The Tragic Seascape : 'Sapho' and its Twelve-note Chord. / Charlton, David.

In: Jahrbuch für Opernforschung, Vol. 1, 1985, p. 46-72.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle



This is a primarily musical study and comparison of three extended operatic sequences produced during the French Revolution in which the life-threatening power of storms at sea were worked into the narrative and put on stage: Kreutzer's 'Paul et Virginie' (1791), Méhul's 'Mélidore et Phrosine' (1794) and J. P. E. Martini's 'Sapho' (1794). Orchestral and harmonic power were on particular display, especially in the twelve-note chord written by Martini to express the moment of Sapho's suicide by jumpng from the rock of Leucade. It is mirrored by a ten-note chord in the overture. Méhul's unpublished reaction to this twelve-note chord is reproduced (MS in private possession at the time of writing).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-72
Number of pages27
JournalJahrbuch für Opernforschung
Publication statusPublished - 1985

ID: 31011363