Taking comedy seriously: The comedic interpretion and performance of operatic repertoire

Date of Completion

January 1999






This study explores the topic of comedic interpretation for the singer-actor in the performance of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Italian comic opera. This research surveys the nature of comedy as a dramatic form, describes the comic perspective, and identifies the principles of comedy. It also surveys the backgrounds and traditions of comedy and those influences upon the conventions, and musical style of comic opera. Operatic excerpts of selected Italian opera composers are analyzed to examine how composers used music to accent the comedic aspects of scene and character. A discussion of the aspects of the singer-actor's performing technique including focus and facial mimicry, gesture and physical action are examined in addition to skills and technical aspects specifically required for performing comedy. Through the integration of research on the backgrounds and traditions of comedy, musical style, and performing technique, this study intends to encourage the singer-actor or director to take comedy more seriously and increase the comedic value of scene or opera to enrich and bring vitality to performance. ^