Anna De Lagrange initiated a significant move in opera as she, instead of singing the cavatina composed for the character she played in Mercadante’s Il bravo, performed an aria that was written by a different composer and was composed for a different opera. De Lagrange was able to attain the applause of her spectators because she merely carried out a tradition that subsisted during the period between the seventeenth century and the later half of the nineteenth century. What she performed is called an “aria insertion”—a tradition that allowed opera singers to incorporate their own arias during opera productions for substitution or interpolation purposes. These are also referred to as arie di baule or “trunk arias” because of whatever awkward luggage—in this case, musical scores of their favorite aria—that the singer carries on stage.
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