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Part One: The Dramatic Function of Off-Stage Music in Bizet's Carmen Part Two: A Portfolio of Compositions

  • Author(s): Saxon, Katherine
  • Advisor(s): Feigin, Joel
  • et al.
Abstract

Part One:

Why does everyone love George Bizet's Carmen? What does Bizet do, both musically and dramatically, to make this timeless work of art so effective? In Part I of this dissertation, I focus an aspect of these questions, namely, what makes the final scene, Don José and Carmen's last duet, so powerful? How does Bizet create an atmosphere of utter despair? I believe the answer lies in part with Bizet's use of off-stage music.

In this dissertation, I explore the dramatic function of each off-stage musical instance in the opera. I also include analyses of other musical and dramatic passages that are either related to the off-stage passages, or to themes of space and distance. I conclude that Bizet's continuous use of off-stage music heightens the dramatic tension of each act and ultimately propels the drama toward the final scene. Thus, when Bizet uses off-stage music in the final scene, he is able to create eerie, disturbing on-stage silences that frame the tragic ending.

Part Two:

Part II of my dissertation is a portfolio of compositions. The majority of these works were presented during my Ph.D. recital on June 3, 2012. A Game was played by the UCSB symphony during their winter term concert in 2009. UCSB's Ensemble for Contemporary Music programmed Quilt I on a concert in late May 2012.

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