextensive studyof .nineteenth-century and and England. and that forms an internal frame for the central image.1976). in keepingwith their function as entertainment. depends on the strength of the forces that confine her. as in Robert-Fleury's much discussed painting of Pinel freeing the insane at the asylum of Salpetriere. John 45-64. thus reinforcing the stereotype that the insane are sexually uninhibited. Berger. patient.8 It is of coursehardlysurprising that. however. is in Female 2.a relationshipenforced by what feminist film theorists term 'the gaze'. Thispainting discussed Showalter. Mind-Forg'd (London. My concern in the following article is to explore the frames 8 10 Illustration (New York.Forananalysis the nudein as for of see European painting a commodity presented the pleasure the malespectator. most also maintain that escape from these frames is possible. Although theories of representation seem to emphasise the fetters and frames implicit in depictions of women.9 The separation created by this internal frame sets up a power relationshipbetween the viewer andthe subject.whether her metaphorical emergence from the tomb can be believed. 'Afterthoughts "Visual Pleasure Narrative and Cinema" in inspired KingVidor'sDuelin theSun(1946)'.The silencing Lucia of 121 Such an interpretation its historicalbasisin the nineteenth-century has belief that madnessis in some way associated with the feminine. 7). Visual by andOther Pleasures of (Bloomington.1972).see SanderL.the woman is surrounded by a circle of sane. Often. playingdown unpleasant By celebrate madness an extremestateof sensaas details. . such representations the accentuated aestheticqualitiesof the affliction. artisticrepresentations madnessproliferated. male observers .artistscouldsimultaneously tion and containits threat. Whether or not such an escapeis possible for Lucia. in a periodwhen visitsto insaneasylums were a popularentertainment.'Visual Cinema'.see Manacles Roy Porter.not aphysical.as observersand consumers.but its originslie at least a century earlier. in which the image's composition allows the (male) viewer simultaneously to identify with and possess the depicted character as a sexual object.Fora moregeneral (see historyof madness the sameperiod.Manynineteenth-century paintingsof the insane. 1990). visual representationsof madness. that a feminine voice can have moments of direct. 1).10In depictions of female madness. detached. reproducing the act of viewing (see Fig. unease and reassurance. Seeingthe Insane:A CulturalHistory Female in Malady n. ElaineShowalter traced evolution the disturbance.to remain outside the madness.a manifestation of the mysteryandthe threatof femalesexuality. of or that. Malady.1987). it becomes essential for viewers of either sex to avoid identification.posits a processby which madnessbecameincreasingly 'feminised': perceived as a threatto the established.in theoriesthat madness wasa psychic.for createan atmosphere displayor spectacle of aroundthe (usuallyfemale) example.likeMcClary . has of thisview in lateeighteenth. The popularappeal this gloomy of equationmay have reachedits peak in Charcot'sand Freud'swork with female hysterics.a chorus that acts as surrogatefor the viewer's simultaneousfeelings of titillation.
in one sense usurpsLucia'svoice.a confinement imposedby the chorusandthe society it standsfor. by . husband her LuciaAshton loves Edgardo who is deemedan unsuitable Ravenswood. Plot as frame that The firstframeis plot. so obviousa mechanism one tendsto forgetits power. to discussLucia'sresistance.an instrument someoneelse'sstory. 1.122 MaryAnn Smart (1876)by Tony painting asylumin Paris: Fig.andquotations melodies flights used earlierin the opera. of the the momentsin which she stretches boundaries her musicalworld . loversandhusbands.to let hersingfor herself. explorethe threatof her madness. perhapsone of the critic'stasks might be to releaseher from her to to bonds. mutedand unableto the tell her own. for within its confinesshe Inevitably. If the tomb from which Luciabriefly issuesin her madsceneis anotherframe. Pinelfreeingthe insaneat the Salpetriere Robert-Fleury.plot in becomesa puppet. and createdby plot and by visualrepresentation.by of of of coloratura. distortion conventional forms.howevertemporarily. A briefandunabashedly biasedsynopsiswill illustrate confinement imposedon Luciaas she moves througha world controlledby brothers. speakfor her.
her eyes glazed and her features convulsed into a wild paroxysm of insanity. hallucinating. an almost mute heroine in a novel whose concerns are largely political and historical. Enrico attempts to persuade Lucia to forget the engagement.as Raimondo later narrates . Lucy Ashton. He is chased from the castle by Enrico.her night-clothes torn and dabbledwith blood .The silencing of Lucia 123 brother Enrico. TheBrideofLammermoor(New York. Told in these terms. Lucia meets Edgardo secretly and becomes betrothed to him. Lucy attacks but does not succeed in killing her new husband. This scene articulatesthe oppositions that control Lucia .91) points . with the frantic gestures of an exulting demoniac. her head-geardishevelled..she imagines her wedding to Edgardo. As they carried her over the threshold.paternal law vs. reminds us that Scott's heroine. and becausehe has chosen as her husbandArturo Bucklaw. the story reveals Lucia's flashes of resistance and eventual submission to patriarchal and social authority.Lucia murders Arturo with his own sword. unsavoury resistance to her surroundings. . Lucia is liberated. Edgardo returns. 'so you have ta'en up your bonny bridegroom?"' In comparison. who can help the ailing family fortunes both financiallyand politically. 323. deranged utterance. showing her a forged letter suggestingthat Edgardois unfaithfulto her. her resistance given voice in a full-scale mad 1 out thatLucy'suseof Scottish dialect thispointsuggests resistance herfamily's at a to aristocratic The of to pretensions. Luciatells Raimondo 'my mind is persuaded. The opera ends with a pair of showpiece solo scenesfor the two protagonists:Lucia'smadscene. roughness Lucy'sspeechmayalsoowe something the of bawdylanguage the madOphelia. she looked down. 1973). After a wedding at which Lucia alreadyappearsto have lost touch with reality. celestial happiness.Lucia agreesto marryArturo. in which..but my heartremainsdeafto reason!'Raimondo's persuasionsfinally succeed when he asks Lucia to act for the sake of her dead mother. Flouting her brother's disapproval. earthly vs.. and pointed at them with her bloody fingers. then subsides cowering into a corner. it is represented largely as pantomime and concludes with a single. heart. McClary (FeminineEndings. feminine emotion. When she saw herself discovered. He disapproves of the union because the Ashtons have long feuded with the Ravenswoods. a figure of paternal authority and guardian of family interests against the threat of Lucia's personal desires. Raimondo. convinces her to sacrificeherself for the family honour. Lucia wavers but does not capitulate until the chaplain. Walter Scott's The Bride of Lammermoor. made mouths.. she gibbered. and uttered the only articulate words that she had yet spoken . Convinced that pursuingher own wishes is unnatural. furious that Lucia has betrayed him. Her madness is a brief. and Lucia and Arturo retire to the bridal chamber where . A comparison with the opera's literary source.and a final scene in which Edgardo commits suicide after being told that Lucia has died. mind vs. is a pawn in the machinations of her family.
musiccan only offercompleteescapeor libePerhaps rationwhenit is placed withinthe contextof spokenlanguage. which are startlingand unrestrained virtue of example by the fact that they are songs. Music. may indeedbe empowered her promiShe by of nence in the opera. Critics Fame: Early 'Popular di Lammermoor Belisario'.. Music Text: in and Critical ed.NewYork (1 1989). detachedfrom reality but disarmingly voluble.But the metaact. and 241-87. with this scene. Thisaestheticisationensured Lucia has that could indeed an enthusiasm captivate audience: forhermad scene been has the of had long-lived.the operatic and Luciaseems is inarticulate frightening. theysomanifestly theyseem presences apatriarchal the full See Not Till promise orrather threat of women's equality.. mostpersuasive The is Ophelia'ssongs.although thiscontext 1991). hasproposed by explored Paul by to that the most musical about fact female response Clement 'perhaps single important opera's victims thattheysing is withanauthority to thatoftheir male This equal oppressors.124 MaryAnn Smart However.compared the alarming gracious. (1990). increased While Scott'sLucy prominence moreanimalthanhuman. of as course. . differentiated from the 'normal'speechof the rest of the play. The accountleaves out a crucial factor: restrictions the 'free'utterance imposedon Lucia's apparently 12 Thenotion themere that of endows heroines power with presence voice operatic despite their victimisation plothasbeen who in Robinson. otherwords. her with the power endowing and energy of voice. seeWilliam the and The of Careers Lucia Ashbrook. Success. revealsa flaw in Clement'sunderstanding Luciaand. Edgardo's so omitted that opera the could withthemad end scene. an extendedappealto the audience'ssympathy. theplot/voice debate onlyaprelude abroader. Although premiere Lucia acomparatively lukewarm later flocked Nellie to Melba's ofthe scene reception. However. since it must heed certaingenericconstraints to remaincomprehensible.liberatory a graspat freedom.14 But once music acts within a fully musicaldiscourse. with tunefulmusic Luciais aestheticised.in of phor all liberatoryinterpretations her madness: assumes of it that there is a spacefor Luciato leap into. 1992).' 'It's Over theSoprano Times Book Review January Robinson's has Dies'. 'Ophelia's inHamlet: Songs at 'Feminism Music: and TowardCommon a unpublished delivered theconference paper 1991. songs music. and an appealing visualportrayal. Minneapolis. PaulScher Inquiries.understood a positive. Clement'sreference the 'perfecthappiness' madwomenis in fact better to of suited to Opheliathan to Lucia. by extension. celebrated lism of Lucy'sbreakdown. audiences performances mad asaconcert and the was suicide usually was piece. Leslie Dunn. to Convention'. of which adds a new dimensionto her character.leapinginto spaceis. argument been 13 in Abbate Unsung Voices in by developed Carolyn (Princeton. Ellen 'Operatic and Madness theFeminine'. expressing pretty sentimentsin In to reahighly stylisedlanguage. Steven (Cambridge. fundamental factmeans women opera rarely vocal that in are as Rather.it creates its own systemof rulesandnorms. and this 2 65-81.12 and vocal power comes a denaturing. journal.13 by of The vibrancy the operatic heroineis partlydueto the verypresence music.. domestication the forcesof plot andspectacle. Language'. operaticrepresentation limits that power: also all music is subjectto restrictions. when opera performed complete.but that power comes at a price:the neutralisation her her madness. 14 Onthepower Ophelia's of as see A Madness:Challenge Rosand.In her superficially characterisation appealing of operaticmadwomenas 'girls who leap into space'. ix. that her musicalexcessesexist in a void. personal is to more of evolved concept voice asthebookprogresses. theearly On of reception Lucia. experiencedvictims.andthuslosesmuchof its powerto liberate. subversive in since contain the culture.
The image derives from Salvadore Cammarano'sstage directions in the libretto printed for the premiere: Luciae in succintae biancaveste: ha le chiome scarmigliate. butthe signsthatherlife is approaching end. Peter Raby.the costuming of madwomen in white was alreadyfirmly enough establishedtowards the end of the eighteenth century for the practiceto occasion satirein Sheridan'sTheCritic(1777). even as she seems to escapefrom plot into voice.la rendesimileaduno spettro.Elaine Showalteridentifies Lucia as one of the paradigmaticimages of feminine madnessin the nineteenth century. Cammarano'snotes on Lucia.Smithson's interpretationcontinued an already existing tradition of stage madness. In other words. still a featureof most modern productions. Sourcebook.i moti convulsi. a historically consciousunderstanding Italianoperawould acknowledge the spaceinto of that which Lucialeapsis occupiedby formalandharmonic constraints determine that the extent of her freedom. the visual representationof Lucia seems particularlyclose to the portrayal of Ophelia in Harriet Smithson's famous Parisianperformancesduring the 1820s: Smithson's trademark was to play Ophelia clad in white with pieces of straw in her disorderedhair (see Fig. specify that her entrance must attract the full attention of the chorus. in white: her dishevelled face give her the appearance more of a ghost than of a living creature. coperto ed dauno squallore morte. herconvulsive movements hermalevolent and smiledisclose only afrightening not insanity. 7). who form up diagonally to watch her.Hallucination. and Macbeth. che gia volge al suo termine. Fair Ophelia(Cambridge. Her stony gaze.in Verdi's (Cambridge. 1982). Crazy Jane. 10-17.] its Indeed.e fino un sorrisomalaugurato non solo una spaventevole demenza. 16 Female Malady(see n. 5 .1984). inevitably recalls the dishevelment of the mad Ophelia. and that Alisa (Lucia'scompanion) must keep her eyes fixed on the heroine: i coristi si formanoin diagonalee cosl veggono Luciache sopraggiunge dalladrittaavvertano coristi di mostrarsi i di compresidi pieta e di terroreper la sciagura Lucia. SeeJonas Barish.The silencing Lucia of 125 by the highly formal traditionof Italianopera.The vision of Lucia clad in a white nightdress. hair and the pallor of deathon her [Luciais dressedsimply.16 three are women disappointed in love. the threateningaspectof the more benign Ophelia and that other popular All archetype of maidenly madness. 149-55. il suo volto.anzicche unacreatura di ad vivente. most likely prepared as a guide for a colleague staging a revival.'Madness. David Rosen and Andrew Porter A ed.ma ben anco i segni di una vita. Sleepwalking'. manifestano II di lei sguardoimpietrito. but only in Lucia is excess of emotion and irrationality channelled into violence againstmen.with dishevelledhair.15 Nor has the connection escapedrecent feminist critics:noting the connection between Ophelia and Lucia. At least as important as Lucia's appearanceis the fact that she is observedby the chorus throughout the mad scene. 2). The body framed The distinction between Lucia and Ophelia is all the more interesting because of similarities in their visual representations.
2..Hare w #71 Smit hsoa 1 4/ t4 / b / Ophli in X 4" Pai.. // 826 j/ti/t Fig. 1826.126 Mary Ann Smart ::' :: f *"a ' 1:. .. Harriet Smithson as Ophelia in Paris. F.
cedi' . Whatever the case.the love duet and her participationin Raimondo's aria'Cedi. a transgression restricted to women on the margins of society. isolating it from her voice. more insidious form of display is represented by Lucia's vocal presence: her extrava17 18 9 notably the long harp solo preceding her cavatina. (1980). most notably Manet's Olympia. This framing takes place before Lucia has uttered a word. who enters from the right.as a display of the female body for male observers.are not. The introductions effectively fetishise Lucia'sbody. On Manet's Olympia. 76-108. in a sense displacing her vocal force by an extreme attention to her physical presence. Cammarano's references to her 'sguardo impietrito' (stony gaze) and 'sorriso malaugurato' (malevolent smile). Dianne Hunter (Urbana. and Difference Pathology: Stereotypes Sexuality. of whichareintroduced longorchestral by preludes. 1985). keeping alive the latent threat of her madness.. ensure that Lucia will be seen before she is heard and that the first expression of her musicalpresence will be communicatedby the orchestra. in Seductionand Theory. as we usually do with unhappy people who have gone out of their minds. submitting her not only to their gaze.. Society Theprivileging sightoversoundin the representation Luciabeginsin herearlier of of most Thesepreludes. such as prostitutes and the insane.17 [The chorus form up diagonally and thus see Lucia. Donizetti 4 32-8. Another. even that presence is ambiguous. and SanderL. the exotic nude who addresses her observers with a defiant stare. Lucia's visual confrontation of her (on-stage) observers recalls the challenging expressions of other renegade women.18 However. most appearances. Let the chorus be sure to show themselves full of pity and terror over Lucia's misfortune.the numbers she sings when she is alreadyon stage. 1989).] The formation of the chorus thus creates a literal frame around Lucia.fromhis 'Cammarano's is Notes forthe Staging Lucia of di Lammermoor'. . E nel volto suo pallente Un sorriso baleno! [She fixed her eyes on me and a smile flickeredover her pale face!] suggest that the very fact of returning the male gaze with such fixity is itself a symptom.'The Uncanny Lure of Manet's Olympia'. but by extension to that of the audience. it seems. All of Lucia'sentrancesare precededor accompaniedby long orchestralpassages:her cavatina. Gilman. and Raimondo's description: Ella me in luce affisse . and reducingthe potentially liberatingpower of her coloratura. ed.the Act II duet with Enrico.see CharlesBernheimer. Returning the gaze is.'Regnavanel silenzio'. and Alisa to keep herself always near at hand. her entrancefor the wedding to Arturo in the Act II finale and the mad scene. Journal.The silencing of Lucia 127 ed Alisa di starle sempre accanto e tenerle d'occhio come e solito a fare con gl'infelici che hanno smarritala ragione. 13-27.Raceand Madness of (Ithaca. for Lucia maintains some power to unsettle her observers by returning the gaze.not her voice. Thetranslation byJohnBlack.19 Coloratura/freedom Lucia's visual presence is represented in terms all too familiar to contemporary feminist critics . following her with her eyes.
an organizedmania:each section of [Lucia's] reveriethus far has endedwith a trill.an explosion of closure. almost never unsettle the unfolding of music and text. memory of the infant's whichis irrecoverable. an unbearablepitch of emotion. 244. but they can never prevent one. . coloraturamight also promise releasefrom meaning and confinement. the mad scene's coloratura stands out as unusual. its melismas both more frequent and more elaborate than those used in 'saner'moments. if we wish to explore the equationbetween coloratura and musicalliberationin anything more than a superficialsense.21 her)announces 20 21 Thisrecalls MichelPoizat's Lacanian of theoryof the significance highnotes. are rarely disruptive. and as embellished repetitions of melodic material. by no means reservedfor extreme states.'lesNotes Bleues'. coloraturais concentratedin severalpredictable contexts: at the ends of phrases.128 MaryAnn Smart roulades melismas. If Luciahas mood swings. an upwardextension.or a roulade. Moreover. Coloraturawas a normal mode of vocal expression in early nineteenth-centuryItalian opera. serious disruption of the musical texture is unusual: melismas have the power to defer a cadence. There is much ornamental writing in Lucia that has no connection with madness:Lucia sings long melismas on many occasions.20 In more strictly musicalterms. In the mad scene. as short. usually on the last few syllables of a line of text. existing outside the limits of periodic structures and goaldirectedtonal harmonies.These episodes. (1991). YaleJournalof Criticism.Opera. In a sense coloratura is free from the confinement of music and of language: a syllable stretched beyond recognition is an escapefrom signification.connect it with melismas and high notes suggest hysteria. excerpts Dennerin thisjournal. Here the evidence is confusing. in an elaboratelytheorised position as 'opera quean'. confined to our sense of an ending. Thereseemsto be an intuitiveconnectionbetweenmadness coloratura: and trills. liberatemusic from text.passagesof displayareultimately subjectto the rationalconstraints dictated by the musical logic of the period. expresses a hint of frustrationat the ultimate sanity of Lucia'sutterance: Fioriturasignifiesa modicumof sanity.and the fact that vocal ornament springsfrom an improvised tradition strengthens this impression. Indeed. sometimes considerably. Lecridel'ange. even if all that survives today is the illusionof spontaneity.5 (1991). they pre-symbolic modes of communication.she (or the musicalarchitecture around whenthe swingis aboutto begin. Thus.or. famouscadenza and the with flute. ou translated Poizat. True.we need to examine its historical context as well as the details of its musical manifestation. while coloratura may be a frequent symptom of irrationalstates.when in wordsandmusicaresubsumed aninarticulate derives into fromthe universal cry. and even Edgardoand Enrico have short passagesof coloraturain their duets with her. gantvocalembellishments. It is easy to sympathise with Wayne Koestenbaumwho. cadenza-like passages closing off each section of a scena. cry. despite their apparent freedom and formlessness.195-211. ashe calls Poizatargues the powerof certain that them.some outburstto announcethat she's done with one thoughtand wants to move onto the next. moments opera. 3 by Arthur 'Opera and Homosexuality: Seven Arias'. as elsewhere. allow it to escapefrom the rational.the emergenceof irrationalityand madness. many coloratura episodes end with familiar cadential formulas that tend to strengthen the arrival at a cadence. However.
the only remaining Lucia ra. perhapstaking the place of Edgardoin a duet texture (see Ex. flute la -i vi - .22Here coloratura has a truly uncanny effect.the completed glass harmonicapart is crossed out and a flute part added.suggestingthat the change was made fairly late in composition (see Fig. the device is marked and its uncanny significanceemerges. One can accept a certain amount of coloratura. 1965). 417. trace of Lucia's madness in an otherwise serene context. Donizetti (London. but as soon as it becomes excessive. andthe fluteaccompanying of a hallucinated voice. although the unavailability of a glassharmonicaplayer in Naples seems plausible. 1. The reasons are unknown. 22 It is well known that the flute was a late addition to the score. 1).of The silencing Lucia 129 coloratura However. replacingthe far more uncanny glassharmonicathat Donizetti originally wanted. 3). but in Lucia's mad scene they are longer and more frequent.at the end of the madscene'sslow movementLucia's finally the cadential seemsto overstep thesearchitectural conventions. In the autograph. See William Ashbrook. a noi sa ra L- ta a no i Ex. wildlyexaggerating extensionsandtext repetitions: latterareso numerous to overwhelmmeanthe as in thirdsandsixthssuggests uncannypresence the ing. The logical conclusion would seem to be that the signification of coloratura is a question of degree: the same melismatic formulas occur in saner moments or in other operas. .
doubtless in form of the cadenza saw fit (see Fig.perhapsa product of the later nineteenth century's demand for ever-increasingpyrotechnics from its Lucias.all exaggerated. the 1850s in the performancesof Teresa Brambilla. L'opera Donizetti (Bergamo.the accompanying flute. and elaborate coloratura . The established probablyoriginated the Fig.the cadenzawith flute. Ashbrook.The construction of the cadenza and its continuing popularity suggestthat it is indeed the degree of coloraturathat matters.perhaps that each succeedingera becomes accustomedto a certain level and demandsever more at moments of extreme dramaticintensity.130 Mary Ann Smart howthis The precisepoint at which coloratura assumes new meaning depends. of course. di 376.23 It includes the excessive elements of the mad scene .andGuglielmo nell'etiromantica 1948). (Cambridge. This virtuosicextravagance not. and see Donizetti hisOperas 1982). 3. Donizetti's autographscore of Lucia di Lammermoor: cadenza of Lucia's mad scene (Act III). is in ever. . 3). writtenby Donizetti. Barblan. 23 On the originof the cadenza. of This at leastseemsto be the casewith the most celebrated passage coloratura was in the mad scene.whosenotationin the autograph indicates vaguely as intendedto be embellished the singer a dominantseventharpeggio. the quotation from the love duet (alreadyheard once in the scena).125. on the historicaland musicalsurroundings which the passage heard.
In dramatic terms. and she continues in recitative. the tempo di mezzo and the cabaletta. As we see from Example 2. the formal frame of the mad 24 'Conventional double ariastructure'consists of four movements: the scena (in recitative).a God hasgivenyou to me . she becomes contemplative rather than active. [At lastI amyours.. a resistance to the prevailing social and musical forms..a symptom of her madness .often a virtuosic showpiece. however. ....For while form is probably the most highly stylized aspect of Italian opera.perhaps as a result . Only Lucia seems not to recognisethis.The silencing Lucia of Resistance to form 131 While coloraturaseems a naturalplace to look for Lucia'sproto-feministresistance.. would be to examine form and distortions of form for signs of a more profound or more convincing liberation.. a moment of liberation.this crucial moment is blurred in the mad scene: the beginning of the slow movement conflicts with Lucia's continuation in a scena-like style.. this could be interpreted either as an inability to recognise the shift from scena to slow movement .imaginingthe wedding ceremony: Ardongli incensi.or. O happyday!] When she does finally take up the theme. the arrival in F major and the flutes' introduction of the main theme indicate the start of a slow movement. Give me [The incenseburns.. The text of the scena is written in the unrhymed..24Whereas the change from one movement to another traditionally coincides with a point of dramaticarticulation.. a less obvious approach.the musical dimension most commonly manipulatedand distortedfor expressive effect. to state the case in resolutely feminist terms.. There is a striking example of this distortion in Lucia'smad scene:an ambiguous transition between the scena and the slow movement depicts her loss of control over the rational discourse of conventional double aria structure. a lyrical slow movement. Lucia and her words on another. the orchestral evidence is fairly unequivocal: the change of metre. apparentlyindicatingthat the ceremony is over: Alfinson tua. splendon Lesacre intorno! faci Eccoil ministro! Porgimi Ladestra Oh lieto giorno! . while the other three movements are in versilirici or metred verse.sei mio. disturbingly out of step with the opera's formal process. A me ti dona un Dio . the holy torchesshine aroundus! Here is the minister! yourhand. as a deliberateflouting of formal convention. it is also . free verse known as versisciolti.you aremine. suggesting at least a temporary liberation from the aria's formal framework.] The orchestral accompaniment appears to move on one plane. Once the slow movement is under way. though perhaps one more sensitive to the particular context of Italian opera.
7^1 oh t^' lie - a' tQ"~i~-n?-r pr gior - to no! Oh lie to! Xb JAl - C fin DN^ son tu a. a . 2. y flutes _ ~~.i .nistro! r - UA J2 por - . ilrD al fin sei J mi - J o. :I Ex.tor - no...si.132 Lucia Mary Ann Smart t) strings Y> Ar. splen-don in . Ec-co il mi- tlr ._b . P 7 splen-don le sa-cre fa-ci.mi la de-stra.don gl'in cen . ^^ gi. . V r .jb .
I saw her lips move. Quandoun sommesso gemito Fral'aure udirsi fe. redwith blood. describing the atmosphere by the fountain. 381.The silencing Lucia of 133 scenefallsbackinto place.there is a much more interesting moment in the slow movement of Lucia's Act I cavatina. . Chiamarmi se parea. Donizetti and his Operas(n. while the fourth alternates two lines of action with two of description. E con la manoesanime. Perhapsit is no accidentthat Emma admiresLucia's resistanceafterthis cavatinaand not afterthe mad scene. but ratherused the substitute ariafrom Rosmondad'Inghilterra.both women are loved by Ravenswoods and both become victims of their passion: Ascolta: nel Regnava silenzio Altala nottee bruna. each of 25 the French versionof the operathatFlaubert writingaboutprobably not include was did The originality of the cavatinacomparedto the mad scene againrecallsEmma Bovary's remarkabout Lucia after hearingAct I. Poi rattadileguo. 'Que n'avons nous des ailes'. beforeso was clear.and the water. in is If. then swiftly vanished. a Stetteun momentoimmobile.25This narrative of Lucia's encounter with a ghostly woman who was stabbed near the fountain by a jealous lover is obviously a trope of her own story . at the fountain's to edge. 23). She stood still a moment. A pale ray of the gloomy moon struckthe fountain.Donizetti endswith a cabaletta that. she seemedto beckon me to her. as this famous example suggests.] Although the text corresponds formally to many operatic narratives. history suggestsotherwise: 'Regnavanel silenzio'. as if to speak. the third describesher actions. 'Ascolta'. despiteits wealth of coloratura. However. Following the classic introduction.when a subduedgroanwas heardon the breezeand there.Donizetti's treatment is unusual. The first quatrainsets the scene. [Listen:Silenceand darkness reignedover the night. almoststartling its formalregularity. E l'ondapriasi limpida Di sangue rosseggio. The traditional musical expectation for such a symmetrically structured narrative would be a strophic aria. 'Regnavanel silenzio'. Colpiala fonteun pallido di Raggio tetraluna.the phantom appeared me. suo I1labbro vedea. each split between description and action. a muoversi Qualdi chi parla. See Ashbrook. the text is in two stanzas.and with a lifelesshand. an aria with far more sustained resistance to formal convention than the mad scene. the second narrates the appearanceof the ghost. we can assume an equation between formal irregularityand resistance. Edeccosu quelmargine L'ombra mostrarsi me.
does not mime it.but the next eight barstake an unexpected flat majorin a flurryof coloratura the line 'L'ombramostrarsi me'. By reshaping the narrative in this idiosyncratic way. insteadof a straightforward form or a strophicdesignwith two repetitions lyric of the principalmaterial.27 setting lyric of the next two lines leansbacktowardsE flatminor. The time-honoured metaphoricalconnection between unsettled form and an unsettled characterwould suggest that Lucia is unable to narrate the events as if they were entirely in the past and could therefore be framed as strophic narrative. Lucia separates herself A well-known example of this type is Leonora'snarrativefrom Act I of II trovatore.The of expectedrepeatof the opening materialfollows this outburst:a modifiedand embellished versionof the firstphrase in appears G flat. The melodic pattern of lyric form could be schematisedas a a' b a" (or c). such a pattern is often modified. with each phrase lasting four bars and setting two lines of text. or simplyan expanded is exampleof lyric form?After only eight bars. as if on a the appearance the ghost had shatteredLucia'snarrativecompetence. Howaccompaniment this story is active. although shaped by text in many respects. narrative the becomeshybrid.26 aria's6/8 metre and the arpeggio in the clarinet evokethe mood of sucha strophicnarrative.But here all formalexpectations conare founded: this a strophicform afterall.the initialdisruption motivated the ghost'sappearance.now abbreviated in the tonic and a description the aftermath the ghost'spresence.'Tacea la notte'. The repeated the of notes of the voice are subordinated agitatedorchestral to motion leadingback to E flat for anotherreturn of the originalmaterial. its changesmotivatedby eventsin Lucia'snarrative for example.As we see from Example3.encompassing elements of competing modesof formaldiscourse.it is strophiconly in the broadestsense:the musicalform follows the content of the text. phrasetypical non-strophic slow movement. arounda thrice-heard Althoughthe movementis clearlyorganised phrase. lyric formwould demand returnof the opening a swerve.the hint of a secondstrophedisintegrates an into eerie transitionnarrating disappearance the ghost. by Equallyunconventionally. of of major.in whatcouldbeinterpreted as the beginningof a second strophe.its past eventsseemingto intrudeviolently into Lucia's ever.At this point.forminga repeated two-bar of the contrasting middlephraseof a conventional. Lucia seems to emancipateherself from the tyranny of plot in 'Regnava nel silenzio'.she continually inserts herself and her own experience into the story. Furthermore. modulatingfrom E flat minor to its relativemajor. In the minor mode.moving back to G phrase. ending with a new phrase in the parallelmajor. taking control of the act of narrationand imprinting this episode with her own voice. in other words. In other words.subject only to Lucia'swill. 26 27 . the music.accompanying Thus.134 Mary Ann Smart The the two stanzasset to the same music. seeming ultimately to float free of both verbal and musical constraints. setting a two-stanzatext with three strophes of unequal length. present. the text does not account for all the formal anomalies. it departsfrom theform of the libretto. the firsteight barsof the vocal partsuggest less a strophicnarrative than the firstpair of four-bar phrasesin a conventional The form.
.dir si p fe.tra lu - na.te e 4 b _ V bru - F I9 k na. ah! 1 mo.. quan-do un som-mes ..gio di te .strar-si.bra d~h"'"r me.ne 1 l'om .co su 3 quel mar-gi 3 ' . muo H ver si .The silencing of Lucia 135 1 A ?l6l ( t Lucia LA r I Re .ta la not.re u .gna.te v R C5> rP I I un pal - 7 li. l'om-bra mo-strar-si a Xbll - p Qual di P4 chi par - p la. e ge - ^co.to 3 1 F r P i r'^r fra 3 l'au ..pia la fon .va nel si - len zio I al. mi .so y^l.do rag . I bi col . ed ec - ec.
chia.bi .-- -. .I.mar.--n - - I Ji 1 ! I I I -~ ~gbC~g r b~ - I il lab-bro su. si.le.gue ros . pria si lim-pi - da di san . poi rat . 3.-.seg- gib.men . stet.to im .mo .pi 33 tr 1 da di II1 i. e con la ma . ah - - - - - - i! ros - seg- gib.pi - da. si.le - i bb gub.sa - ni-me. ~ A 640 tY r - . r e l'on da pria si '31 3 1p lim .no e- = ' - .gib.mi a se pa - re - a. san3 gue 3 1 b fr ros- seg s~Ktr ! rtr . Ex.136 Mary Ann Smart ?n A XN.te un mo. pria si tr lim.o ve -de 23 a.ta di .
imprisoned by its own representation.Just as Lucia's apparently free coloratura is constrained by harmony and phrase structure. as befits a victim. The scena quotes three moments heard earlier in the opera: the themes from 'Regnava nel silenzio' and from Lucia's wedding are transformed. Recalled themes perform two complementarydramaticfunctions. music adheres almost slavishly to the shifts in the text. However. in which her voice with its coloratura outbursts remains chained to the text in a way that her later. echoing the double-edgedsignificancesof both coloratura and form. form is only one element of a layered and ambiguousrepresentationthat rarely escapesits frame for long. Voice and silence Further contradictory meanings are conjured up by the mad scene's use of quotation: the intrusion of themes from earlier in the opera calls into question the scene's temporal frame by turning to the musical past. by other musical parameters. While they seem to mirror her freely associative thought processes and so derail conventional forms. even as she describesher mute counterpart. reinforcing the frame formed by plot. The comparison of Lucia'scavatinaand madscene ultimately suggeststhat the musicalsigns of madness can be contradictory:even where formal freedom denotes the triumph of emotion over convention in the cavatina. the power of Lucia's voice is summoned by the opera's libretto and music.Like coloratura. which must balancethe celebration of irrational excess and its containment. Second. In the cavatina. so that. intruding on an already existing musical discourse. one might advance a conflicting interpretation of this moment: far from expressingliberation. First. perhaps in this case mimicking Lucia's confused thought processes. they also anchor her discourse in the past. the progressionof 'Regnavanel silenzio' suggestsmusical discourse trapped by signification. by evoking the past. or framed. fragmenting and interrupting it. but Luciaresistsby means of her elaborateand formally anomalousmusicalexpression. the quotations in the mad scene work both for and against Lucia's liberation. as well as the act of representingmadnessitself. tying her flights of fantasy and improvisation to past events. her departuresfrom conventional form are likewise controlled. silenced by the unnamed forces that killed her.The silencing Lucia of 137 fromthe ghostlywomanshe both describes superficially and resembles: ghost the is mute. It is of course common practice in . And like these other musical elements. even representing her only real moment of escape in formal terms. Here. while in a sense it foreshadows Lucia's madness. This struggle between liberating and confining elements on the formal level recallsthe tension between the contradictoryelements of coloratura. the contrast with the ghost who moves her lips and tries in vain to speak revealsLucia'sown vocal potency.that from her love duet with Edgardo is recalled literally. The interplay of these functions is something of a recurring theme itself. they tend to be formally disruptive. mad outbursts do not. it seems ultimately to present a sane vision of the heroine.Lucia'svoice remainsfetteredby language. they establishclear meaning within an otherwise disorganised musical discourse. then.
The prominence of the orchestraturns out to be crucial. the similarities are none the less striking: the characteristic melodic pattern is the interval of a rising sixth (sometimes alteredto a fourth) followed by a descent. Lucia participates melodically only in the first. each melody modulating to the relative major in the second half (see Ex. but the melodic skeleton is the same (see Ex. William Ashbrook has suggested 28 Other examples occur in Donizetti's Linda di Chamounixand Bellini's I pirata.len . Although the text at this point in the mad scene has no direct connection to that of the cavatina. Like the quotation from the cavatina. 5). is employed in Donizetti's Anna BolenaandMariaPadilla. while the relatedconvention of recallinga song from the past. and againin Bellini's I Puritani. and two are transformed to the point of being difficult to recognise. a gesture that invites further psychological connections between the cavatinaand the mad scene. though not one heardearlierin the opera. .the referentialfunction of the mad scene's wedding quotation is veiled. The mad scene begins with a veiled and distorted quotation of 'Regnava nel silenzio' initiated by the flute and picked up by Lucia after its opening phrase.1976). Heinz Becker (Regensburg. 4.te e bru - na flute X.279-310. See SieghartD6hring. The context of the motif is radicallyalteredby embellishmentsand shifts of mode. often the music of a previous The quolove duet: a familiar example occurs in Act III of Bellini's I Puritani.28 tations in Lucia have roots in this tradition. r f f CrTr S Ex.138 Mary Ann Smart mad scenes to quote earlierthemes from the opera. ed. 4). constructing her musical utterance from misremembered and disorderedfragmentsof her past. 'Die Wahnsinnszene'.Jahrhunderts. the thematic recall implies that Lucia is living out the fate of that earlier lover. etc. but with significant differences:all three are presented primarily by the orchestra. in Die 'couleur locale'in der Operdes 19. The strange orchestral music that Lucia interprets as the procession music for her wedding to Edgardo is a version of the music that accompaniesher entrance for the real marriageto Arturo in the Act II finale. Re-gna-va nel si . Although the metre and tempo of the cavatinatheme are altered.zio al-ta la not.
23).ri ti Ex. 5. zr I V I l 1 r klil-. . Ver orch.A gesturewith such a clear referential function may have the effect of familiarising. associative 29 Ashbrook. in its original key of B flat major (see Ex. which occurs earlierin the scena. Ex.6. Lucia A I I I k " v' . et. forcedwedding. Donizetti and his Operas(see n. 6. 6).r II ran - I II no a te I I sul l'a u - I 1 re i .c. the reminiscence of the love duet. _ _____ _ Ex. reference farfrom the is obscure. a force that represses rebellious at the coloratura the momentof herdefeat. 1VI 7 etc.The silencing of Lucia 139 A . the fact that but the quotation it comesfromthe orchestra alsoassociate with a voice outside might her but Lucia. f-lc 1 .29 travesty The parallelwith the earlierweddingis obviouslysignificant. _- i r I Ir ^r I r \I A V~' f miei [' r - rI i ar den - i :r a - so spi . the form of the orientating listeneramidstthe loose. thatLuciasomehowconfuses two ceremonies hermind. 379.hearing distorted in the a of the originalmusicwhile she imaginesthe weddingwith Edgardo. In contrast. is unsettlingly literal:the orchestraquotes eight barsfrom the beginning of Lucia's and Edgardo's Act I cabaletta. This is probablythe most memorable tune in the opera.makingit not a symptomof her madness.
bringsto mind Foucault'scharacterisation the language insanityas a meaningless of of disorder thatmustmasquerade rational as structure orderto be communicated comprein in hensiblelanguage.each of which can be interpreted 0 31 Madness Civilization n. . World Opera itsInhabitants'.it lies in the three musicaldimensionsI have chosen to discuss. from a sea of but elements. often role This entails shift a in assign theaudience's of where composer's issituateda temporary the voice understanding consciousnesstheapparent of of and to their power characters orchestra structure own from influence thecomposer.The orchestra has. interlocking oftencontradictory To the extent that any logicalpatterncan be extracted from the 'meaningless disorder'that comprisesthe 'meaning'of Lucia'smadness. liberatory to its defeat. from 'meaningless not but disorder'. A from (Chicago.referentially to linkedto eventsof herpast. not only externalto her. Alla tombatornata Even a discussionof these few aspectsof Lucia suggeststhat the signification of madness far from simple:conflictinginterpretations the norm. completethe framing of the mad scene. the scenais Lucia'slast momentof true resistance: continuesto fightagainst she musicalnorms.In this way. and any is are 'rational' of operaticmeaning riddled is with contradiction ambiand explanation The impossibilityof arrivingat any singleunderstanding guity.which containsthe irrationality Lucia's of madness ensures it remains that and comprehensible. hearing theorchestra atheme recall without being its in text into signalled thesung calls question thesubordinate wegenerally to 'accompaniment'. makingit clear that Luciais relivingthe love duet. and (see Another dimension thepower of invested theorchestra quotation inthefact in lies that by the to the status characters quotations have power question conventional of operatic may and their orchestra.140 MaryAnn Smart disordered scena. full of juxtaposed melodiesand rapidchanges of key. factthatallthreequotations initiated the orchesby tra andplayedout against Lucia's incoherent vocalfragments surelysignificant. steppedout of its habitualrole as the compliantcommunicator Lucia's of If is thoughts. in other words.and they assert the power of the past.31 the of in Perhaps enterprise studyingmadness operamerely intensifies problemsof operaanalysisin general: critic must attemptto the the extracta rationalstructure. the quotationfunctionsas an element of the rationalform of the madscene. is that but suggesting they arenot herusualmodeof expression. but also something external the madscene. 125-38.The quotationsprovideone of those threads. flitting from one theme and key to another. separate theoverall controlling 'The of and inMusic: View Delft Cone. 3).crushingLucia'slast attemptat resistance forcingher and to giveway to the palesubmission the setpiece. but rathercontribute They have no part in her metaphorical. the quotationanchorsthe meaningof the scena. of especially the semanticrigidityof the quotationfrom the love duet.with only slight unifyingthreads. Edward discourse. voice. 100and107.In that context. 1989). comefromoutside. we the as in Although accept useof quotation conventionalitself.30 this reading accepted. As mentioned the are earlier.The threequotations.overpowering excessof Lucia'svoice and coloratura the with a force residingin the orchestra. of See T.
uniting himself with the power of the family and the male-dominatedpast that have contributed to Lucia's defeat. by by herresistance crushed the weightof herpast. As Edgardo communes with his dead ancestors. a bell tolls. The silencing of Lucia is symbolically completed in the sound of that tolling bell. the bell that rings her return to the grave and. of course. by identifiedby Clementmay be possiblefor some Escapefrom the juggernaut but not for Lucia. of musicallanguage by the oppressive and power of the plot. which bearsdown on her in the shapeof the quotations. almost . seen and gloriously heard. her voice overwhelmed the orchestra.The silencing Lucia of 141 both in termsof liberation confinement. but now the coloraturaresideswhere it should. the chorus approaches from the castle: Lucia is dying and has called for him. the complete submergence of her voice in Edgardo's cabaletta. perhaps into determined only near-escape. . threereferences pastmusical represent with the men who They recallthree crucialmomentsof Lucia'sconfrontation to control her. like the ghostly woman at the fountain.drowning the memory of Lucia'svoice. and the last we hear of her voice. as Edgardodies on stage. The true silencing of Lucia is at last felt in this final gesture. WhileLucia's coloratura manipuand and or lationof formssuggest somedegree escape of fromorderandrepression. she is present. Her voice sings on briefly.Luciadoes compete indeedseemto be defeated the plot. announcing her death. in the opera's final scene. in the mad scene's cabaletta. not interfering too much with text or musical logic: Lucia has become a music box. at phraseends and in cadentialsections. tinkling out chromaticscalesand ornaments. ultimately theprisonof theirinternally subsiding the to the finaldefeat. Although this empty coloratura is the last we see of Lucia.bereft of the urgencythat characterised her earliermusic.but not quite .She is finally defeatedboth by the forces operaticheroines. Before Edgardo can respond to the summons. material conventions. finally. Aural traces of Lucia become increasingly remote: the chorus's evocation of her ineffectual cries for Edgardo.finally overwhelming power of her the voice. she has tried to speak and not been heard. disembodied and muted. when the orchestra recallsthese moments.
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