Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)
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Scholarly work on Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s singers has focused particularly on the soprano voice. There is a general neglect of attention on the low female voice—or what we would commonly call the “mezzo-soprano”—in his operas. As a mezzo-soprano and singer of Mozart repertoire (both female and travesti roles), I find it imperative that a comparative study of Mozart’s compositional treatment between both the castrato and mezzo-soprano voice be created to better understand Mozart’s style and intent for composition for these voice types.
This document is geared toward singers and teachers alike and will examine select arias of the castrato and mezzo-soprano roles in Mozart’s operas. I will observe Mozart’s treatment of these two voice types in select female and travesti roles. I have chosen to examine nine arias from the following operas: Ascanio in Alba, K. 111 (1771), Idomeneo, re di Creta, K. 366 (1781), Le nozze di Figaro, K. 492 (1786), Così fan tutte, K. 588 (1790), and La clemenza di Tito, K. 621 (1791). The specific roles examined will include Ascanio (Ascanio in Alba), Idamante (Idomeneo, re di Creta), Sesto (La clemenza di Tito), Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro), Dorabella (Così fan tutte), and Vitellia (La clemenza di Tito). My decision to discuss arias from these particular roles is a result of the accessibility of resources regarding the singers and music of their opera premiere performances.
By studying the scores of the arias of Mozart’s operas in the Neue Mozart-Ausgabe, reading the letters, examining the aria table I created (Appendix C), and exploring the castratos’ prominence and decline in popularity, thus leading to the emergence of the “mezzo-soprano,” I will join other Mozart scholars in their views that Mozart did in fact compose for specific singers.
Aria; Castrato; Mezzo-Soprano; Mozart; Opera
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Gonzalez, Erin, "Mozart's "Mezzos": A Comparative Study Between Castrato and Female Roles in Mozart's Operas" (2019). UNLV Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, and Capstones. 3604.
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