Susanna's 'Deh vieni'

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Paul Sherrill

Abstract

This article offers an analysis of “Deh vieni non tardar,” Susanna’s last aria in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. The aria stages a diegetic performance in which Susanna serenades an absent beloved while Figaro eavesdrops, but the aria is not simply a facsimile of Susanna’s performance. Instead, the music scripts a shift of the audience’s perspective, moving from a quasi-literal representation of the performance to a depiction of Susanna’s affective experience of performing. This shift in perspective realigns how different musical parameters collaborate to produce meaning.

Observations from disparate domains coalesce into an interpretation of the aria. The analysis engages with musical details by starting from hypotheses about what the piece is (serenade or psychologizing aria), what it does (deliver text or embody expressive action), and how its musical features afford those identities. The central analytical questions are what genre “Deh vieni” belongs to and how its features serve the functions of that genre.

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