Cherubino's LeapIn Search of the Enlightenment Moment

Cherubino's LeapIn Search of the Enlightenment Moment

Richard Kramer

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9780226377896

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

For the Enlightenment mind, from Moses Mendelssohn's focus on the moment of surprise at the heart of the work of art to Herder's imagining of the seismic moment at which language was discovered, it is the flash of recognition that nails the essence of the work, the blink of an eye in which one's world changes. This book unmasks such prismatic moments in iconic music from the Enlightenment, from the “chromatic” moment—the single tone that disturbs the thrust of a diatonic musical discourse—and its deployment in seminal instrumental works by Emanuel Bach, Haydn, and Mozart; on to the poetic moment, taking the odes of Klopstock, in their finely wrought prosody, as a challenge to the problem of strophic song; and finally to the grand stage of opera, to the intense moment of recognition in Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride and the exquisitely introverted phrase that complicates Cherubino's daring moment of escape in Mozart's Figaro. Finally, the tears of the disconsolate Konstanze in Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail provoke a reflection on the tragic aspect of Mozart's operatic women. Throughout, other players from literature and the arts—Diderot, Goethe, Lessing among them—enrich the landscape of this bold journey through the Enlightenment imagination.