How to Analyse Opera and its Inherent Emotions, with Examples Taken from Handel’s Giulio Cesare
Although dramaturgy has been the focus of study in historical musicology, analysis of opera has received scarce attention, with music analysis mostly devoted to instrumental music. Moreover, recent studies have highlighted the role of performance in opposition to that of the score. The main aim of the present article is to propose a specific analytical method for opera, based on the convergence of three analytical parameters: analysis of the score, of the singers’ voices and of their gestures. We considered as an example Giulio Cesare by Handel, and particularly three emotional aspects of its arias: love, fury and sorrow. We initially analysed structural features in the score (metre, rhythm, tonal, harmonic and melodic aspects) which proved to be different in love, fury and sorrow contexts. The second analysis concerned elements of vocal performance (tempo, legato, accents, vibrato) and their statistical presence. The third analysis focused on the body of the interpreters: energy and frequency of gestures, and facial expressions. The study revealed a considerable degree of coherence between the various aspects, with particular attention to the empathic link between singers and audience.