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(p.117) 7 Noise
Music in the Present Tense
Emanuele Senici
University of Chicago Press

The chapter begins to address the reasons behind Rossini’s dramaturgy by exploring a theme that emerges frequently in the early discourse of his operas: noise. The charge of excessive loudness and exaggerated orchestration, often supposed to be a consequence of Rossini’s attempts to follow “German music,” was a recurring criticism against his operas, regardless of genre. Some connected it with the Napoleonic wars, linking operatic representation and reality in terms of the psychological and emotional conditions of Rossini’s first audiences. Far from arguing that a noisy orchestration was meant to reproduce a noisy reality on stage, these writers suggest that Rossini attempted to drown out this reality and to create an alternative world which, by force of sheer volume, could replace the real one for at least a moment in the minds and hearts of spectators.

Keywords:   noise, Napoleonic wars, orchestration

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