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(p.231) 14 Movement
Music in the Present Tense
Emanuele Senici
University of Chicago Press

This chapter takes the argument beyond the psychoanalytical understanding of Rossini’s repetition explored in the previous one. Although repetition seems to be the main tool through which operatic representation keeps messy reality at bay, it is possible to reconceptualize this relationship. Through repetition, operatic representation distances itself from any suggestion that its function is somehow to reproduce or imitate reality: repetition allows operatic representation to free itself from an aesthetic of mimesis. In this sense, repetition promotes precisely the essentially modern theatricality that commentators have long considered a defining characteristic of Rossini’s dramaturgy. Exploring the music aesthetics of two philosophers who were also great fans of Rossini, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Arthur Schopenhauer, and then turning to Søren Kierkegaard’s and Gilles Deleuze’s ideas on movement and theatricality, the chapter argues that Rossini’s repetition worked as an opportunity to go beyond representation altogether, finding instead a movement “capable of affecting the mind outside of all representation” and of “making movement itself a work” (Deleuze’s words). Grounding Deleuze’s theories historically in the early nineteenth-century aesthetic of the sublime suggests that the sublime constitutes a valid interpretive category for Rossinian dramaturgy’s rapturous embrace of the impossibility of representation.

Keywords:   mimesis, theatricality, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Arthur Schopenhauer, Søren Kierkegaard, Gilles Deleuze, sublime

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