Capriccio, By Richard Strauss and Clemens Krauss: Theoretical Discussion as Theatrical Presentation, Together with Three Recitals of Selected Works of Strauss, Wagner, Verdi, Mozart, Britten, and Prokofiev
Description: In Capriccio. Richard Strauss and Clemens Krauss examine the very nature of opera with the core of their thesis being the relationship of words and music. A work that is, in essence, an extended discussion poses two problems to the composer and librettist: how to sustain the argument of the thesis without losing the attention of the audience, and how to prevent a conversational opera from sounding like endless recitative. Strauss and Krauss manage to present their case without having to resort to an actual discussion for the duration of the opera. Their characters are engaging, identifiable human beings who are also allegorical figures. Their participation in the stage action sustains the argument of the thesis even when the dialogue itself addresses other subjects. The players symbolize various facets of opera, theatre, and the public with all of them, principal and secondary characters, being sharply etched. The little stage action that Capriccio does contain is carefully paced and closely coordinated with the presentation of the work's thesis. The octets, similar in dramatic function to the central finale of a Mozart opera buffa, provide the climax of the stage action and come soon after the Fugal Debate, the centerpiece of the collaborators' argument. The final section of the central scene, which also contains the aforementioned octets and Fugal Debate, serves as the denouement of both the plot and thesis. Such close attention to dramatic structure gives Capriccio and the argument it presents cohesion and dramatic shape. The text itself is written in clear, concise prose and is set in Strauss's patented "conversational style." This style, a rapid syllabic declamation, is delivered "mezza voce" in order to simulate natural speech and is sung over continuous melos in the orchestra. This accompaniment keeps it from sounding like dry recitative. This study explores the ...
Date: August 1986
Creator: Saunders, David Harold