By the last quarter of the eighteenth century, the typical Metastasian two-stanza aria text could be set to music in one of two ways: in the ternary form typical of the earlier da capo aria (stanzas 1–2–1) or in a binary one (stanzas 1–2–1–2). Why did Mozart choose one form over the other in Idomeneo (1781); what does this tell us about the role of his librettist, Giovanni Battista Varesco, both before and after the composer left Salzburg for Munich to finish composing the opera and to prepare its performance; and how might these issues enable some rational inquiry into questions of music and drama?
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