Music as the Perfecting of Poetry: Liszt – Sonetto 104 del Petrarca (c. 1846)

Petrarch/Liszt, sonnet 104. “The effect of the abbaabba octave is truly remarkable. It is actually a blend of 3 brace-rhyme quatrains, since the middle 4 verses whose sounds overlap the others and echo their patterns, impress the reader with a similar sound pattern, thus, abBAABba.”(Alex Preminger, ed., Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics) Canzone CIV…

Piazza San Marco, Venezia

Proust and Schubert, Captive

Proust’s The Fugitive has taken me captive. Though I am nearing its end, because of the nature of its style, Proust requires a slow and not always continuous reading. Towards its conclusion it gathers an extraordinary density to and within itself and, furthermore, an extraordinary disposition to the refulgence of mortal change, the observations liberated therein…

Francesco Hayez: Der siebente Kreuzzug gegen Jerusalem (1838-1850)

Giuseppe Verdi – I Lombardi (1843)

I Lombardi, Verdi’s fourth opera, is set during the First Crusade. The librettist is Temistocle Solera. The libretto is based upon Tomasso Grossi’s verse epic in 15 cantos. Solera was also the librettist for Oberto (1839), Nabucco (1842), Giovanna d’Arco (1845), and Attila (1846). He was an active anti-Austrian resister, and was once incarcerated for…

Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, where Gounod's opera Mireille is set

Gounod and Mistral – Mireille

The video below is Vincent’s aria in the second scene of the fifth and final act of Charles Gounod’s 1864 opera Mireille, written the year before his remarkable Faust, based on the first part of Goethe’s play. Mireille contains fascinating music. The libretto is based on Frédéric Mistral’s long lyric poem Mirèio. Mistral was the 1904…

Marcel Proust

Exhaustion and Intoxication

“… while pretending not to have heard anything, and preserving in her fine eyes, ringed with dark shadows by the habit of listening to Debussy more than they would have been by that of sniffing cocaine, the exhausted look induced by musical intoxication alone, would revolve nevertheless behind her splendid brow, bulging with all those…