Scenen aus Goethes Faust: A performer's analysis. Page: 5
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Instead, he uses a declamatory melodic style that combines elements of accompanied recitative,
secco recitative and recitative arioso vocal style.
The popular notion of melody, Schumann argues, has been conditioned for the
public's love of Italian opera. But what passes for melody among the Italians is in
fact little more than "running passages, scraps of sung melodies, singly selected
notes (easily sung, perhaps pleasing) for isolated words. A true melodic style will
unite profundity and facility, significance and grace. There is more melody in the
first two chords of the Eroica ...than in ten melodies of Bellini.8
In the popular bel canto style of opera the focus was often on the pyrotechnics of the vocal
soloist, often reducing the orchestra to the role of mere accompaniment. "But there are melodies
of a different sort [from those praised by dilettantes], and if you turn to Bach, Mozart, and
Beethoven, you will see them in a thousand different guises; hopefully you will soon tire of the
impoverished monotony of the latest Italian opera melodies."9 Schumann was proud of his
heritage and wanted to continue the tradition of Weber and Mozart composing German
nationalistic operas. Schumann stated in the Neue Zeitschriftfir Musik "[that he wanted to]
compose truly original, simple, deep German operas."10
Schumann's flexible style in setting Goethe's text blends passages of lyrical melodies
with sections of recitative that follow as closely as possible to the rhythm of ordinary speech.
The declamatory style of text delivery also allows the action of the drama to move forward
without interruption. An example of this declamatory text setting is Faust's first vocal line "Du
kanntest mich, O kleiner Engel wieder?" Schumann accentuates strong syllables in this passage
by placing them on stronger beats and by using notes of longer durations. His melodic setting
emphasizes the first syllable in the word "kanntest" as well as the first syllable in the word
"Engel" corresponding to the stress of spoken German pronunciation. In order to facilitate the
delivery of multiple syllables of text in rapid succession, he uses one pitch and flexible rhythmic
patterns for lines of text such as "mich, O kleiner Engel" as in measures 6 and 7 (see Figure 1).
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Paoletti Jr., Karl. Scenen aus Goethes Faust: A performer's analysis., dissertation, August 2008; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc9053/m1/11/: accessed January 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .