“How does Mozart get our attention in a musical number, that is, how does he begin his music in a dramatically, meaningful way?”
In all vocal music, not just the works of Mozart, the text and the music are inseparable. In opera in particular, the driving force behind recitative and arias are the characters needs and desires. Just as in real life, what the character is saying may be very different from what he or she actually wants. Mozart’s understanding of emotions is clearly portrayed in his music. The way he starts a piece is very important; as an actor, one can draw artistic direction from the orchestra’s music that brings in the vocal line. An example of his dramatic intention through the music at the beginning of a piece is Susanna’s recitative and aria in Act IV of Le Nozze di Figaro: “Giunse alfin il momento...Deh vieni non ...view middle of the document...
“The moment finally arrives when I’ll experience joy, without haste, in the arms of my beloved!”
Figaro, who hides throughout this entire scene, surely feels pangs of betrayal as Susanna voices her “desire” to be with the Count. Susanna, surely, may be “timid” and “fearful,” but it is not for the reasons Figaro believes. Most likely, Mozart wanted Susanna to dig in and make Figaro believe she wasn’t faithful, but she cannot help herself when she talks about love: to her, it is all about her husband.
The aria begins in F Major, with winds and strings, and is seemingly a simple, pretty tune. Mozart shares the opening melody between the oboe and bassoon, two wind instruments that sound most like the voice in their timbre and range. They start with the quarter note followed by an eighth which expresses the happiness that Susanna is feeling at that time; she just got married and is now using her clever ways to teach Figaro a playful lesson. The writing allows Susanna to play both the part of a trickster, and at the same time, that of a devoted lover. “Oh, come, don’t be late my beautiful joy.”(measure #6) Susanna begins the aria with these words. A different composer may have written this aria with a faster tempo, not the malleable Andante Mozart chose. There is an urgency to the text, “Oh, come...” and if Susanna was truly meeting with the Count she may have been nervous and anxious throughout the scene, not tranquil and wistful as she is throughout the rest of the aria.
The marriage of the text and the music was carefully planned. The setting of the text, which on paper seems to tell one story, next to the emotionally amplified music, tells quite a different story. Mozart brilliantly set the text to amplify the drama of the scene, the intention of Susanna, and to give room for future interpretations. There is no wrong or right way to interpret this, and it’s because Mozart composed with a vision that was utterly human.