intermezzo

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intermezzo (intermedio) (It.; Fr. intermède). In the middle. This word has undergone several changes in application, viz., (1) Originally, in 16th-cent. It., a mus. entertainment interpolated between sections of more serious fare, such as songs or madrigals, or between the acts of a play. Earliest recorded was at Florence 1539. In France, the intermèdes were sometimes on a sumptuous scale and sometimes comprised ballet only. Those by Lully for Molière's plays preceded or followed the comedy in addition to separating its acts and in some cases had nothing to do with the plot, e.g. the Ballet des Nations which concluded Le bourgeois gentilhomme (1670).(2) With the development of opera seria, based invariably on mythological legends, the intermezzo became popular because of its contrasted, more realistic, and topical, often comic, characters. At the beginning of the 18th cent., comic characters were admitted into opera seria in scenes near the end of an act, thus forming a separate plot, an intermezzo. Most popular of these intermezzi was Pergolesi's La serva padrona (The maid as mistress) (1733). From this form developed opera buffa.(3) By the 19th cent. the word had come to be applied in the same sense as interlude; and for a short orch. piece inserted into an opera to denote a lapse of time, as in Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana, or summarizing events as in the ‘Walk to the Paradise Garden’ in Delius's A Village Romeo and Juliet.(4) A short movt. in a sym., conc., or sonata, e.g. the slow movement of Schumann's pf. conc.(5) Short independent pf. pieces by Brahms, Schumann, etc.

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in·ter·mez·zo / ˌintərˈmetsō/ • n. (pl. -mez·zi / -ˈmetsē/ or -mez·zos ) a short connecting instrumental movement in an opera or other musical work. ∎  a similar piece performed independently. ∎  a short piece for a solo instrument. ∎  a light dramatic, musical, or other performance inserted between the acts of a play.

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intermezzobasso, El Paso, Picasso, Sargasso, Tasso •fatso, paparazzo, terrazzo •Brasso •espresso, gesso •intermezzo, mezzo •scherzo •peso, say-so •calypso, dipso •schizo • Mato Grosso • torso • also •amoroso, capriccioso, oloroso, so-so •Caruso, Robinson Crusoe, Rousseau, trousseau •so-and-so •Curaçao, curassow •Thurso, verso

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Intermezzo. ‘Bourgeois comedy with symphonic interludes’ in 2 acts by R. Strauss, comp. 1917–23 to his own lib. (based on a marital incident in his life, the two main characters being portraits of himself and his wife Pauline). Prod. Dresden 1924, Vienna 1927, NY (concert) 1963, Curtis Inst., Philadelphia (stage) 1977, Edinburgh 1965, Glyndebourne 1974.

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intermezzo Light theatrical entertainment performed to music between the acts of a drama or opera. The earliest intermezzi date from the late 15th century. The 18th-century intermezzi of operas were the basis for the development of opera buffa. Today, the term most commonly refers to an instrumental interlude during the course of an opera.

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intermezzo (mus.) piece intervening between two main parts of a composition. XIX. — It. — L. intermedius (see prec.).

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