Writer Jessica Duchen passes on the latest discovery by Dutch musicologist Pieter van der Oeugewalt, who came to the conclusion that Claudio Monteverdi invented the leitmotif. Van der Oeugewalt explains:
Studying his opera L’Incoronazione di Poppea of 1642-3, I became fascinated by the presence of a recurring figure, a simple pattern consisting of a falling fourth followed by a one-tone dip below and return to this note. A close examination of the libretto reveals that this theme – as simple, skeletal and strong as any motif by Wagner – is associated on every recurrence with Poppea’s greed and unstoppable ambition. Having checked and double-checked this association, I find it to be consistent and unfailingly so.
The discovery would be nothing short of monumental if it hadn’t been announced on April Fools’ Day.
Read more: Monteverdi invented the “leitmotif” (Jessica Duchen Classical Music Blog)
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