Maria Taravella



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Maria Taravella, MUS303: Music History 2
Faculty Mentor(s): Professor Carolyn Guzski, Music

My project focuses on Gian Carlo Menotti's (1911-2007) opera The Old Maid and the Thief, written at the inception of his distinguished career in 1939. As a classically trained singer, I am personally invested in this opera, having played one of the principal characters, Laetitia. Thus, I have had the opportunity to study the score in considerable depth. I join this performance perspective with the work's historical background during the mid-20th century, when Menotti's career was at its peak, to gain insights into why the opera was widely acclaimed. I delve into two of its musical set pieces: Laetitia's aria “Steal Me, Sweet Thief,” and Bob's aria, “When the Air Sings of Summer.” I compare and contrast the use of recitatives, key, and articulation, among other musical concepts, to determine how Menotti developed his characters through compositional techniques that fuse music, libretto, and drama. I also devote attention to the analysis of the relationship between the orchestration and the solo voice, a key dynamic pairing in the operatic genre. My discussion points contribute to my project goal of explaining why and how The Old Maid and the Thief was so successful as a radio opera, through audio means alone.

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Innovative Radio Opera of the 1930s: Menotti's The Old Maid and the Thief
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