This is a very short post, which is kind of a follow-up on my previous post about the transformation, or if you feel attracted to neo-Riemannian transformations.
Going to the opera is decidedly inspiring. I was yesterday at the Opera Bastille in Paris for a representation of Rusalka, in the wonderful staging of Robert Carsen, and, again, transformation came quite unexpectedly.
It appears in fact twice in this opera. The first time happens during the first act, when Rusalka says to Jezibaba “Your widsom surmises all”. Here it is, at 36:33, and you get to see the staging of Robert Carsen:
The second time happens in the third act, when the Prince says he will die happily with Rusalka. Here it is at 2:23:50:
It is undeniable that these two events are linked by this particular transformation. The death of the Prince could be seen as the result of the decision between Jezibaba and Rusalka. It could even be that, since Jezibaba’s wisdom surmises all, she already knew what was coming. The fact that Jezibaba is a witch, and that the transformation is a transposition by a tritone (the devil’s interval), is also relevant, I think.
Still, I’m curious about the use of this transformation in the music of the XIXth-XXth century. Are there other occurences in other operas ? Is it frequent ? Anyone with more experience willing to share some knowledge about it is welcome here….
Edit (April, 9th, 2015)
Today, a colleague informed me of a new occurence of the transposition in the overture of Strauss’ “Die ägyptische Helena”. But this time, it occurs between minor chords (namely a C minor and a F sharp minor chord), just like in the Ark theme of Indiana Jones. Here it is, right at the beginning: