Alternative bars

The attached is from the vocal score of an opera buffa which has already had its first tour. It shows the end of a long and virtuoso patter duet, and it became evident that some audiences wanted to applaud at the end of it. I was asked to provide an optional fermata so that this could be accommodated if decided upon in advance by the MD.
However, I’m not happy with my attempt at fulfilling the request. What I did was to halve the duration of the first note after the double bar so that I could put a fermata on the semiquaver rest, but I’m not sure it’s the best way of doing it. Of course, this would never be sightread, but it still looks sub-optimal to my eyes.
In any case, I thought a downbeat would be useful if the pause were to be implemented, rather than picking up at the end of the applause with the first of the slurred phrases. This made me think that I should provide two sections of music, one bar for straight-through and two bars (with its downbeat notated) for pausing. They would be marked in the fashion of 1st and 2nd time bars, but with suitably descriptive text, e.g. ‘for pause’ and ‘for continuation’ (or something). But would that solution be any clearer? Any thoughts?
ending with optional fermata

My first thought was to keep the first chord as an eighth note and put the optional fermata over a caesura, but your way may be clearer.

I have to think that whatever your choice, this would have to be something the conductor has the players pencil in; so the question is what makes the most sense and least interruption in the (published?) score.

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I agree with Derrek. With the pause, a conductor would give a new downbeat to restart the music.

Putting these ideas together how about an optional caesura for the pause?


I’ve moved the second note of the bar to the right:

and created a new playing technique added to to the right and left hands on the first beat of the bar and shifted right and down in Engrave Mode. The caesura symbol does not show up in the SMuFL list that I can see, but is found under Unicode. Offsets are needed for good spacing.

Here’s the file in Dorico 4:
Optional caesura.dorico (513.5 KB)

With my conductor’s hat on I like this solution rather than a fermata.


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I like this a lot. Thanks for the idea and the workings, Chris. It looks ideal!