[lit-ideas] La Cabaletta

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 20 Aug 2009 16:10:21 EDT

In my "Il Palco", I gather my reflections on Italians and Opera, as  
misunderstood by the English of the right century (late Victorians).

Consider cabaletta. The OED notes, "It's not from 'horse'", and the  wiki 
misleads us by saying it's from 'cabal'. Matter of fact, it's a corruption  
of Latin 'copula'.
Consider Atto III of Lucia di Lamermoor (based on the Bride of Lamermoor):  
a compleat master class in bel canto tenor singing, with recit, aria, and  
"Tu che a Dio spiegasti l'ali".
What is interesting to learn is that in vocal arrangements of this for the  
Victorian drawing-room balladry repertoire, the Italian floridities are 
rightly  all evacuated: in their place, the metric of the whole thing makes the 
cabaletta  sound like a common-or-garden music-hall ditty, which it might 
be just as  well!
Warner, who first used 'cabaletta' in English, or at least defined it in  
1844 interpolates the Victorian bias to the Donizetti (Don Izett): "The 
Italians  may suffer a long recit and longer aria, provided they KNOW it will 
closed up  by a cabaletta". And then there's the toast!
J. L. Speranza, The Swimming-Pool Library, Bordighera -- 
_jlsperanza@xxxxxxxx (mailto:jlsperanza@xxxxxxx) 
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