The principle of the Eternal-Feminine in Rossini's l'Italiana in Algeri: Isabella as the Italian super-woman

Sara Zamir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The term Eternal-Feminine, or Das Ewig-Weibliche, first appeared in the last verses of the second part of Goethe's Faust (completed 1832). It, subsequently, became the subject of speculation and a riddle which scholars have been trying to solve ever since. The term gradually came to represent a cultural principle regarding the image of femininity and it reached its Romantic apex, in the 19th Century, when various female archetypes were fused into a singe heroine. The present article aims to explore Isabella's character in Rossini's L'Italiana in Algeri in the light of the principle of the Eternal-Feminine. Although Goethe was still in the process of writing the second part of Faust when L'Italiana premiered (1813) in Italy, the cultural principle of the Eternal-Feminine can be used retrospectively in the analysis of Isabella as the central female protagonist of the opera. A thorough reading of her character suggests an aesthetic approach that makes use of certain Romantic aspects of the Eternal-Feminine principle. The present article focuses specifically on the Cruda sorte! Amor tiranno! scene and briefly refers to other scenes as well.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-180
Number of pages16
JournalAnuario Musical
Volume66
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011

Keywords

  • Culture-related analysis
  • Eternal-Feminine
  • Italian history
  • L'Italiana in Algeri
  • Orientalism
  • Risorgimento
  • Rossini

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