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date: 03 June 2020

Tempo di mezzo (It.: ‘middle movement’)locked

  • Julian Budden

Extract

(It.: ‘middle movement’)

In Italian opera of the 19th century, a fast transitional passage that separates a cantabile from a cabaletta or a pezzo concertato from a stretta. It is generally free in form and varies in length according to the dramatic situation, its prime function being to effect the required change of mood. In an aria this may involve the entrance and departure of a secondary character, e.g. Foresto in the case of Ezio’s ‘Dagli immortali vertici’ (Attila, Verdi, 1846), whose news of an ambush causes the Roman general to break out in exultation. In the duet ‘Il pallor funesto orrendo’ (Lucia di Lammermoor, Donizetti, 1835) the tempo di mezzo consists mainly of a flourish of offstage horns announcing the arrival of Arturo, whose marriage to Lucia will save her brother from financial ruin. The tempo di mezzo of a central finale is often very complex and may contain a reprise of ...

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