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Plot and Tonal Design as Compositional Constraints
in Il trovatore

Balthazar, Scott L.

For more than a decade, Il trovatore has served as a focus of scholarly
investigations into Verdi's treatment of tonal structure. To date, its tonal plan has been viewed primarily from three directions: 1) as a long-range prolongation of a cadential harmonic progression (Levarie); 2) as a system of tonal double cycles and short-range symmetries (Parker); or 3) as a network of associations between keys and characters (Baldini, Petrobelli, Drabkin). Balthazar suggests an alternative way in which Verdi used long range key relationships in Il trovatore to interpret and reinforce its plot structure By establishing separate constellations of keys for Azucena and Leonora and by moving within and between these constellations in specific ways, his music distinguishes independent plot lines, underscores their convergences, articulates shifts from one event to the next, and connects related events This analytic approach explains tonal relationships in Ii trovatore consistently and comprehensively, accounting for all primary keys. Moreover, by attending to parallels between key and plot, it connects tonal ordering to the text's principal source of dynamic cohesion, giving emphasis-as Verdi might have-to linear aspects of drama and the infusion of action into lyric numbers. Balthazar offers explanations of these phenomenons.

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Current Musicology

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Music
Published Here
December 24, 2014
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