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A Song of Other Times: The Transformation of Ossian in Calzabigi’s and Morandi’s Comala (1774/1780)
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Culture and Aesthetics.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8903-7739
2019 (English)In: LIR.journal, E-ISSN 2001-2489, no 11, p. 23-46Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The opera libretto Comala (1774) by Ranieri Calzabigi has traditionally been regarded as one of the poet’s lesser creations. It has sometimes been dismissed as being too closely based on Melchiorre Cesarotti’s influential Italian translation from 1763 of the eponymous dramatic poem, which James Macpherson included in his 1762 collection of the songs of Ossian, adapted or translated from Gaelic oral poems. In the present article, however, the author argues that Calzabigi’s Comala was not only an independent adaptation but also a highly original attempt to translate the peculiar poetic and cultural features of the Ossianic world – its savagery, sublimity, melancholy, and psychological obscurity – into theatrical terms. In this experimental musical drama, Calzabigi depicts the mysterious death of the overstrung heroine as the culmination of a process of withdrawing physically from the other characters and ultimately from the stage itself, as a metaphor for her gradual withdrawal from life and reality. The article ends with a discussion of Pietro Morandi’s setting of the libretto, performed in Senigallia in 1780, in which Calzabigi’s dramatic choices are translated into music. Adhering closely to the principles of Gluck’s and Calzabigi’s Viennese operas, Morandi’s Comala is the first example of a "reform opera" written specifically for Italy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. no 11, p. 23-46
Keywords [en]
Ranieri Calzabigi, Pietro Morandi, Comala, Ossian, James Macpherson, sensibility, Giuseppe Millico, Naples, opera
National Category
Musicology Performing Art Studies General Literature Studies
Research subject
Theatre Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-169382OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-169382DiVA, id: diva2:1320139
Conference
Comala and Nina: Operatic Performance in the Age of Sensibility, Vadstena, Sweden, 6 August, 2016
Projects
Enlightenment Anthropology and Italian Opera: The Revolutionary Theatre of Ranieri Calzabigi
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 1515509Available from: 2019-06-04 Created: 2019-06-04 Last updated: 2019-08-30Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
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