Rage aria

A rage aria is an operatic aria expressing the rage of the character performing it.

Normally in da capo form, such arias emerged during the Baroque period and are typically found in opera seria.[1] Rage arias were known by various terms in Italian, including aria di strepito, aria agitata and aria infuriata.[2] Typically they display the musical characteristics of quick tempos and fast runs, and are short in length.[3] Such arias have been written by, amongst other composers, George Frideric Handel in the Baroque period and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the Classical period.


According to the doctrine of the affections, a theory of aesthetics that dictates emotions based on outward visible and auditory signs, each aria in an opera must have a single emotion. The doctrine of affects states that the emotions of rage, revenge, and fury lend themselves to complex musical gestures more easily than gentle affects.[4] Rage arias were amongst various types of aria which were employed in 18th century opera, including the more restrained aria di sentimento, the aria di lamento (lament), and the showy aria di bravura.[2] One of the best-known examples of the genre is the Queen of the Night's "Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen", from Die Zauberflöte.[5] Others include "No, no, I'll take no less", from Handel's Semele, "I am the wife of Mao Tse-Tung" from John Adams' Nixon in China, "D'Oreste, d'Ajace" in Mozart's Idomeneo.[6]


  1. ^ Hunter, Mary (1999). The Culture of Opera Buffa in Mozart's Vienna. Princeton: Princeton University Press. pp. 137–146. ISBN 0-691-05812-1.
  2. ^ a b H. Rosenthal and John Warrack (1972), The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Opera, London: Oxford University Press, p. 16.
  3. ^ Grout, Donald Jay (1965). A Short History of Opera second edition. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 182–188, 159. ISBN 0-231-02422-3.
  4. ^ Mattheson, Johann, and Hans Lenneberg. "Johann Mattheson on Affect and Rhetoric in Music (I)." Journal of Music Theory, vol. 2, no. 1, 1958, pp. 47–84. JSTOR 842930 Retrieved 5 December 2017 (subscription required)
  5. ^ "Teacher Resources for The Magic Flute". Lyric Opera of Chicago. Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  6. ^ Simeonov, Jenna. "4 awesome rage arias that aren't the Queen of the Night". Schmopera.com. Retrieved 22 December 2018.

Further reading

  • Brown-Montesano, Kristi (2007). Understanding the Women of Mozart's Operas. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520932968., pp. 13ff on "(Un)Feminine Rage and Retribution" for Donna Anna (Don Giovanni)
  • Michael Cherlin; Halina Filipowicz; Richard L. Rudolph, eds. (2003). "Table 12.1 Rage Arias in Mozart's Operas". The Great Tradition and Its Legacy: The Evolution of Dramatic and Musical Theater in Austria and Central Europe. Berghahn Books. pp. 183ff. ISBN 9781571814036.

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