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Contents

Music In The Seventeenth And Eighteenth Centuries

THE FORTUNES OF ARTASERSE

Chapter:
CHAPTER 4 Class and Classicism
Source:
MUSIC IN THE SEVENTEENTH AND EIGHTEENTH CENTURIES
Author(s):
Richard Taruskin

Because there is so much material to choose from, the ubiquitous Artaserse, in its various early settings, makes an ideal introduction to the music of the opera seria. Metastasio’s own plot synopsis or argomento was published in all of the opera’s printed libretti—the “little books” that were sold to the audience so that they could follow the text if they wished, including the lines of recitative that had been cut by the composer. The story, attributed to the third-century Roman historian Justin (Marcus Junianus Justinus), reads as follows:

Artabanus, chief officer to Xerxes, King of Persia, seeing the power of the king diminish daily because of his losses to the Greeks, hopes to sacrifice to his own ambition the whole royal family, along with the abovementioned Xerxes, and ascend the Persian throne. Therefore, taking advantage of the ease of access to which his intimate friendship with his master entitled him, he gained entry to Xerxes’ palace at night and killed him. Then, to dispose of the royal princes, Xerxes’ sons, he sets them one against the other, causing Artaxerxes, one of the abovementioned sons, to kill his own brother Darius, believing him to be a parricide upon Artabanus’s insinuation. The only thing the traitor fails to accomplish according to plan is the death of Artaxerxes. Through various accidents (which supply the episodes that adorn the present drama), in the end his treason is exposed and the safety of Artaxerxes is assured, which exposure and assurance are the main action of the drama.8

Citation (MLA):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 4 Class and Classicism." The Oxford History of Western Music. Oxford University Press. New York, USA. n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2018. <http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume2/actrade-9780195384826-div1-04006.xml>.
Citation (APA):
Taruskin, R. (n.d.). Chapter 4 Class and Classicism. In Oxford University Press, Music In The Seventeenth And Eighteenth Centuries. New York, USA. Retrieved 25 Feb. 2018, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume2/actrade-9780195384826-div1-04006.xml
Citation (Chicago):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 4 Class and Classicism." In Music In The Seventeenth And Eighteenth Centuries, Oxford University Press. (New York, USA, n.d.). Retrieved 25 Feb. 2018, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume2/actrade-9780195384826-div1-04006.xml
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