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Transposition in Jonathan Larson's Rent

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Abstract:

In composing La Bohéme, based on the novel Scénes de la vie Bohéme/Bohemians of the Latin Quarter by Henry Murger, Giacomo Puccini used musical themes symbolic of characters, emotions and settings. Jonathan Larson also based Rent on Murger's novel, and the characters, plot and themes of both the opera and musical are close to identical. Larson signposted a clear motivic connection to La Bohéme within Rent and this led to the development of my hypotheses: that Larson transposed a number of Puccini's themes into Rent; that he was aware of their symbolism; that the 'Musetta's Waltz' transposition was the most important transposition from La Bohéme to Rent; and that the transpositions applied to the 'Musetta's Waltz' theme throughout Rent were the most dramatically significant. This study compares the scores and musical themes of both works in an attempt to establish Larson's intention behind the transpositions.

Keywords: 'Light My Candle'; Giacomo Puccini; Jonathan Larson; La Bohéme; Musetta's Waltz; Rent

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/smt.5.3.225_1

Affiliations: Australian Catholic University

Publication date: January 20, 2012

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  • Studies in Musical Theatre is a refereed journal which considers areas of live performance that use vocal and instrumental music in conjunction with theatrical performance as a principal part of their expressive language.
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