Among Rossini's operas Adina has perhaps the most mysterious origins. Commissioned by an unknown Portuguese admirer as a gift for an unknown soprano, composed in 1818 yet not performed until 1826, the opera develops the popular theme of the "abduction from the serraglio." Rossini, pressed by the contract to complete the work quickly, composed anew only four of the work's nine numbers: the Introduction, the disarming Cavatina Adina "Fragolette fortunate" (Lucky little strawberries), the Quartet, and the Finale; for three others he turned to his own Sigismondo of 1814; the remaining two were written by a collaborator.
The critical edition, the first publication in full score, draws on the autograph of Sigismondo and Rossini's drafts for setting the new texts as well as the autograph of Adina. In his preface discussing Adina's uncertain genesis and successive history, Fabrizio Della Seta examines the documents extant in Portugal and Italy and considers hypotheses about the identity of the commissioner, the dedicatee, and the collaborator.
During the last decade of his life Rossini wrote numerous vocal and instrumental pieces which, with his usual irony, he entitled Pèchés de vieillesse. He then organized them in various albums that reflect neither the date of composition (very often not indicated) nor the performing medium. Two of these collections are published in the present volume: Album français and Morceaux réservés. For the most part they consist of pieces intended for performance in the composer's drawing room by one or more solo voices with piano accompaniment, but there are also choral movements. Some items have never heretofore unknown versions which are issued here for the first time.
Alzira is the seventh work and the sixth opera to be published in the critical edition of The Works of Giuseppe Verdi. Composed during the middle of the very productive period of Verdi's first large-scale successes, Alzira premiered at Naples on August 12, 1845. Cammarano's libretto is based on a play of Voltaire, who used a real incident in sixteenth-century Peru during the Spanish conquest to shape a critique of the morality of the noble savage as against Christian values. The inherent conflicts and exotic setting appealed to Verdi's dramatic sense, and in its best moments the music of Alzira fully realizes his potential as a masterful composer for the theater.
Because the success of the premiere was not repeated, Alzira fell out of the repertory and no orchestral score was ever published. The critical edition, based on Verdi's autograph score and important secondary sources, provides the first reliable full score of the work. It is complemented by an introduction tracing the opera's genesis, sources and performance history and practices. Together with the detailed critical commentary, discussing problems and ambiguities in the sources, the edition provides scholars and performers alike with unequalled means for interpretation and study of this poorly known work.
Elise K. Kirk University of Illinois Press, 2001 Library of Congress ML1711.K56 2001 | Dewey Decimal 782.10973
Tired of Tannhäuser? Bored with Bohème? Open your imagination to boundless creativity and wide-ranging repertory of American opera. Elise K. Kirk provides a treasure trove of information that fills in the long-neglected history of opera in the United States. Looking at more than 100 works, Kirk sketches the musical traits, provides plot summaries, describes sets and stagings, and offers in-depth profiles of performers, composers, and librettists.
Beginning with the English-influenced harle-quinade of the revolutionary period, Kirk follows the development of comic opera, the rise of melodramatic romanticism, the emergence of American grand opera and verismo, and the explosion of eclectic forms that characterized American opera in the twentieth century. Devoting particular attention to women and African American composers and librettists, Kirk explores how American operas incorporated indigenous elements such as jazz, popular song, folk music, Native American motifs, and Hollywood's cinematic techniques. She also discusses radio and television's impact, the advent of opera workshops in universities, the integration of multimedia effects into productions, and the ways innovations such as co-commissioning and joint staging have helped sustain the genre in the face of declining federal support.
Angela Gheorghiu is one of the most passionate and talented artists working in opera today, a larger-than-life figure whose intensity and drive, on stage and off, have commanded the attention of the opera world. Largely composed of exclusive interviews with the artist, this authorized biography of the internationally acclaimed soprano, covers Gheorghiu’s life and career from her childhood in Communist Romania to her spectacular Covent Garden debut in 1992 and up to the present day. In it, Gheorghiu shares new insights into the performance of many of her iconic stage roles and her collaborations with opera’s leading lights. Also featured are commentaries and reminiscences by such celebrated figures in the music and art worlds as Grace Bumbry, José Carreras, Plácido Domingo, Marilyn Horne, Bryn Terfel, and Franco Zeffirelli.
Many know Antonio Salieri only as Mozart's envious nemesis from the film Amadeus. In this well-illustrated work, John A. Rice shows us what a rich musical and personal history this popular stereotype has missed.
Bringing Salieri, his operas, and eighteenth-century Viennese theater vividly to life, Rice places Salieri where he belongs: no longer lurking in Mozart's shadow, but standing proudly among the leading opera composers of his age. Rice's research in the archives of Vienna and close study of his scores reveal Salieri to have been a prolific, versatile, and adventurous composer for the stage. Within the extraordinary variety of Salieri's approaches to musical dramaturgy, Rice identifies certain habits of orchestration, melodic style, and form as distinctively "Salierian"; others are typical of Viennese opera in general. A generous selection of excerpts from Salieri's works, most previously unpublished, will give readers a fuller appreciation for his musical style—and its influence on Mozart—than was previously possible.
Verdi’s Attila, his ninth opera, had its premiere at Venice’s Teatro La Fenice in March 1846. Based on the German play Attila, King of the Huns, the libretto has its own storied history: as Verdi fell seriously ill before the work’s completion, the main librettist moved permanently to Madrid, leaving the last act of Attila only a sketch. It was then that Verdi called upon Francesco Maria Piave, the librettist for two of his earlier works, who at the composer’s behest scratched plans for a large choral finale and decided instead to concentrate on the dramatic roles of the protagonists.
In years since, Attila has become one of Verdi’s most popular and oft-staged early works. The composer's inimitable vitality, soaring arcs of melody, grand choruses, and passion are here amply apparent. This critical edition, based on Verdi’s autograph full score preserved at the British Library, restores the opera’s original text and accurately reflects the composer's colorful and elaborate musical setting, while Helen M. Greenwald’s masterful introduction discusses the opera’s origins, sources, and performance questions, and her critical commentary details editorial problems and their solutions.
On July 14, 1789, a crowd of angry French citizens en route to the Bastille broke into the Paris Opera and helped themselves to any sturdy weapon they could find. Yet despite its long association with the royal court, its special privileges, and the splendor of its performances, the Opera itself was spared, even protected, by Revolutionary officials. Victoria Johnson’s Backstage at the Revolution tells the story of how this legendary opera house, despite being a lightning rod for charges of tyranny and waste, weathered the most dramatic political upheaval in European history.
Sifting through royal edicts, private letters, and Revolutionary records of all kinds, Johnson uncovers the roots of the Opera’s survival in its identity as a uniquely privileged icon of French culture—an identity established by the conditions of its founding one hundred years earlier under Louis XIV. Johnson’s rich cultural history moves between both epochs, taking readers backstage to see how a motley crew of singers, dancers, royal ministers, poet entrepreneurs, shady managers, and the king of France all played a part in the creation and preservation of one of the world’s most fabled cultural institutions.
In 1819, a watershed year in the Milanese debates between "classicism" and "romanticism," Rossini prepared Bianca e Falliero, o sia Il consiglio dei Tre (Bianca and Falliero, or The Council of Three) for La Scala, where his opere serie had never fared well. Working with a confirmed "classicist" librettist, he created a traditionally structured bel canto tour-de-force that ran for thirty-nine performances—still a record for his serious operas at La Scala.
Heavily butchered in later productions, Bianca e Falliero soon disappeared from the stage, but its finest pieces remained in concert repertory for half a century. The critical edition—the first publication of the full score—restores the original Milan version. An appendix offers Rossini's vocal variants for the two lead roles.
From classic films like Carmen Jones to contemporary works like The Diary of Sally Hemings and U-Carmen eKhayelitsa, American and South African artists and composers have used opera to reclaim black people's place in history. Naomi André draws on the experiences of performers and audiences to explore this music's resonance with today's listeners. Interacting with creators and performers, as well as with the works themselves, André reveals how black opera unearths suppressed truths. These truths provoke complex, if uncomfortable, reconsideration of racial, gender, sexual, and other oppressive ideologies. Opera, in turn, operates as a cultural and political force that employs an immense, transformative power to represent or even liberate. Viewing opera as a fertile site for critical inquiry, political activism, and social change, Black Opera lays the foundation for innovative new approaches to applied scholarship.
Blackness in Opera
Edited by Naomi André, Karen M. Bryan, and Eric Saylor University of Illinois Press, 2012 Library of Congress ML1700.B53 2012 | Dewey Decimal 782.108996
Blackness in Opera critically examines the intersections of race and music in the multifaceted genre of opera. A diverse cross-section of scholars places well-known operas (Porgy and Bess, Aida, Treemonisha) alongside lesser-known works such as Frederick Delius's Koanga, William Grant Still's Blue Steel, and Clarence Cameron White's Ouanga! to reveal a new historical context for re-imagining race and blackness in opera. The volume brings a wide-ranging, theoretically informed, interdisciplinary approach to questions about how blackness has been represented in these operas, issues surrounding characterization of blacks, interpretation of racialized roles by blacks and whites, controversies over race in the theatre and the use of blackface, and extensions of blackness along the spectrum from grand opera to musical theatre and film. In addition to essays by scholars, the book also features reflections by renowned American tenor George Shirley.
Contributors are Naomi André, Melinda Boyd, Gwynne Kuhner Brown, Karen M. Bryan, Melissa J. de Graaf, Christopher R. Gauthier, Jennifer McFarlane-Harris, Gayle Murchison, Guthrie P. Ramsey Jr., Eric Saylor, Sarah Schmalenberger, Ann Sears, George Shirley, and Jonathan O. Wipplinger.
Irving Lowens Award, Society for American Music (SAM), 2019
Music in American Culture Award, American Musicological Society (AMS), 2018
Certificate of Merit for Best Historical Research in Recorded Country, Folk, Roots, or World Music, Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC), 2018
Outstanding Achievement in Humanities and Cultural Studies: Media, Visual, and Performance Studies, Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS), 2019
The Chinatown opera house provided Chinese immigrants with an essential source of entertainment during the pre–World War II era. But its stories of loyalty, obligation, passion, and duty also attracted diverse patrons into Chinese American communities
Drawing on a wealth of new Chinese- and English-language research, Nancy Yunhwa Rao tells the story of iconic theater companies and the networks and migrations that made Chinese opera a part of North American cultures. Rao unmasks a backstage world of performers, performance, and repertoire and sets readers in the spellbound audiences beyond the footlights. But she also braids a captivating and complex history from elements outside the opera house walls: the impact of government immigration policy; how a theater influenced a Chinatown's sense of cultural self; the dissemination of Chinese opera music via recording and print materials; and the role of Chinese American business in sustaining theatrical institutions. The result is a work that strips the veneer of exoticism from Chinese opera, placing it firmly within the bounds of American music and a profoundly American experience.
Lyric theater in ancien régime France was an eminently political art, tied to the demands of court spectacle. This was true not only of tragic opera (tragédie lyrique) but also its comic counterpart, opéra comique, a form tracing its roots to the seasonal trade fairs of Paris. While historians have long privileged the genre’s popular origins, opéra comique was brought under the protection of the French crown in 1762, thus consolidating a new venue where national music might be debated and defined.
In The Comedians of the King, Julia Doe traces the impact of Bourbon patronage on the development of opéra comique in the turbulent prerevolutionary years. Drawing on both musical and archival evidence, the book presents the history of this understudied genre and unpacks the material structures that supported its rapid evolution at the royally sponsored Comédie-Italienne. Doe demonstrates how comic theater was exploited in, and worked against, the monarchy’s carefully cultivated public image—a negotiation that became especially fraught after the accession of the music-loving queen, Marie Antoinette. The Comedians of the King examines the aesthetic and political tensions that arose when a genre with popular foundations was folded into the Bourbon propaganda machine, and when a group of actors trained at the Parisian fairs became official representatives of the sovereign, or comédiens ordinaires du roi.
In this book, Muir explores an era of cultural innovation that promoted free inquiry in the face of philosophical and theological orthodoxy, advocated libertine morals, critiqued the tyranny of aristocratic fathers over their daughters, and expanded the theatrical potential of grand opera. In so doing, he reveals the distinguished past of today's culture wars, including debates about the place of women in society, the clash between science and faith, and the power of the arts to stir emotions.
Werner Schroeter was a leading figure of New German Cinema. In more than forty films made between 1967 and 2008, including features, documentaries, and shorts, he ignored conventional narrative, creating instead dense, evocative collages of image and sound. For years, his work was eclipsed by contemporaries such as Wim Wenders, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, and Alexander Kluge. Yet his work has become known to a wider audience through several recent retrospectives, including at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Written in the last years of his life, Days of Twilight, Nights of Frenzy sees Schroeter looking back at his life with the help of film critic and friend Claudia Lenssen. Born in 1945, Schroeter grew up near Heidelberg and spent just a few weeks in film school before leaving to create his earliest works. Over the years, he would work with acclaimed artists, including Marianne Hopps, Isabelle Huppert, Candy Darling, and Christine Kaufmann. In the 1970s, Schroeter also embarked on prolific parallel careers in theater and opera, where he worked in close collaboration with the legendary diva Maria Callas. His childhood; his travels in Italy, France, and Latin America; his coming out and subsequent life as an gay man in Europe; and his run-ins with Hollywood are but a few of the subjects Schroeter recalls with insights and characteristic understated humor.
A sharp, lively, even funny memoir, Days of Twilight, Nights of Frenzy captures Schroeter’s extravagant life vividly over a vast prolific career, including many stories that might have been lost were it not for this book. It is sure to fascinate cinephiles and anyone interested in the culture around film and the arts.
Winner of the 2007 Otto Kinkeldey Award from the American Musicological Society and the 2007 Deems Taylor Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers.
Divas and Scholars is a dazzling and beguiling account of how opera comes to the stage, filled with Philip Gossett’s personal experiences of triumphant—and even failed—performances and suffused with his towering and tonic passion for music. Writing as a fan, a musician, and a scholar, Gossett, the world's leading authority on the performance of Italian opera, brings colorfully to life the problems, and occasionally the scandals, that attend the production of some of our most favorite operas.
Gossett begins by tracing the social history of nineteenth-century Italian theaters in order to explain the nature of the musical scores from which performers have long worked. He then illuminates the often hidden but crucial negotiations opera scholars and opera conductors and performers: What does it mean to talk about performing from a critical edition? How does one determine what music to perform when multiple versions of an opera exist? What are the implications of omitting passages from an opera in a performance? In addition to vexing questions such as these, Gossett also tackles issues of ornamentation and transposition in vocal style, the matters of translation and adaptation, and even aspects of stage direction and set design.
Throughout this extensive and passionate work, Gossett enlivens his history with reports from his own experiences with major opera companies at venues ranging from the Metropolitan and Santa Fe operas to the Rossini Opera Festival at Pesaro. The result is a book that will enthrall both aficionados of Italian opera and newcomers seeking a reliable introduction to it—in all its incomparable grandeur and timeless allure.
“Don Giovanni” Captured considers the life of a single opera, engaging with the entire history of its recorded performance.
Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni has long inspired myths about eros and masculinity. Over time, its performance history has revealed a growing trend toward critique—an increasing effort on the part of performers and directors to highlight the violence and predatoriness of the libertine central character, alongside the suffering and resilience of his female victims.
In “Don Giovanni” Captured, Richard Will sets out to analyze more than a century’s worth of recorded performances of the opera, tracing the ways it has changed from one performance to another and from one generation to the next. Will consults both audio recordings, starting with wax cylinders and 78s, as well as video recordings, including DVDs, films, and streaming videos. Seen as a historical record, opera recordings are a potent reminder of the refusal of works such as Don Giovanni to sit still. As Will points out, recordings and other media shape our experience of opera as much as live performance. By choosing a work with such a rich and complex tradition of interpretation, Will helps us see Don Giovanni as a standard-bearer for evolving ideas about desire and power, both on and off the stage.
Feasting and Fasting in Operashows that the consumption of food and drink is an essential component of opera, both on and off stage.
In this book, opera scholar Pierpaolo Polzonetti explores how convivial culture shaped the birth of opera and opera-going rituals until the mid-nineteenth century, when eating and drinking at the opera house were still common. Through analyses of convivial scenes in operas, the book also shows how the consumption of food and drink, and sharing or the refusal to do so, define characters’ identity and relationships.
Feasting and Fasting in Opera moves chronologically from around 1480 to the middle of the nineteenth century, when Wagner’s operatic reforms banished refreshments during the performance and mandated a darkened auditorium and absorbed listening. The book focuses on questions of comedy, pleasure, embodiment, and indulgence—looking at fasting, poisoning, food disorders, body types, diet, and social, ethnic, and gender identities—in both tragic and comic operas from Monteverdi to Puccini. Polzonetti also sheds new light on the diet Maria Callas underwent in preparation for her famous performance as Violetta, the consumptive heroine of Verdi’s La traviata. Neither food lovers nor opera scholars will want to miss Polzonetti’s page-turning and imaginative book.
In 1764 the first printing press was established in the French Caribbean colonies, launching the official documentation of operas and plays performed there, and marking the inauguration of the first theatre in the colonies. A rigorous study of pre–French Revolution performance practices in Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), Powers’s book examines the elaborate system of social casting in these colonies; the environments in which nonwhite artists emerged; and both negative and positive contributions of the Catholic Church and the military to operas and concerts produced in the colonies. The author also explores the level of participation of nonwhites in these productions, as well as theatre architecture, décor, repertoire, seating arrangements, and types of audiences. The status of nonwhite artists in colonial society; the range of operas in which they performed; their accomplishments, praise, criticism; and the use of créole texts and white actors/singers à visage noirs (with blackened faces) present a clear picture of French operatic culture in these colonies. Approaching the French Revolution, the study concludes with an examination of the ways in which colonial opera was affected by slave uprisings, the French Revolution, the emergence of “patriotic theatres,” and their role in fostering support for the king, as well as the impact on subsequent operas produced in the colonies and in the United States.
Without scenery, costumes, and stage action, an opera would be little more than a concert. But in the audience, we know little (and think less) about the enormous efforts of those involved in bringing an opera to life—by the stagehands who shift scenery, the scenic artists who create beautiful backdrops, the electricians who focus the spotlights, and the stage manager who calls them and the singers to their places during the performance. The first comprehensive history of the behind-the-scenes world of opera production and staging, From the Score to the Stage follows the evolution of visual style and set design in continental Europe from its birth in the seventeenth century up to today.
In clear, witty prose, Evan Baker covers all the major players and pieces involved in getting an opera onto the stage, from the stage director who creates the artistic concept for the production and guides the singers’ interpretation of their roles to the blocking of singers and placement of scenery. He concentrates on the people—composers, librettists, designers, and technicians—as well as the theaters and events that generated developments in opera production. Additional topics include the many difficulties in performing an opera, the functions of impresarios, and the business of music publishing. Delving into the absorbing and often neglected history of stage directing, theater architecture and technology, and scenic and lighting design, Baker nimbly links these technical aspects of opera to actual performances and performers, and the social context in which they appeared. Out of these details arise illuminating discussions of individual productions that cast new light on the operas of Wagner, Verdi, and others.
Packed with nearly two hundred color illustrations, From the Score to the Stage is a revealing, always entertaining look at what happens before the curtain goes up on opening night at the opera house.
Giovanna d’Arco (Joan of Arc), Verdi’s seventh opera, premiered at La Scala in 1845 to great public success despite sub-par production standards, and modern performances have swept away both audiences and critical reservations when the work is executed with faithfulness to his score. At the heart of this large-scale opera, with its prominent choruses, is the difficult and beautiful part of Joan—simultaneously ethereal soprano and dynamic warrior. The libretto by Temistocle Solera, based in part on Schiller’s play Die Jungfrau von Orleans, omits Joan’s trial for heresy and burning at the stake, ending instead with an offstage battle in which she is mortally wounded leading the French to victory against the English.
This critical edition of Giovanna d’Arco, the first publication in full score, is based on the composer’s autograph score preserved in the archives of Verdi’s publisher, Casa Ricordi. It restores the opera’s original text, which had been heavily censored, and accurately reflects Verdi’s colorful and elaborate musical setting. Editor Alberto Rizzuti’s introduction discusses the opera’s origins, sources, and performance questions, while the critical commentary details editorial problems and solutions.
Composed between October 1846 and the spring of 1847, I masnadieri features a libretto based on Schiller's play Die Raüber (The Robbers). The opera premiered in July 1847 at Her Majesty's Theatre, London, with Jenny Lind as the prima donna. Verdi himself supervised the rehearsals for the premiere, and the original performing parts, which contain annotations made by the players under Verdi's direction and changes made by the composer during the rehearsals, have been preserved at the archives of the Royal Opera House.
The critical edition is the first publication of I masnadieri in full score. Based on the composer's autograph and on important secondary sources such as the performing parts mentioned above, this edition provides scholars and performers alike with unequaled means for interpretation and study of one of Verdi's less well known works. The detailed critical commentary discusses problems and ambiguities in the sources, while a wide-ranging introduction to the score traces the opera's genesis, sources, and performance history and practices.
Although Verdi began sketching the music for Il corsaro in 1846, a lengthy illness forced him to postpone further work. He finally completed the score in early 1848, but the revolutions of that year delayed its first performance. When it finally premiered on 25 October at the Teatro Grande of Trieste Verdi was in Paris and did not participate as usual in the production, which was poorly received. Though more successful in subsequent stagings, Il corsaro was soon eclipsed by the operas of the noted "trilogy" and fell from the repertory.
The full score of Il corsaro, published here for the first time, as well as recent revivals based on pre-publication proofs of this critical edition, reveal the work to be far more rewarding than even Verdi himself would later admit. Showing the gradual consolidation of Verdi's mature style through his contacts with French opera, Il corsaro well repays the renewed attention it is receiving.
The Works of Giuseppe Verdi is the first critical edition of the composer’s oeuvre. Together with his operas, the series presents his songs, his choral music and sacred pieces, and his string quartet and other instrumental works.
Based on Verdi’s autograph score and an examination of important secondary sources, including contemporary manuscript copies and performing parts, this edition of Il trovatore identifies and resolves numerous ambiguities of harmony, melodic detail, text, and phrasing that have marred previous scores. Scholars and performers alike will find a wealth of information in the critical apparatus to inform their research and interpretations. The introduction to the score outlines the work’s genesis, sources, and performance history, while the critical commentary discusses all editorial decisions.
Il trovatore, the middle opera of Verdi's famous "trilogy" of the 1850s (with Rigoletto and La traviata), is the sixth work to be published in The Works of Giuseppe Verdi. Based on Verdi's autograph score and an examination of important secondary sources including contemporary manuscript copies and performing parts, the edition identifies and resolves numerous ambiguities of harmony, melodic detail, text, and phrasing that have marred previous scores. Scholars and performers alike will find a wealth of information in the critical apparatus to inform their research and interpretations.
The lengthy introduction to the score discusses the work's genesis, sources, and performance history as well as issues of instrumental and vocal performance practice, production and staging, and problems of notation. As an added feature of the introduction is an original study by Carlos Matteo Mossa of the creation of the libretto, based on the original draft and numerous other autograph documents.
Rossini composed his last Italian opera to celebrate the coronation of the French king Charles X in 1825. A virtuoso tour de force, it was conceived for the greatest voices of the time and calls for an exceptional cast of fourteen soloists: three prima donna sopranos, an alto, two tenors, four baritones, and four basses. One of the score's glories is the audacious "Gran Pezzo Concertato" for the fourteen soloists. In the Finale national toasts derived from patriotic songs set the driving music awhirl.
Rossini permitted only four performances of Viaggio, later reusing half the score for Le Comte Ory. The manuscript sources were presumed lost until part of the autograph was recovered in the 1970s at the Rome Conservatory, while other sources were found in Paris (including original performing parts) and Vienna. The identification of a missing chorus completed the restoration of this magnificent work to the repertory.
Along with the reconstructed score, the critical edition provides historical information about the libretto's relationship to French politics of the era and details on the first production.
Today, more than a century after its first performance, Richard Wagner’s The Ring of Nibelung endures as one of the most significant artistic creations in the history of opera. This monumental work not only altered previously accepted concepts of music and drama but also inspired creative and intellectual efforts far beyond the field of opera.
Previous studies of the Ring have appealed only to those already acquainted in some way with the Wagnerian art. For the uninitiated, Wagner and his landmark creation have seemed forbidding, and those eager to learn about the masterpiece have faced a vast and frequently esoteric body of commentary. Professor Cord addresses the interests of the non-specialist by taking the reader first into Wagner’s unique intent, and then through the complete history of the Ring.
Cord, who has attended forty performances of the Ring, considers the conception of the poem, its development into a music-drama exemplifying Wagnerian thought, its introduction to the world, and the reactions and interpretation it elicits.
La Cenerentola (Cinderella) is a masterpiece significantly different from Rossini's earlier comic operas. Deftly combining aspects of several genres, Rossini plays off comic characters in the great Italian tradition—Don Magnifico (Cinderella's stepfather) and the valet Dandini—against the sentimental principal roles of Cinderella and the Prince. For his heroine Rossini not only adapts the popular semiseria genre, but also exploits the coloratura style of opera seria, as she is transformed into a princess not by magic but by love and her own innate goodness.
For the hastily-prepared premiere of La Cenerentola in Rome in 1817 a collaborator wrote the simple recitatives, a chorus, and arias for Alidoro (the Prince's tutor) and Clorinda (a stepsister). The chorus was soon dropped, and in 1821 Rossini wrote a new aria for Alidoro. This critical edition provides all the music for the first version, including variants for Clorinda. Appendixes include Rossini's own aria for Alidoro and his variations for Cinderella's final Rondo.
The libretto for La gazzetta, written by Giuseppe Palomba, was based on a play by Carlo Goldoni entitled Il matrimonio per concorso. Rossini drew a two-act comic opera from this libretto chiefly by recycling old music, a fact that has weighed heavily in critical reaction to the work. But as this edition reveals, this view is misleading. Rossini himself wrote each borrowed piece or section anew in its entirety by significantly modifying details, changing vocal lines throughout, and introducing numerous orchestral modifications. The resulting opera—first performed on September 26, 1816, at the Teatro dei Fiorentini in Naples—is delightful, with Goldoni's wonderful structure and characters given superb musical life by Rossini. This critical edition, edited by Fabrizio Scipioni, presents the full score in two volumes, along with a separate volume of insightful commentary.
Now one of Verdi's most beloved works, La traviata was initially far from a success. Verdi declared its 1853 premiere a "fiasco," and later reworked parts of five pieces in the first two acts, retaining the original setting for the rest. The first performance of the new version in 1854 was a tremendous success, and the opera was quickly taken up by theaters around the world.
This critical edition presents the 1854 version as the main score, and also makes available for the first time in full score the original 1853 settings of the revised pieces. For this edition Fabrizio della Seta used not only the composer's autograph and many secondary sources, but also Verdi's previously unknown sketches. These sketches helped corroborate the original readings and illuminate the work's compositional stages. The editor's wide-ranging introduction traces the opera's genesis, sources, performance history and practices, and a detailed critical commentary discusses source problems and ambiguities.
Luisa Miller, a milestone in the maturation of Verdi's style, is the fifth work to be published in The Works of Giuseppe Verdi. Following the strict requirements of the series, this edition is based on Verdi's autograph and other authentic sources, and has been reviewed by a distinguished editorial board—Philip Gossett (general editor), Julian Budden, Martin Chusid, Francesco Degrada, Ursula Günter, Giorgio Pestelli, and Pierluigi Petrobelli. It is available as a two-volume set: a full orchestral score and a critical commentary. The newly set score is printed on acid-free paper and beautifully bound in an oversized format. The introduction to the score discusses the work's genesis, sources, and performance history as well as performance practice, instrumentation, and problems of notation. The critical commentary discusses editorial decisions and identifies the sources of alternate readings of the music and libretto.
Verdi had a special fondness for Macbeth, and the first version of his opera based on Shakespeare's play is arguably the most important work of his formative years. But dissatisfied with the work of his librettist, Francesco Maria Piave, Verdi reworked the text himself and lavished the score with particular attention. The premiere in Florence in 1847 was a great success, but for the Paris premiere in 1865, Verdi made substantial changes, adding dances and an entirely new aria, duet, chorus, and death scene. Clearly, he intended that Macbeth II supersede the earlier version, and today the "Paris" version is the one generally performed.
Published in three volumes, this critical edition of Macbeth is the only one based entirely on autograph sources. Containing the later version as the principal score, it is the first edition to consult the composer's manuscripts of the revised pieces, preserved at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. An appendix contains the earlier movements, and David Lawton provides a wide-ranging introduction to the opera's complex history. This critical edition of Macbeth includes here for the first time Verdi's preferred text—the version he set to music—as well as his own stage directions and thus offers the most vivid and dramatic reading to date.
The Magic of Beverly Sills
Nancy Guy University of Illinois Press, 2015 Library of Congress ML420.S562G89 2015 | Dewey Decimal 782.1092
With her superb coloratura soprano, passion for the world of opera, and down-to-earth personality, Beverly Sills made high art accessible to millions from the time of her meteoric rise to stardom in 1966 until her death in 2007. An unlikely pop culture phenomenon, Sills was equally at ease on talk shows, on the stage, and in the role of arts advocate and administrator. Merging archival research with her own love of Sills's music, Nancy Guy examines the singer-actress's artistry alongside the ineffable aspects of performance that earned Sills a passionate fandom. Guy mines the memories of colleagues, critics, and aficionados to recover something of the spell Sills wove for people on both sides of the footlights during the hot moments of onstage performance. At the same time, she analyzes essential questions raised by Sills's art and celebrity. How did Sills challenge the divide between elite and mass culture and build a fan base that crossed generations and socio-economic lines? Above all, how did Sills capture the unnameable magic that joins the members of an audience to a performer--and to one-another? Intimate and revealing, The Magic of Beverly Sills explores the alchemy of art, magnetism, community, and emotion that produced an American icon.
The Man Verdi
Frank Walker University of Chicago Press, 1982 Library of Congress ML410.V4W3 1982 | Dewey Decimal 782.1092
In this classic biography of composer Giuseppe Verdi, Frank Walker reveals Verdi the man through his connections with the individuals who knew him best.
“Walker focuses on some of the more significant people in Verdi’s life and carefully scrutinizes his relationships with them. His wife, Giuseppina Strepponi; his student and amanuensis, Emanuele Muzio; the conductor who first fully understood Verdi’s mature art, Angelo Mariani; the great prima donna, Teresa Stolz; the incomparable librettist and friend of his old age, Arrigo Boito—each passes before our eyes in Walker’s meticulous reconstruction. As we learn more about them, we learn more about Verdi. We see him through the eyes of his closest friends, we watch his daily activities, his daily thoughts, his habits, his warmth, his domestic tyranny. The myth dissolves and a human being stands before us.”—Philip Gossett, from the introduction
Reviewing the first volume of Opera Scenes for Class and Stage, Walter Ducloux wrote in the Opera Journal: "If you can come up, within five seconds, with an operatic excerpt involving two sopranos, four mezzo-sopranos, two tenors, and a bass, you don't need this book. Otherwise hurry and buy it. I keep it on my night table."
In More Opera Scenes, the Wallaces have reviewed 100 additional operas and have chosen over 700 scenes. The popular "Table of Voice Categories" providing more than 300 combinations is also featured in this volume.
Moses has long been a source of modern fascination. For Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis, Moses was a particularly fruitful subject for the study of memory and historiography. He also held great interest for the visual and performing arts. In the 1920s and ’30s, the composer Arnold Schoenberg wrote the three-act opera Moses and Aron. First performed just a few years before his exile to the United States, it required that its audiences distinguish voices from forceful background noise, just as Moses had to confront the burning bush before he could hear the voice of God. In 1974, filmmakers Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet created an avant-garde cinematic adaptation of Schoenberg’s opera that continued the composer’s examination of the established hierarchies of seeing and hearing.
In The Moses Complex, Ute Holl analyzes these major works in detail and deep historical context, synthesizing the complex models of resistance to explore the relationships among media, migration, and politics. Since Moses descended from Sinai with the tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments, new media and new laws have often emerged simultaneously. Liberation, in particular, has been negotiated through many different cultural media, with psychoanalysis, music, and cinema all describing exodus and exile as a process of force. Offering a dynamic and comprehensive political and cultural theory of migration and violence, The Moses Complex speaks equally well to psychoanalytic, musical, and cinematic thinking as it does to our tendency toward violence in the treatment of migrants today.
Gioachino Rossini's Mosè in Egitto is an opera that emerged from the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Italian tradition of oratorios written to be performed during Lent. The three-act opera draws from the Biblical book of Exodus to chronicle the story of Moses liberating the Israelites from Pharaoh's rule and guiding them out of Egypt. The librettist, Andrea Leone Tottola, also borrowed from an eighteenth-century drama to add a love affair between Pharaoh's son and an Israelite girl that motivates Pharaoh's final, fatal refusal in the opera to free the Israelites.
This critical edition presents the version performed in 1820 after Rossini had revised the unsuccessful and now lost third act of 1818. The edition includes an appendix with the original aria for Pharaoh written by Michele Carafa, which was performed throughout the nineteenth century even after Rossini replaced it with one of his own. Also featured are vocal ornamentation used in Paris performances and detailed information on the Paris productions between 1822 and 1840. This comprehensive critical edition provides a reliable source for interpretation and study of a work that Rossini called "sublime."
In the early 1800s, Rossini’s operas permeated Italy, from the opera house to myriad arrangements heard in public and private. But after Rossini stopped composing, a sharp decline in popularity drove most of his works out of the repertory. In the past half century, they have made a spectacular return to operatic stages worldwide, but this recent fame has not been accompanied by a comparable critical reevaluation.
Emanuele Senici’s new book provides a fresh look at the motives behind the Rossinian furore and its aftermath by examining the composer’s works in the historical context in which they were conceived, performed, seen, heard, and discussed. Situating the operas firmly within the social practices, cultural formations, ideological currents, and political events of early nineteenth-century Italy, Senici reveals Rossini’s dramaturgy as a radically new and specifically Italian reaction to the epoch-making changes witnessed in Europe at the time. The first book-length study of Rossini’s Italian operas to appear in English, Music in the Present Tense exposes new ways to explore nineteenth-century music and addresses crucial issues in the history of modernity, such as trauma, repetition, and the healing power of theatricality.
Opera and musical theater dominated French culture in the 1800s, and the influential stage music that emerged from this period helped make Paris, as Walter Benjamin put it, the “capital of the nineteenth century.” The fullest account available of this artistic ferment and its international impact, Music, Theater, and Cultural Transfer explores the diverse institutions that shaped Parisian music and extended its influence across Europe, the Americas, and Australia.
The contributors to this volume, who work in fields ranging from literature to theater to musicology, focus on the city’s musical theater scene as a whole rather than on individual theaters or repertories. Their broad range enables their collective examination of the ways in which all aspects of performance and reception were affected by the transfer of works, performers, and management models from one environment to another. By focusing on this interplay between institutions and individuals, the authors illuminate the tension between institutional conventions and artistic creation during the heady period when Parisian stage music reached its zenith.
Nabucodonosor, one of the early Verdi operas, is the third work to be published in The Works of Giuseppe Verdi. Following the strict requirements of the series, the edition is based on Verdi's autograph and other authentic sources, and has been reviewed by a distinguished editorial board—Philip Gossett, Julian Budden, Martin Chusid, Francesco Degrada, Ursula Günther, Giorgio Pestelli, and Pierluigi Petrobelli. Nabucodonosor is available as a two-volume set: a full orchestral score and a critical commentary. The score, which has been beautifully bound and autographed, is printed on high-grade paper in an oversized, 10-1/2 x 14-1/2-inch format. The introduction to the score discusses the work's genesis, sources, and performance history as well as performance practices, instrumentation, and problems of notation. The critical commentary, printed in a smaller format, discusses editorial decisions and identifies the sources of alternate readings of the music and libretto.
Networking Operatic Italy
University of Chicago Press, 2021 Library of Congress ML1733.4.V45 2021 | Dewey Decimal 782.1094509034
A study of the networks of opera production and critical discourse that shaped Italian cultural identity during and after Unification.
Opera’s role in shaping Italian identity has long fascinated both critics and scholars. Whereas the romance of the Risorgimento once spurred analyses of how individual works and styles grew out of and fostered specifically “Italian” sensibilities and modes of address, more recently scholars have discovered the ways in which opera has animated Italians’ social and cultural life in myriad different local contexts.
In Networking Operatic Italy, Francesca Vella reexamines this much-debated topic by exploring how, where, and why opera traveled on the mid-nineteenth-century peninsula, and what this mobility meant for opera, Italian cities, and Italy alike. Focusing on the 1850s to the 1870s, Vella attends to opera’s encounters with new technologies of transportation and communication, as well as its continued dissemination through newspapers, wind bands, and singing human bodies. Ultimately, this book sheds light on the vibrancy and complexity of nineteenth-century Italian operatic cultures, challenging many of our assumptions about an often exoticized country.
Opera often seems to arouse either irrational enthusiasm or visceral dislike. Such madness, as Goethe wrote, is indispensable in all theater, and yet in practice, sentiment and passion must be balanced by sense and reason. Exploring this tension between madness and reason, Not without Madness presents new analytical approaches to thinking about eighteenth- and nineteenth-century opera through the lenses of its historical and cultural contexts.
In these twelve essays, Fabrizio Della Seta explores the concept of opera as a dramatic event and an essential moment in the history of theater. Examining the meaning of opera and the devices that produce and transmit this meaning, he looks at the complex verbal, musical, and scenic mechanisms in parts of La sonnambula, Ernani, Aida, Le nozze di Figaro, Macbeth, and Il trovatore. He argues that approaches to the study of opera must address performance, interpretation, composition, reception, and cultural ramifications. Purely musical analysis does not make sense unless we take into account music’s dramatic function. Containing many essays available for the first time in English, Not without Madness bridges recent divisions in opera studies and will attract musicologists, musicians, and opera lovers alike.
Opera and its Voices in Utah
Walter Rudolph Utah State University Press, 2018 Library of Congress F1219.3.W94I54 2018 | Dewey Decimal 972.01
In volume 23 of the Arrington Lecture Series, Walter B. Rudolph explores Utah’s operatic history. There is no other written history of opera in Utah and while references are random, they can be consistently found. The list of visiting operatic artists to the Beehive state is imposing, even extraordinary, and equally unexpected is the diversity of standard repertoire and those works unique to, or composed about, Utah. In turn, Utah’s operatic assets have given to the world’s arsenal of singers and created an audience of unique proportions.
The Arrington Lecture series, established by one of the twentieth-century West's most distinguished historians, Leonard Arrington, has become a leading forum for prominent historians to address topics related to Mormon history. Utah State University hosts the Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture Series through the Merrill-Cazier Library Special Collections and Archives department.
Performed throughout Europe during the 1700s, Italian heroic opera, or opera seria, was the century’s most significant musical art form, profoundly engaging such figures as Handel, Haydn, and Mozart. Opera and Sovereignty is the first book to address this genre as cultural history, arguing that eighteenth-century opera seria must be understood in light of the period’s social and political upheavals.
Taking an anthropological approach to European music that’s as bold as it is unusual, Martha Feldman traces Italian opera’s shift from a mythical assertion of sovereignty, with its festive forms and rituals, to a dramatic vehicle that increasingly questioned absolute ideals. She situates these transformations against the backdrop of eighteenth-century Italian culture to show how opera seria both reflected and affected the struggles of rulers to maintain sovereignty in the face of a growing public sphere. In so doing, Feldman explains why the form had such great international success and how audience experiences of the period differed from ours today. Ambitiously interdisciplinary, Opera and Sovereignty will appeal not only to scholars of music and anthropology, but also to those interested in theater, dance, and the history of the Enlightenment.
From its origins in the 1670s through the French Revolution, serious opera in France was associated with the power of the absolute monarchy, and its ties to the crown remain at the heart of our understanding of this opera tradition (especially its foremost genre, the tragédie en musique).
In Opera and the Political Imaginary in Old Regime France, however, Olivia Bloechl reveals another layer of French opera’s political theater. The make-believe worlds on stage, she shows, involved not just fantasies of sovereign rule but also aspects of government. Plot conflicts over public conduct, morality, security, and law thus appear side-by-side with tableaus hailing glorious majesty. What’s more, opera’s creators dispersed sovereign-like dignity and powers well beyond the genre’s larger-than-life rulers and gods, to its lovers, magicians, and artists. This speaks to the genre’s distinctive combination of a theological political vocabulary with a concern for mundane human capacities, which is explored here for the first time.
By looking at the political relations among opera characters and choruses in recurring scenes of mourning, confession, punishment, and pardoning, we can glimpse a collective political experience underlying, and sometimes working against, ancienrégime absolutism. Through this lens, French opera of the period emerges as a deeply conservative, yet also more politically nuanced, genre than previously thought.
Opera and Vivaldi
Edited by Michael Collins and Elise K. Kirk University of Texas Press, 1984
From the New York Times review of the Dallas Opera's performance of Orlando furioso and the international symposium on Baroque opera:". . . it was a serious, thoughtful, consistent and imaginative realization of a beautiful, long-neglected work, one that fully deserved all the loving attention it received. As such, the production and its attendant symposium made a positive contribution to the cause of Baroque opera . . . . "Baroque opera experienced a revival in the late twentieth century. Its popularity, however, has given rise to a number of perplexing and exciting questions regarding literary sources, librettos, theater design, set design, stage movement, and costumes—even the editing of the operas. In 1980, the Dallas Opera produced the American premier of Vivaldi's Orlando furioso, which met with much acclaim. Concurrently an international symposium on the subject of Baroque opera was held at Southern Methodist University. Authorities from around the world met to discuss the operatic works of Vivaldi, Handel, and other Baroque composers as well as the characteristics of the genre. Michael Collins and Elise Kirk, deputy chair and chair of the symposium, edited the papers to produce this groundbreaking study, which will be of great interest to music scholars and opera lovers throughout the world. Contributors to Opera and Vivaldi include Shirley Wynne, John Walter Hill, Andrew Porter, Eleanor Selfridge-Field, Howard Mayer Brown, William Holmes, Ellen Rosand, and the editors.
Though some dismiss opera as old-fashioned, it shows no sign of disappearing from the world’s stage. So why do audiences continue to flock to it? Given its association with wealth, one might imagine that opera tickets function as a status symbol. But while a desire to hobnob with the upper crust might motivate the occasional operagoer, for hardcore fans the real answer, according to The Opera Fanatic, is passion—they do it for love.
Opera lovers are an intense lot, Claudio E. Benzecry discovers in his look at the fanatics who haunt the legendary Colón Opera House in Buenos Aires, a key site for opera’s globalization. Listening to the fans and their stories, Benzecry hears of two-hundred-mile trips for performances and nightlong camp-outs for tickets, while others testify to a particular opera’s power to move them—whether to song or to tears—no matter how many times they have seen it before. Drawing on his insightful analysis of these acts of love, Benzecry proposes new ways of thinking about people’s relationship to art and shows how, far from merely enhancing aspects of everyday life, art allows us to transcend it.
The History of Italian Opera marks the first time a team of scholars has worked together to investigate the entire Italian operatic tradition, rather than limiting its focus to major composers and their masterworks. Including both musicologists and historians of other arts, the contributors approach opera not only as a distinctive musical genre but also as a form of extravagant theater and a complex social phenomenon.
This sixth volume in the series centers on the sociological and critical aspects of opera in Italy, considering the art in the context of an Italian literary and cultural canon rarely revealed in English and American studies. In its six chapters, contributors survey critics' changing attitudes toward opera over several centuries, trace the evolution of formal conventions among librettists, explore the historical relationships between opera and Italian literature, and examine opera's place in Italian popular and national culture. In perhaps the volume's most striking contribution, German scholar Carl Dahlouse offers his most important statement on the dramaturgy of opera.
William C. Holmes provides a rare look behind the scenes into the world of early eighteenth-century Italian opera. Based on a rich store of newly recovered documents, mainly the personal papers of Luca Casimiro degli Albizzi, this social history illuminates the complexities of staging opera in the 1720s and '30s: the role of the impresario in planning an operatic season, financial and artistic difficulties, the importance of patronage, the power of individual singers and composers, considerations of set design, and the practice of altering librettos.
A member of an illustrious Florentine family, Albizzi (1664-1745) served as one of the principal impresarios of the Pergola, Florence's earliest and greatest opera theater. He also carried on an active correspondence with impresarios in other cities, freely giving his advice on various economic and artistic concerns. Holmes uses the Albizzi family archives—the most abundant and varied material yet available about an eighteenth-century impresario and his theater—to deepen our knowledge of an extraordinary but little understood period in Italian opera.
This book will appeal to anyone curious about operatic history.
Opera on Stage
Edited by Lorenzo Bianconi and Giorgio Pestelli University of Chicago Press, 2002 Library of Congress ML1733.S7513 1998 | Dewey Decimal 782.10945
The History of Italian Opera marks the first time a team of expert scholars has worked together to investigate the Italian operatic tradition in its entirety, rather than limiting its focus to individual eras or major composers and their masterworks. Including both musicologists and historians of other arts, the contributors approach opera not only as a distinctive musical genre but also as a form of extravagant theater and a complex social phenomenon-resulting in the sort of panoramic view critical to a deep and fruitful understanding of the art.
Opera on Stage, the second book of this multi-volume work to be published in English-in an expanded and updated version-focuses on staging and viewing Italian opera, from the court spectacles of the late sixteenth century to modern-day commercial productions. Mercedes Viale Ferrero describes the history of theater and stage design, detailing the evolution of the art well into the twentieth century. Gerardo Guccini does the same for stage and opera direction and the development of the director's role as an autonomous creative force. Kathleen Kuzmick Hansell discusses the interrelationships between theatrical ballet and Italian opera, from the age of Venetian opera to the early twentieth century. The visual emphasis of all three contributions is supplemented by over one hundred illustrations, and because much of this material-on the more "spectacular" visual aspects of Italian opera-has never before appeared in English, Opera on Stage will be welcomed by scholars and opera enthusiasts alike.
Katherine K. Preston leads the reader on an operatic tour of pre-Civil War America in this cultural study of what was, surprisingly, an almost ubiquitous art form. Her richly detailed examination of itinerant troupes covers orchestral and choral musicians as well as stars, impresarios, business methods, repertories, advertising techniques, itineraries, sizes of companies, and methods of travel.
Opera Production and Its Resources
Edited by Lorenzo Bianconi and Giorgio Pestelli University of Chicago Press, 1998 Library of Congress ML1733.S7513 1998 | Dewey Decimal 782.10945
Standing at the forefront of historiographical research, The History of Italian Opera marks the first time a multidisciplinary team of scholars has worked together to investigate the entire Italian operatic tradition, rather than limiting the focus to major composers and their masterworks. Including both musicologists and historians of other arts, the contributors approach opera not only as a distinctive musical genre but also as a form of extravagant theater and a complex social phenomenon.
Opera Production and Its Resources traces the social, economic, and artistic history of the production of opera from its origins around 1600 to contemporary stagings. From the very beginning, opera has been a chronically deficit-producing enterprise. Yet it maintained unchallenged preeminence in the culture of all Italians for centuries. The first half explores the central role of theater impresarios in putting on these complex productions and in increasing the output of librettos and scores. The second half considers the roles of the three key figures in the creation of any opera: the librettist, the composer, and the singer.
Opera Scenes for Class and Stage
Mary Elaine Wallace and Robert Wallace Southern Illinois University Press, 1979 Library of Congress MT955.W24 | Dewey Decimal 782.1071
Musically sound and fully annotated, this new reference work provides ready access to over 700 excerpts from 100 operas, by voice categories, and thus provides information on a wide variety of matters of interest to directors, teachers, and singers. A table of voice categories, coded excerpts (including length and reference to accessible scores), character descriptions (including estimations of degrees of difficulty of the music), summaries of the action of each excerpt, and indexes to titles, composers, and well-known arias and ensembles make this book an indispensable tool.
Opera, Sex, and Other Vital Matters gathers both classic and never-before-published essays from one of the leading stylists in contemporary American letters, and one of our more revered public intellectuals, Paul Robinson. Diverse and elegant, the essays in this new collection showcase the sly wit and lightly worn erudition of their author. Each celebrates art and the flesh, directing us to the twin ecstasies of music and eros.
The essays on opera gathered here explore how masterpieces like Fidelio and The Magic Flute reflect the intellectual currents of their day. Be it the work of Verdi or Mozart, Wagner or Strauss, Robinson compels us to search for meaning not just in the lyrics of opera but also in the music. In melody, not libretto, we are more likely to discern key historical complexities and appreciate the way opera transcends language and time. The essays on sexuality, meanwhile, are ruminative, funny, and even moving. At one moment, Robinson measures whether homosexuality is the result of destiny or free choice. In another, he shares a touching exchange of letters with a gay student in the process of coming out. The final essays that encompass "other vital matters" find Robinson at his most incisive. Whether defending Freud as the most influential thinker of the twentieth century, attacking the dreaded use of semicolons, reflecting on his own mortality, or even meditating on the nature of cats, Sex, Opera, and Other Vital Matters is an eclectic work that will appeal to any reader interested in the continuing relevance of ideas to life.
Playwright, director, and critic Ronald E. Mitchell offers general readers a richer understanding of traditions, terms, styles, and staging techniques of musical theater, including an introduction to seventeen examples of operas and musicals, from baroque and romantic operas to Gilbert & Sullivan, from proletarian dramas to Broadway shows like Oklahoma.
Abramo Basevi published his study of Verdi’s operas in Florence in 1859, in the middle of the composer’s career. The first thorough, systematic examination of Verdi’s operas, it covered the twenty works produced between 1842 and 1857—from Nabucco and Macbeth to Il trovatore, La traviata, and Aroldo. But while Basevi’s work is still widely cited and discussed—and nowhere more so than in the English-speaking world—no translation of the entire volume has previously been available. The Operas of Giuseppe Verdi fills this gap, at the same time providing an invaluable critical apparatus and commentary on Basevi’s work.
As a contemporary of Verdi and a trained musician, erudite scholar, and critic conversant with current and past operatic repertories, Basevi presented pointed discussion of the operas and their historical context, offering today’s readers a unique window into many aspects of operatic culture, and culture in general, in Verdi’s Italy. He wrote with precision on formal aspects, use of melody and orchestration, and other compositional features, which made his study an acknowledged model for the growing field of music criticism. Carefully annotated and with an engaging introduction and detailed glossary by editor Stefano Castelvecchi, this translation illuminates Basevi’s musical and historical references as well as aspects of his language that remain difficult to grasp even for Italian readers.
Making Basevi’s important contribution to our understanding of Verdi and his operas available to a broad audience for the first time, The Operas of Giuseppe Verdi will delight scholars and opera enthusiasts alike.
Since its origin, opera has been identified with the performance and negotiation of power. Once theaters specifically for opera were established, that connection was expressed in the design and situation of the buildings themselves, as much as through the content of operatic works. Yet the importance of the opera house’s physical situation, and the ways in which opera and the opera house have shaped each other, have seldom been treated as topics worthy of examination.
Operatic Geographies invites us to reconsider the opera house’s spatial production. Looking at opera through the lens of cultural geography, this anthology rethinks the opera house’s landscape, not as a static backdrop, but as an expression of territoriality. The essays in this anthology consider moments across the history of the genre, and across a range of geographical contexts—from the urban to the suburban to the rural, and from the “Old” world to the “New.” One of the book’s most novel approaches is to consider interactions between opera and its environments—that is, both in the domain of the traditional opera house and in less visible, more peripheral spaces, from girls’ schools in late seventeenth-century England, to the temporary arrangements of touring operatic troupes in nineteenth-century Calcutta, to rural, open-air theaters in early twentieth-century France. The essays throughout Operatic Geographies powerfully illustrate how opera’s spatial production informs the historical development of its social, cultural, and political functions.
Recognized as one of the most innovative and influential directors of our time, Peter Sellars has produced acclaimed—and often controversial—versions of many beloved operas and oratorios. He has also collaborated with several composers, including John C. Adams and Kaija Saariaho, to create challenging new operas. The Passions of Peter Sellars follows the development of his style, beginning with his interpretations of the Mozart-Da Ponte operas, proceeding to works for which he assembled the libretti and even the music, and concluding with his celebrated stagings of Bach’s passions with the Berlin Philharmonic.
Many directors leave the musical aspects of opera entirely to the singers and conductor. Sellars, however, immerses himself in the score, and has created a distinctive visual vocabulary to embody musical gesture on stage, drawing on the energies of the music as he shapes characters, ensemble interaction, and large-scale dramatic trajectories. As a leading scholar of gender and music, and the history of opera, Susan McClary is ideally positioned to illuminate Sellars’s goal to address both the social tensions embodied in these operas as well as the spiritual dimensions of operatic performance. McClary considers Sellars’s productions of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte; Handel’s Theodora; Messiaen’s Saint François d’Assise; John C. Adams’s Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer, El Niño, and Doctor Atomic; Kaija Saariaho’s L’amour de loin, La Passion de Simone, and Only the Sound Remains; Purcell’s The Indian Queen; and Bach’s passions of Saint Matthew and Saint John. Approaching Sellars’s theatrical strategies from a musicological perspective, McClary blends insights from theater, film, and literary scholarship to explore the work of one of the most brilliant living interpreters of opera.
Set in the American West during the California Gold Rush, La fanciulla del West marked a significant departure from Giacomo Puccini's previous and best- known works. Puccini and the Girl is the first book to explore this important but often misunderstood opera that became the earliest work by a major European composer to receive an American premiere when it opened at New York's Metropolitan Opera House in 1910.
Adapted from American playwright David Belasco's Broadway production, The Girl of the Golden West, Fanciulla was Puccini's most consciously modern work, and its Met debut received mixed reviews. Annie J. Randall and Rosalind Gray Davis base their account of its creation on previously unknown letters from Puccini to his main librettist, Carlo Zangarini. They mine musical materials, newspaper accounts, and rare photographs and illustrations to tell the full story of this controversial opera. Puccini and the Girl considers the production and reception of Puccini's "cowboy" opera in the light of contemporary criticism, providing both fascinating insight into its history and a look to the future as its centenary approaches.
“Engrossing. . . . An eminently readable, ideally direct and information-packed book.”—William Fregosi, Opera Today
Puccini's operas are among the most popular and widely performed in the world, yet few books have examined his body of work from an analytical perspective. This volume remedies that lack in lively prose accessible to scholars and opera enthusiasts alike.
Philosopher Marcel Hébert developed his Religious Experience in the Work of Richard Wagner (1895) from this background of sustained popular interest in Wagner, an interest that had intensified with the return of his operas to the Paris stage. Newspaper debates about the impact of Wagner's ideas on French society often stressed the links between Wagner and religion. These debates inspired works like Hébert's, intended to explain the complex myth and allegory in Wagner's work and to elucidate it for a new generation of French spectators.
Resisting Spirits is a reconsideration of the significance and periodization of literary production in the high socialist era, roughly 1953 through 1966, specifically focused on Mao-era culture workers’ experiments with ghosts and ghost plays. Maggie Greene combines rare manuscript materials—such as theatre troupes’ annotated practice scripts—with archival documents, memoirs, newspapers, and films to track key debates over the direction of socialist aesthetics. Through arguments over the role of ghosts in literature, Greene illuminates the ways in which culture workers were able to make space for aesthetic innovation and contestation both despite and because of the constantly shifting political demands of the Mao era. Ghosts were caught up in the broader discourse of superstition, modernization, and China’s social and cultural future. Yet, as Greene demonstrates, the ramifications of those concerns as manifested in the actual craft of writing and performing plays led to further debates in the realm of literature itself: If we remove the ghost from a ghost play, does it remain a ghost play? Does it lose its artistic value, its didactic value, or both? At the heart of Greene’s intervention is “just reading”: the book regards literature first as literature, rather than searching immediately for its political subtext, and the voices of dramatists themselves finally upstage those of Mao’s inner circle. Ironically, this surface reading reveals layers of history that scholars of the Mao era have often ignored, including the ways in which social relations and artistic commitments continued to inform the world of art. Focusing on these concerns points to continuities and ruptures in the cultural history of modern China beyond the bounds of “campaign time.” Resisting Spirits thus illuminates the origins of more famous literary inquisitions, including that surrounding Hai Rui Dismissed from Office, by exploring ghost plays such as Li Huiniang that at first appear more innocent. To the contrary, Greene shows how the arguments surrounding ghost plays and the fates of their authors place the origins of the Cultural Revolution several years earlier, with a radical new shift in the discourse of theatre.
“I complain bitterly of the editions of my last operas, made with such little care, and filled with an infinite number of errors.”—Giuseppe Verdi
The University of Chicago Press, in collaboration with Casa Ricordi, has undertaken to publish the first critical edition of the complete works of Giuseppe Verdi. The series, based exclusively on original sources, is the only one to present authentic versions of all of the composer’s works; together with his operas, the critical edition presents his songs, his choral music and sacred pieces, and his string quartet and other instrumental works.
The Works of Giuseppe Verdi will be an invaluable standard reference work—a necessary acquisition for all music libraries and a joy to own for all lovers of opera. The new series of study scores presents an adaptation of each critical edition that provides scholars with an affordable and portable option for exploring Verdi’s oeuvre. The study scores have been designed to distinguish editors’ marks from Verdi’s own notations while remaining clear enough for use in performance. The introduction to each score discusses the work’s sources, composition, and performance history, as well as performance practices, instrumentation, and problems of notation. The newest editions of the study scores examine two of Verdi’s three-act operas: La traviata and Rigoletto.
The University of Chicago Press, in collaboration with Casa Ricordi of Milan, has undertaken to publish the first critical edition of the complete works of Giuseppe Verdi. The Works of Giuseppe Verdi, the only edition based exclusively on original sources and the only one to present authentic versions of all the composer's works, will include each of Verdi's twenty-eight operas (all versions), his sacred music, songs, chamber music, and juvenilia. The series begins with the definitive version of Rigoletto.
The Rise of Cantonese Opera
Wing Chung Ng University of Illinois Press, 2015 Library of Congress ML1751.C5N45 2015 | Dewey Decimal 782.10951275
Defined by its distinct performance style, stage practices, and regional and dialect based identities, Cantonese opera originated as a traditional art form performed by itinerant companies in temple courtyards and rural market fairs.
In the early 1900s, however, Cantonese opera began to capture mass audiences in the commercial theaters of Hong Kong and Guangzhou--a transformation that changed it forever. Wing Chung Ng charts Cantonese opera's confrontations with state power, nationalist discourses, and its challenge to the ascendancy of Peking opera as the country's preeminent "national theatre." Mining vivid oral histories and heretofore untapped archival sources, Ng relates how Cantonese opera evolved from a fundamentally rural tradition into urbanized entertainment distinguished by a reliance on capitalization and celebrity performers. He also expands his analysis to the transnational level, showing how waves of Chinese emigration to Southeast Asia and North America further re-shaped Cantonese opera into a vibrant part of the ethnic Chinese social life and cultural landscape in the many corners of a sprawling diaspora.
Semiramide brought Rossini's Italian career to a spectacular close in 1823. Its key scenes have great musical and dramatic impact, and in its expansive dimensions he attains masterful heights. Yet Semiramide remains true to neoclassical archetypes of style and form, with its preponderance of arias and duets. Proving gratifying to generations of fine singers, it was one of Rossini's last opere serie to disappear from the repertory and the first to be revived. Today it remains his most frequently performed Italian heroic opera. This critical edition is based on the autograph score, including the spartitino (for the wind and percussion instruments in large ensembles) recently discovered in the archives of Venice's La Fenice. More than a dozen contemporary manuscript copies and numerous early printed vocal scores were also consulted. An appendix includes Gossett's edition of Rossini's sketches for several numbers. Following the main score in three volumes, a fourth volume provides the original realization for the on-stage band.
In Sensing Sound Nina Sun Eidsheim offers a vibrational theory of music that radically re-envisions how we think about sound, music, and listening. Eidsheim shows how sound, music, and listening are dynamic and contextually dependent, rather than being fixed, knowable, and constant. She uses twenty-first-century operas by Juliana Snapper, Meredith Monk, Christopher Cerrone, and Alba Triana as case studies to challenge common assumptions about sound—such as air being the default medium through which it travels—and to demonstrate the importance a performance's location and reception play in its contingency. By theorizing the voice as an object of knowledge and rejecting the notion of an a priori definition of sound, Eidsheim releases the voice from a constraining set of fixed concepts and meanings. In Eidsheim's theory, music consists of aural, tactile, spatial, physical, material, and vibrational sensations. This expanded definition of music as manifested through material and personal relations suggests that we are all connected to each other in and through sound. Sensing Sound will appeal to readers interested in sound studies, new musicology, contemporary opera, and performance studies.
In this book, Emily Wilbourne boldly traces the roots of early opera back to the sounds of the commedia dell’arte. Along the way, she forges a new history of Italian opera, from the court pieces of the early seventeenth century to the public stages of Venice more than fifty years later.
Wilbourne considers a series of case studies structured around the most important and widely explored operas of the period: Monteverdi’s lost L’Arianna, as well as his Il Ritorno d’Ulisse and L’incoronazione di Poppea; Mazzochi and Marazzoli’s L’Egisto, ovvero Chi soffre speri; and Cavalli’s L’Ormindo and L’Artemisia. As she demonstrates, the sound-in-performance aspect of commedia dell’arte theater—specifically, the use of dialect and verbal play—produced an audience that was accustomed to listening to sonic content rather than simply the literal meaning of spoken words. This, Wilbourne suggests, shaped the musical vocabularies of early opera and facilitated a musicalization of Italian theater.
Highlighting productive ties between the two worlds, from the audiences and venues to the actors and singers, this work brilliantly shows how the sound of commedia performance ultimately underwrote the success of opera as a genre.
From the theatrical stage to the literary salon, the figure of Sappho—the ancient poet and inspiring icon of feminine creativity—played a major role in the intertwining histories of improvisation, text, and performance throughout the nineteenth century. Exploring the connections between operatic and poetic improvisation in Italy and beyond, Singing Sappho combines earwitness accounts of famous female improviser-virtuosi with erudite analysis of musical and literary practices. Melina Esse demonstrates that performance played a much larger role in conceptions of musical authorship than previously recognized, arguing that discourses of spontaneity—specifically those surrounding the improvvisatrice, or female poetic improviser—were paradoxically used to carve out a new authority for opera composers just as improvisation itself was falling into decline. With this novel and nuanced book, Esse persuasively reclaims the agency of performers and their crucial role in constituting Italian opera as a genre in the nineteenth century.
Artists today are at a crossroads. With funding for the arts and humanities endowments perpetually under attack, and school districts all over the United States scrapping their art curricula altogether, the place of the arts in our civic future is uncertain to say the least. At the same time, faced with the problems of the modern world—from water shortages and grave health concerns to global climate change and the now constant threat of terrorism—one might question the urgency of this waning support for the arts. In the politically fraught world we live in, is the “felt” experience even something worth fighting for?
In this soul-searching collection of vignettes, Patrick Summers gives us an adamant, impassioned affirmative. Art, he argues, nurtures freedom of thought, and is more necessary now than ever before.
As artistic director of the Houston Grand Opera, Summers is well positioned to take stock of the limitations of the professional arts world—a world where the conversation revolves almost entirely around financial questions and whose reputation tends toward elitism—and to remind us of art’s fundamental relationship to joy and meaning. Offering a vehement defense of long-form arts in a world with a short attention span, Summers argues that art is spiritual, and that music in particular has the ability to ask spiritual questions, to inspire cathartic pathos, and to express spiritual truths. Summers guides us through his personal encounters with art and music in disparate places, from Houston’s Rothko Chapel to a music classroom in rural China, and reflects on musical works he has conducted all over the world. Assessing the growing canon of new operas performed in American opera houses today, he calls for musical artists to be innovative and brave as opera continues to reinvent itself.
This book is a moving credo elucidating Summers’s belief that the arts, especially music, help us to understand our own humanity as intellectual, aesthetic, and ultimately spiritual.
The performance history of Stiffelio as Verdi envisioned it began only in 1993. Composed with Rigoletto, and sharing many of its characteristics, Stiffelio suffered from the censors' strictures. From its premiere in 1850, its text was diluted to appease the authorities, making a mockery of the action and Verdi's carefully calibrated music. The story of Stiffelio, a protestant minister who eventually divorces his adulterous wife but forgives her from the pulpit in the final scene, shocked conservative Italian religious and political powers. The libretto was rewritten for subsequent revivals, and even some music was dropped. In 1856 the composer angrily withdrew Stiffelio from circulation, reusing parts of the score for his Aroldo. The rest was later presumed lost.
Not until 1992 was it revealed that Verdi's heirs possessed not only most of the canceled score, but also sixty pages of sketches for Stiffelio. These were used for the preliminary score of the critical edition, premiered in 1993 at New York's Metropolitan Opera. It was the first time Stiffelio was performed as Verdi wrote it. It has been enthusiastically received around the world.
With the publication of the critical edition, the first in full orchestral score, Stiffelio should take its rightful place in the Verdi canon.
A timeless tale of love, lust, and politics, Tosca is one of the most popular operas ever written. In Tosca's Rome, Susan Vandiver Nicassio explores the surprising historical realities that lie behind Giacomo Puccini's opera and the play by Victorien Sardou on which it is based.
By far the most "historical" opera in the active repertoire, Tosca is set in a very specific time and place: Rome, from June 17 to 18, 1800. But as Nicassio demonstrates, history in Tosca is distorted by nationalism and by the vehement anticlerical perceptions of papal Rome shared by Sardou, Puccini, and the librettists. To provide the historical background necessary for understanding Tosca, Nicassio takes a detailed look at Rome in 1800 as each of Tosca's main characters would have seen it—the painter Cavaradossi, the singer Tosca, and the policeman Scarpia. Finally, she provides a scene-by-scene musical and dramatic analysis of the opera.
"[Nicassio] must be the only living historian who can boast that she once sang the role of Tosca. Her deep knowledge of Puccini's score is only to be expected, but her understanding of daily and political life in Rome at the close of the 18th century is an unanticipated pleasure. She has steeped herself in the period and its prevailing culture-literary, artistic, and musical-and has come up with an unusual, and unusually entertaining, history."—Paul Bailey, Daily Telegraph
"In Tosca's Rome, Susan Vandiver Nicassio . . . orchestrates a wealth of detail without losing view of the opera and its pleasures. . . . Nicassio aims for opera fans and for historians: she may well enthrall both."—Publishers Weekly
"This is the book that ranks highest in my estimation as the most in-depth, and yet highly entertaining, journey into the story of the making of Tosca."—Catherine Malfitano
"Nicassio's prose . . . is lively and approachable. There is plenty here to intrigue everyone-seasoned opera lovers, musical novices, history buffs, and Italophiles."—Library Journal
Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, and Siegfried. Parsifal. Tristan und Isolde. Both revered and reviled, Richard Wagner conceived some of the nineteenth century’s most influential operas—and created some of the most indelible characters ever to grace the stage. But over the course of his polarizing career, Wagner also composed volumes of essays and pamphlets, some on topics seemingly quite distant from the opera house. His influential concept of Gesamtkunstwerk—the “total work of art”—famously and controversially offered a way to unify the different media of an opera into a coherent whole. Less well known, however, are Wagner’s strange theories on sexuality—like his ideas about erotic acoustics and the metaphysics of sexual difference.
Drawing on the discourses of psychoanalysis, evolutionary biology, and other emerging fields of study that informed Wagner’s thinking, Adrian Daub traces the dual influence of Gesamtkunstwerk and eroticism from their classic expressions in Tristan und Isolde into the work of the generation of composers that followed, including Zemlinsky, d’Albert, Schreker, and Strauss. For decades after Wagner’s death, Daub writes, these composers continued to grapple with his ideas and with his overwhelming legacy, trying in vain to write their way out from Tristan’s shadow.
Prominent components of Louis XIV’s propaganda, the arts of spectacle also became sources of a potent resistance to the monarchy in late seventeenth-century France. With a particular focus on the court ballet, comedy-ballet, opera, and opera-ballet, Georgia J. Cowart tells the long-neglected story of how the festive arts deployed an intricate network of subversive satire to undermine the rhetoric of sovereign authority.
With bold revisionist strokes, Cowart traces this strain of artistic dissent through the comedy-ballets of Jean-Baptiste Lully and Molière, the late operatic works of Lully and the operas of his sons, the opera-ballets of André Campra and his contemporaries, and the related imagery of Antoine Watteau’s well-known painting The Pilgrimage to Cythera. She contends that through a variety of means, including the parody of old-fashioned court entertainments, these works reclaimed traditional allegories for new ideological aims, setting the tone for the Enlightenment. Exploring these arts from the perspective of spectacle as it emerged from the court into the Parisian public sphere, Cowart ultimately situates the ballet and related genres as the missing link between an imagery of propaganda and an imagery of political protest.
The Trouble with Wagner
Michael P. Steinberg University of Chicago Press, 2018 Library of Congress ML410.W15S74 2018 | Dewey Decimal 782.1092
In this unique and hybrid book, cultural and music historian Michael P. Steinberg combines a close analysis of Wagnerian music drama with a personal account of his work as a dramaturg on the bicentennial production of The Ring of the Nibelung for the Teatro alla Scala Milan and the Berlin State Opera. Steinberg shows how Wagner uses the power of a modern mythology to heighten music’s claims to knowledge, thereby fusing not only art and politics, but truth and lies as well. Rather than attempting to separate value and violence, or “the good from the bad,” as much Wagner scholarship as well as popular writing have tended to do, Steinberg proposes that we confront this paradox and look to the capacity of the stage to explore its depths and implications.
Drawing on decades of engagement with Wagner and of experience teaching opera across disciplines, The Trouble with Wagner is packed with novel insights for experts and interested readers alike.
What happens when operas that are comfortably ensconced in the canon are thoroughly rethought and radically recast on stage? What does a staging do to our understanding of an opera, and of opera generally? While a stage production can disrupt a work that was thought to be established, David J. Levin here argues that the genre of opera is itself unsettled, and that the performance of operas, at its best, clarifies this condition by bringing opera’s restlessness and volatility to life.
Unsettling Opera explores a variety of fields, considering questions of operatic textuality, dramaturgical practice, and performance theory. Levin opens with a brief history of opera production, opera studies, and dramatic composition, and goes on to consider in detail various productions of the works of Wagner, Mozart, Verdi, and Alexander Zemlinsky. Ultimately, the book seeks to initiate a dialogue between scholars of music, literature, and performance by addressing questions raised in each field in a manner that influences them all.
Anselm Gerhard explores the origins of grand opéra, arguing that its aesthetic innovations (both musical and theatrical) reflected not bourgeois tastes, but changes in daily life and psychological outlook produced by the rapid urbanization of Paris. These larger urban and social concerns—crucial to our understanding of nineteenth-century opera—are brought to bear in fascinating discussions of eight operas composed by Rossini, Auber, Meyerbeer, Verdi, and Louise Bertin.
"An invaluable look at this fascinating genre."—George W. Loomis, Opera News
Printed in the colors of flesh and blood, VAS: An Opera in Flatland—a hybrid image-text novel—demonstrates how differing ways of imagining the body generate diverse stories of history, gender, politics, and, ultimately, the literature of who we are.
A constantly surprising, VAS combines a variety of voices, from journalism and libretto to poem and comic book. Often these voices meet in counterpoint, and the meaning of the narrative emerges from their juxtapositions, harmonies, or discords. Utilizing a wide and historical sweep of representations of the body—from pedigree charts to genetic sequences—VAS is, finally, the story of finding one's identity within the double helix of language and lineage.
The Verdi-Boito Correspondence
Giuseppe Verdi and Arrigo Boito University of Chicago Press, 1994 Library of Congress ML410.V4A4 1994 | Dewey Decimal 782.10922
These 301 letters between Giuseppe Verdi and his last, most gifted librettist, Arrigo Boito, document an extraordinary chapter in musical history. Now available for the first time in English, this correspondence records both a unique friendship and its creative legacy.
This new edition of the landmark Carteggio Verdi/Boito is at once a valuable resource for all students, teachers, and scholars of opera and a fascinating glimpse of the daily life of European art and artists during the fertile last decades of the 19th century.
Embarking on a 20-year collaboration, Verdi and Boito produced a successful revision of Simon Boccanegra, and two new operas, Otello and Falstaff. They created what many consider to be Verdi's greatest operas, thanks both to Boito's poetry and to his handling of the composer. Here are the day-to-day tasks of creation: poet and composer debating problems of dramatic structure, words, phrases, and meters; altering dialogue as, at the same time, they converse about the wider worlds of art and music. The give and take of artistic creation is rendered fascinatingly.
This edition features a new introduction by Marcello Conati, improvements and updatings to the original edition, and an appendix of undated correspondence. William Weaver's translation is characteristically pitch-perfect; he also provides a short closing sketch of Boito's life after the death of his beloved maestro. Explanatory "linking texts" between the letters create a narrative.
Verdi's Aida was first published in 1978. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
During the middle phase of his career, 1849-59, Verdi adopted new compositional procedures to create some of his best-loved and most-performed works. Focusing on the operas he composed during this period, this volume explores Verdi's work from three interlinked perspectives: studies of the original source material, cross-disciplinary analyses of musical and textual issues, and the relationship of performance practice to Verdi's musical and dramatic conception.
In addition to offering new insights into such staples as Il trovatore, La traviata, and Un ballo in maschera, Verdi's Middle Period also highlights works which have only recently begun to re-enter public consciousness, such as Stiffelio, as well as lesser-known works such as Luisa Miller and Les Vêpres siciliennes. Comprising major essays by some of the best-known Verdians of our day, as well as articles from up-and-coming scholars, this volume has much to offer readers ranging from musicologists to serious opera buffs.
Contributors are Martin Chusid, Markus Engelhardt, Linda B. Fairtile, Philip Gossett, Kathleen Kuzmick Hansell, Elizabeth Hudson, James Hepokoski, Roberta Montemorra Marvin, Carlo Matteo Mossa, Roger Parker, Harold S. Powers, David Rosen, and Mary Ann Smart.
In this innovative study, Gilles de Van focuses on an often neglected aspect of Verdi's operas: their effectiveness as theater. De Van argues that two main aesthetic conceptions underlie all of Verdi's works: that of the "melodrama" and the "musical drama." In the melodrama the composer relies mainly on dramatic intensity and the rhythm linking various stages of the plot, using exemplary characters and situations. But in the musical drama reality begins to blur, the musical forms lose their excessively neat patterns, and doubt and ambiguity undermine characters and situations, reflecting the crisis of character typical of modernity.
Although melodrama tends to dominate Verdi's early work and musical drama his later, both aesthetics are woven into all his operas: musical drama is already present in Ernani (1844), and melodrama is still present in Otello (1887). Indeed, much of the interest and originality of Verdi's operas lies in his adherence to both these contradictory systems, allowing the composer/dramatist to be simultaneously classical and modern, traditionalist and innovator.
Voices in a Mask: Stories
Geoffrey Green Northwestern University Press, 2008 Library of Congress PS3607.R4328V65 2008 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Based on images of disguise in literature, theater, and opera, this short-story cycle explores themes of identity and subterfuge in a fictional fugue that ranges from comic to poignant. Into the librettos of Don Giovanni, Tosca, Rigoletto, and other operas, Green weaves the authentic biographies of their singers and composers, modern-day settings, and his own imaginative twists. Throughout Voices in a Mask, characters obscure and reveal themselves as art mimics life and life, art. Ultimately the very acts of masking and projecting reveal a truth about the power of art and its inherent deceptions.
Though his image is tarnished today by unrepentant anti-Semitism, Richard Wagner (1813–1883) was better known in the nineteenth century for his provocative musical eroticism. In this illuminating study of the composer and his works, Laurence Dreyfus shows how Wagner’s obsession with sexuality prefigured the composition of operas such as Tannhäuser, Die Walküre, Tristan und Isolde, and Parsifal. Daring to represent erotic stimulation, passionate ecstasy, and the torment of sexual desire, Wagner sparked intense reactions from figures like Baudelaire, Clara Schumann, Nietzsche, and Nordau, whose verbal tributes and censures disclose what was transmitted when music represented sex.
Wagner himself saw the cultivation of an erotic high style as central to his art, especially after devising an anti-philosophical response to Schopenhauer’s “metaphysics of sexual love.” A reluctant eroticist, Wagner masked his personal compulsion to cross-dress in pink satin and drench himself in rose perfumes while simultaneously incorporating his silk fetish and love of floral scents into his librettos. His affection for dominant females and surprising regard for homosexual love likewise enable some striking portraits in his operas. In the end, Wagner’s achievement was to have fashioned an oeuvre which explored his sexual yearnings as much as it conveyed—as never before—how music could act on erotic impulse.
South African artist William Kentridge’s drawings, films, books, installations, and collaborations with opera and theater companies have established him as a world-class star in contemporary art, media, and theater. In 2010, and again in 2013, he staged Dmitri Shostakovich’s The Nose at the Metropolitan Opera; after the premiere, the New York Times noted that “Kentridge, who directed this production, helped design the sets and created the videos that animate the staging, received the heartiest bravos.” In this book, Jane Taylor, Kentridge’s friend and frequent collaborator, invites us to take an extraordinary behind-the-scenes look at his work for the show.
Kentridge has long been admired for his unconventional use of conventional media to produce art that is stunning, evocative, and narratively powerful—and how he works is as important as what he creates. This book is more than just a simple record of The Nose. The opera serves as a springboard into a bracing conversation about how Kentridge’s methods serve his unique mode of expression as a narrative and political artist. Taylor draws on his etchings, sculptures, and drawings to render visible the communication that occurs between his mind and hand as he thinks through the activity of making. Beautifully illustrated in color, William Kentridge offers striking insights about one of the most innovative artists of our present moment.