This introductory chapter presents the scope and value of recognition as an approach to Mozart's operas. The terms recognition and reversal (Aristotle's anagnôrisis and peripeteia) are defined, and the larger implications of recognition as a function of both plot and theme are explored. A section devoted to the opera-as-drama problem suggests that recognition offers a new perspective on some of the particular difficulties inherent in the study of opera. To illustrate the special status of recognition scenes as problem moments, a final section is devoted to the scene in Le nozze di Figaro in which Figaro is discovered to be the long-lost son of Bartolo and Marcellina, a moment that rather obviously combines Aristotle's paradigmatic examples of strong and weak recognitions into one highly implausible scenario.
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