Aqueduct hunting has been a favorite pastime for visitors to Rome since antiquity, although serious study of how the Eternal City obtained its water did not begin until the seventeenth century. It was Raffaele Fabretti (1619-1700), the well-known Italian antiquarian and epigrapher, who began the first systematic research of the Roman aqueduct system.
Fabretti's treatise, De aquis et aquaeductibus veteris Romae dissertationes tres, is cited as a matter of course by all later scholars working in the area of Roman topography. Its findings--while updated and supplemented by more recent archaeological efforts--have never been fully superseded. Yet despite its enormous importance and impact on scholarly efforts, the De aquis has never yet been translated from the original Latin. Aqueduct Hunting in the Seventeenth Century provides a full translation of and commentary on Fabretti's writings, making them accessible to a broad audience and carefully assessing their scholarly contributions.
Harry B. Evans offers his reader an introduction to Fabretti and his scholarly world. A complete translation and a commentary that focuses primarily on the topographical problems and Fabretti's contribution to our understanding of them are also provided. Evans also assesses the contributions and corrections of later archaeologists and topographers and places the De aquis in the history of aqueduct studies.
Evans demonstrates that Fabretti's conclusions, while far from definitive, are indeed significant and merit wider attention than they have received to date. This book will appeal to classicists and classical archaeologists, ancient historians, and readers interested in the history of technology, archaeology, and Rome and Italy in the seventeenth century.
Harry B. Evans is Professor of Classics, Fordham University.
City of the Soul critically examines how an international cast of visitors fashioned Rome’s image, visual and literary, in the century between 1770 and 1870—from the era of the Grand Tour to the onset of mass tourism. The Eternal City emerges not only as an intensely physical place but also as a romantic idea onto which artists and writers projected their own imaginations and longings. The book will appeal to a wide audience of readers interested in the history of art, architecture, and photography, the Romantic poets, and other writers from Byron to Henry James. It will also attract the interest of historians of urbanism, landscape, and Italy. Nonspecialists and armchair travelers will enjoy the diverse literary and artistic responses to Rome.
A Coin in Nine Hands: A Novel
Marguerite Yourcenar University of Chicago Press, 1994 Library of Congress PQ2649.O8D413 1994 | Dewey Decimal 843.912
During the space of a day in Rome in 1933, a ten-lira coin passes through the hands of nine people—including an aging artist, a prostitute, and a would-be assassin of Mussolini. The coin becomes the symbol of contact between human beings, each lost in private passions and nearly impenetrable solitude.
"A Coin in Nine Hands has . . . passages that move close to poetry and a story that belongs in both literature and history."—Doris Grumbach, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"What lingers at the end of A Coin in Nine Hands is the shadowiness and puppetlike vagueness of the Dictator, and the compelling specificity of the so-called 'common people' revolving all around him."—Anne Tyler, The New Republic
"Within a few pages we have met half the major characters in this haunting, brilliantly constructed novel. . . . The studied perfection, the structural intricacy and brevity remind one of Camus. Yet by comparison, Yourcenar's prose is lavish, emotional and imagistic."—Cynthia King, Houston Post
"Transcends its specific time and place to become a portrait of vividly delineated characters caught in the vise of a tragically familiar political situation."—Publisher's Weekly
Best known as the author of Memoirs of Hadrian and The Abyss, Marguerite Yourcenar (1903-87) achieved countless literary honors and was the first woman ever elected to the Académie Française.
Keith Hopkins Harvard University Press, 2005 Library of Congress DG68.1.H67 2005 | Dewey Decimal 937.6
The history of the Colosseum is, in reality, much stranger than the legend. In this engaging book, we learn the details of how the arena was built and at what cost; we meet the emperors who sometimes fought in gladiatorial games; and we take measure of the audience who reveled in, or opposed, these games. The authors also trace the strange afterlife of the monument.
Between the catastrophic flood of the Tiber River in 1557 and the death of the “engineering pope” Sixtus V in 1590, the city of Rome was transformed by intense activity involving building construction and engineering projects of all kinds. Using hundreds of archival documents and primary sources, Engineering the Eternal City explores the processes and people involved in these infrastructure projects—sewers, bridge repair, flood prevention, aqueduct construction, the building of new, straight streets, and even the relocation of immensely heavy ancient Egyptian obelisks that Roman emperors had carried to the city centuries before.
This portrait of an early modern Rome examines the many conflicts, failures, and successes that shaped the city, as decision-makers tried to control not only Rome’s structures and infrastructures but also the people who lived there. Taking up visual images of the city created during the same period—most importantly in maps and urban representations, this book shows how in a time before the development of modern professionalism and modern bureaucracies, there was far more wide-ranging conversation among people of various backgrounds on issues of engineering and infrastructure than there is in our own times. Physicians, civic leaders, jurists, cardinals, popes, and clerics engaged with painters, sculptors, architects, printers, and other practitioners as they discussed, argued, and completed the projects that remade Rome.
One of the most visited places in the world, Rome attracts millions of tourists each year to walk its storied streets and see famous sites like the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Trevi Fountain. Yet this ancient city’s allure is due as much to its rich, unbroken history as to its extraordinary array of landmarks. Countless incarnations and eras merge in the Roman cityscape. With a history spanning nearly three millennia, no other place can quite match the resilience and reinventions of the aptly nicknamed Eternal City.
In this unique and visually engaging book, Jessica Maier considers Rome through the eyes of mapmakers and artists who have managed to capture something of its essence over the centuries. Viewing the city as not one but ten “Romes,” she explores how the varying maps and art reflect each era’s key themes. Ranging from modest to magnificent, the images comprise singular aesthetic monuments like paintings and grand prints as well as more popular and practical items like mass-produced tourist plans, archaeological surveys, and digitizations. The most iconic and important images of the city appear alongside relatively obscure, unassuming items that have just as much to teach us about Rome’s past. Through 140 full-color images and thoughtful overviews of each era, Maier provides an accessible, comprehensive look at Rome’s many overlapping layers of history in this landmark volume.
The first English-language book to tell Rome’s rich story through its maps, The Eternal City beautifully captures the past, present, and future of one of the most famous and enduring places on the planet.
Greater than Emperor charts the remarkable process by which Rome tried to forge a new civic identity, similar in constitution to contemporary city-republics but conceptually much greater. At the forefront of the process stood the idiosyncratic and astonishing young notary Cola di Rienzo. On May 21, 1347, Cola staged a bloodless coup. Rome entered a new age that would witness both the resurrection of the ancient power of the Empire and Rome's apotheosis as God's chosen city. Yet within seven months, the theatricality and violence of Cola's regime led to exile. Cola's triumphal return some years later ended in his assassination.
Cola was eventually resurrected as a hero of nineteenth-century nationalism, leaving the realities of Trecento Rome far behind. Yet it is only in terms of the very real models and methods that Cola welded together that his revolution can be understood.
Greater than Emperor describes Cola's reliance on the past of rhetoric, pageantry, and Roman law. It then discusses the future, tracing the dynamic contemporary influences of apocalyptic fervor, prophetic literature, and radical Franciscan imagery of Cola's world. Amanda Collins assesses Cola's legal and political career within both the complex mechanics of municipal administration and the multiple hierarchies of Roman society.
Amanda Collins offers a new assessment of the dramatic events of 1347 and an analysis of Cola within his late medieval Roman context. Bringing depth and substance to Cola's backdrop, Trecento Rome and the economic and spiritual ambitions of its citizen body, Collins provides information crucial to understanding the longer-term economic and political drive to civic autonomy in Rome before 1400.
Historians and generalists alike will relish the story of a remarkable individual, set within the cultural climate of a famous and fascinating city, during an often-overlooked period. This book sheds new light on a crucial political figure that brought a dazzling civil independence to Rome.
Amanda Collins held the Junior Research Fellowship in Intellectual History at Wolfson College, Oxford from 1997-2000, and has more recently been employed at the University of Sussex.
We live in a material world—our homes are filled with things, from electronics to curios and hand-me-downs, that disclose as much about us and our aspirations as they do about current trends. But we are not the first: the early modern period was a time of expanding consumption, when objects began to play an important role in defining gender as well as social status. Gusto for Things reconstructs the material lives of seventeenth-century Romans, exploring new ways of thinking about the meaning of things as a historical phenomenon.
Through creative use of account books, inventories, wills, and other records, Renata Ago examines early modern attitudes toward possessions, asking what people did with their things, why they wrote about them, and how they passed objects on to their heirs. While some inhabitants of Rome were connoisseurs of the paintings, books, and curiosities that made the city famous, Ago shows that men and women of lesser means also filled their homes with a more modest array of goods. She also discovers the genealogies of certain categories of things—for instance, books went from being classed as luxury goods to a category all their own—and considers what that reveals about the early modern era. An animated investigation into the relationship between people and the things they buy, Gusto for Things paints an illuminating portrait of the meaning of objects in preindustrial Europe.
Luigi Pirandello Duke University Press, 2000 Library of Congress PQ4835.I7S7713 2000 | Dewey Decimal 853.912
One of the twentieth century’s greatest literary artists and winner of the Nobel prize in 1934, Luigi Pirandello wrote the novel Her Husband in 1911, before he produced any of the well-known plays with which his name is most often associated today. Her Husband—translated here for the first time into English—is a profoundly entertaining work, by turns funny, bitingly satirical, and tinged with anguish. As important as any of the other works in Pirandello’s oeuvre, it portrays the complexities of male/female relations in the context of a newly emerging, small but vocal Italian feminist movement. Evoking in vivid detail the literary world in Rome at the turn of the century, Her Husband tells the story of Silvia Roncella, a talented young female writer, and her husband Giustino Boggiolo. The novel opens with their arrival in Rome after having left their provincial southern Italian hometown following the success of Silvia’s first novel, the rather humorously titled House of Dwarves. As his wife’s self-appointed (and self-important) promoter, protector, counselor, and manager, Giustino becomes the primary target of Pirandello’s satire. But the couple’s relationship—and their dual career—is also complicated by a lively supporting cast of characters, including literary bohemians with avant-garde pretensions and would-be aristocratic esthetes who are all too aware of the newly acquired power of journalists and the publishing establishment to make or break their careers. Having based many of the characters—including Silvia and Giustino—on actual literary acquaintances of his, Pirandello reacted to the novel’s controversial reception by not allowing it to be reprinted after the first printing sold out. Not until after his death were copies again made available in Italy. Readers will find Her Husband eerily evocative of the present in myriad ways—not the least of which is contemporary society’s ongoing transformation wrought by the changing roles of men and women, wives and husbands.
In 1798, the armies of the French Revolution tried to transform Rome from the capital of the Papal States to a Jacobin Republic. For the next two decades, Rome was the subject of power struggles between the forces of the Empire and the Papacy, while Romans endured the unsuccessful efforts of Napoleon’s best and brightest to pull the ancient city into the modern world. Against this historical backdrop, Nicassio weaves together an absorbing social, cultural, and political history of Rome and its people. Based on primary sources and incorporating two centuries of Italian, French, and international research, her work reveals what life was like for Romans in the age of Napoleon.
“A remarkable book that wonderfully vivifies an understudied era in the history of Rome. . . . This book will engage anyone interested in early modern cities, the relationship between religion and daily life, and the history of the city of Rome.”—Journal of Modern History
“An engaging account of Tosca’s Rome. . . . Nicassio provides a fluent introduction to her subject.”—History Today
“Meticulously researched, drawing on a host of original manuscripts, memoirs, personal letters, and secondary sources, enabling [Nicassio] to bring her story to life.”—History
Caesar Augustus promoted a modest image of himself as the first among equals (princeps), a characterization that was as popular with the ancient Romans as it is with many scholars today. Paul Rehak argues against this impression of humility and suggests that, like the monarchs of the Hellenistic age, Augustus sought immortality—an eternal glory gained through deliberate planning for his niche in history while flexing his existing power. Imperium and Cosmos focuses on Augustus’s Mausoleum and Ustrinum (site of his cremation), the Horologium-Solarium (a colossal sundial), and the Ara Pacis (Altar to Augustan Peace), all of which transformed the northern Campus Martius into a tribute to his major achievements in life and a vast memorial for his deification after death.
Rehak closely examines the artistic imagery on these monuments, providing numerous illustrations, tables, and charts. In an analysis firmly contextualized by a thorough discussion of the earlier models and motifs that inspired these Augustan monuments, Rehak shows how the princeps used these on such an unprecedented scale as to truly elevate himself above the common citizen.
Concern with memory permeated Roman literature, history, rhetorical training, and art and architecture. This is the first book to look at the phenomenon from a variety of perspectives, including cognitive science. There is no orthodoxy in memory studies and the approaches are both empirical and theoretical. A central issue is: who and what preserved and shaped cultural memory in Rome, and how did that process work? Areas and subjects covered include the Romans' view of the changing physical fabric of the city, monuments (by etymology related to memory) such as the Arch of Constantine, memory and the Roman triumph, Roman copies of Greek sculpture and their relation to memory, the importance of written information and of continuing process, the creation of memory in Republican memoirs and Flavian poetry, the invention of traditions, and the connection of cultural and digital memory.
The ten chapters present original findings that complement earlier scholarship from the perspective of memory and open up new horizons for inquiry. The introduction by volume editor Karl Galinsky situates the work within current studies on cultural and social memory, and the concluding chapter by Daniel Libeskind provides the perspective of a contemporary practitioner.
Additional contributors include Richard Jenkyns, Harriet I. Flower, T. P. Wiseman, Karl-J. Hölkeskamp, Gianpiero Rosati, Diane Favro, Jessica Hughes, Anna Anguissola, Lisa Marie Mignone, and Bernard Frischer.
The Aventine—one of Rome’s canonical seven hills—has long been identified as the city’s plebeian district, which housed the lower orders of society and served as the political headquarters, religious citadel, and social bastion of those seeking radical reform of the Republican constitution. Lisa Marie Mignone challenges the plebeian-Aventine paradigm through a multidisciplinary review of the ancient evidence, demonstrating that this construct proves to be a modern creation. Mignone uses ancient literary accounts, material evidence, and legal and semantic developments to reconstruct and reexamine the history of the Aventine Hill. Through comparative studies of premodern urban planning and development, combined with an assessment of gang violence and ancient neighborhood practices in the latter half of the first century BCE, she argues that there was no concentration of the disadvantaged in a “plebeian ghetto.” Thus residency patterns everywhere in the caput mundi, including the Aventine Hill, likely incorporated the full spectrum of Roman society.
The myth of the “plebeian Aventine” became embedded not only in classical scholarship, but also in modern political and cultural consciousness; it has even been used by modern figures to support their political agenda. Yet The Republican Aventine and Rome’s Social Order makes bold new claims regarding the urban design and social history of ancient Rome and raises a significant question about ancient urbanism and social stability more generally: Did social integration reduce violence in premodern cities and promote urban concord?
In 1420, after more than one hundred years of the Avignon Exile and the Western Schism, the papal court returned to Rome, which had become depopulated, dangerous, and impoverished in the papacy's absence. Reviving the Eternal City examines the culture of Rome and the papal court during the first half of the fifteenth century. As Elizabeth McCahill explains, during these decades Rome and the Curia were caught between conflicting realities--between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, between conciliarism and papalism, between an image of Rome as a restored republic and a dream of the city as a papal capital.
Through the testimony of humanists' rhetorical texts and surviving archival materials, McCahill reconstructs the niche that scholars carved for themselves as they penned vivid descriptions of Rome and offered remedies for contemporary social, economic, religious, and political problems. In addition to analyzing the humanists' intellectual and professional program, McCahill investigates the different agendas that popes Martin V (1417-1431) and Eugenius IV (1431-1447) and their cardinals had for the post-Schism pontificate. Reviving the Eternal City illuminates an urban environment in transition and explores the ways in which curialists collaborated and competed to develop Rome's ancient legacy into a potent cultural myth.
The Roman Forum
David Watkin Harvard University Press, 2009 Library of Congress DG66.5.W38 2009 | Dewey Decimal 945.632
One of the most visited sites in Italy, the Roman Forum is also one of the best-known wonders of the Roman world. David Watkin sheds completely new light on the Forum, examining the roles of the ancient remains while revealing what exactly the standing structures embody - including the rarely studied medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque churches, as well as the nearby monuments that have important histories of their own.
Featuring essays by twelve prominent American literature scholars, Roman Holidaysexplores the tradition of American travel to Italy and makes a significant contribution to the understanding of nineteenth-century American encounters with Italian culture and, more specifically, with Rome.
The increase in American travel to Italy during the nineteenth century was partly a product of improved conditions of travel. As suggested in the title, Italy served nineteenth-century writers and artists as a kind of laboratory site for encountering Others and “other” kinds of experience. No doubt Italy offered a place of holiday—a momentary escape from the familiar—but the journey to Rome, a place urging upon the visitor a new and more complex sense of history, also forced a reexamination of oneself and one's identity. Writers and artists found their religious, political, and sexual assumptions challenged.
Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Marble Faun has a prominent place in this collection: as Henry James commented in his study of Hawthorne, the book was “part of the intellectual equipment of the Anglo-Saxon visitor to Rome.” The essayists also examine works by James, Fuller, Melville, Douglass, Howells, and other writers as well as such sculptors as Hiram Powers, William Wetmore Story, and Harriet Hosmer.
Bringing contemporary concerns about gender, race, and class to bear upon nineteenth-century texts, Roman Holidays is an especially timely contribution to nineteenth-century American studies.
Rome: A City out of Print
Rose Marie San Juan University of Minnesota Press, 2001 Library of Congress DG807.6.S26 2001 | Dewey Decimal 937
An intriguing look at what printed materials tell us about daily life and public space in seventeenth-century Rome.
Focusing on images and descriptions of movement and spectacle-everyday street activities, congregations in market piazzas, life in the Jewish ghetto and the plague hospital, papal and other ceremonial processions, public punishment, and pilgrimage routes-Rose Marie San Juan uncovers the social tensions and conflicts within seventeenth century Roman society that are both concealed within and prompted by mass-produced representations of the city. These depictions of Rome-guidebooks, street posters, broadsheets and brochures, topographic and thematic maps, city views, and collectible images of landmarks and other famous sights-redefined the ways in which public space was experienced, controlled, and utilized, encouraging tourists, pilgrims, and penitents while constraining the activities and movements of women, merchants, dissidents, and Jews.
San Juan contends that the representations of urban space afforded by new print technologies were appropriated by a wide variety of people in the city for purposes that ranged from regulation to opposition. A sophisticated analysis of the contested relations between people, print culture, and urban modernity, Rome: A City Out of Print also offers a rich portrait of the life of the street and the city.
Rose Marie San Juan is associate professor in the Department of Art History, Visual Art, and Theory at the University of British Columbia.
Rome from the Ground Up
James H. S. McGregor Harvard University Press, 2006 Library of Congress DG806.2.M4 2005 | Dewey Decimal 7114094563
Rome is not one city but many, each with its own history unfolding from a different center: now the trading port on the Tiber; now the Forum of antiquity; the Palatine of imperial power; the Lateran Church of Christian ascendancy; the Vatican; the Quirinal palace. Beginning with the very shaping of the ground on which Rome first rose, this book conjures all these cities, past and present, conducting the reader through time and space to the complex and shifting realities—architectural, historical, political, and social—that constitute Rome.
A multifaceted historical portrait, this richly illustrated work is as gritty as it is gorgeous, immersing readers in the practical world of each period. James H. S. McGregor’s explorations afford the pleasures of a novel thick with characters and plot twists: amid the life struggles, hopes, and failures of countless generations, we see how things truly worked, then and now; we learn about the materials of which Rome was built; of the Tiber and its bridges; of roads, aqueducts, and sewers; and, always, of power, especially the power to shape the city and imprint it with a particular personality—like that of Nero or Trajan or Pope Sixtus V—or a particular institution.
McGregor traces the successive urban forms that rulers have imposed, from emperors and popes to national governments including Mussolini’s. And, in archaeologists’ and museums’ presentation of Rome’s past, he shows that the documenting of history itself is fraught with power and politics. In McGregor’s own beautifully written account, the power and politics emerge clearly, manifest in the distinctive styles and structures, practical concerns and aesthetic interests that constitute the myriad Romes of our day and days past.
Biondo Flavio was a pioneering figure in the Renaissance discovery of antiquity and popularized the term Middle Age to describe the period between the fall of the Roman Empire and the revival of antiquity in his own time. Rome in Triumph is the capstone of his research program, addressing the question: What made Rome great?
At the turn of the fifteenth century, Rome was in the midst of a dramatic transformation from what the fourteenth-century poet Petrarch had termed a “crumbling city” populated by “broken ruins” into a prosperous Christian capital. Scholars, artists, architects, and engineers fascinated by Rome were spurred to develop new graphic modes for depicting the city—and the genre known as the city portrait exploded.
In Rome Measured and Imagined, Jessica Maier explores the history of this genre—which merged the accuracy of scientific endeavor with the imaginative aspects of art—during the rise of Renaissance print culture. Through an exploration of works dating from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, her book interweaves the story of the city portrait with that of Rome itself.
Highly interdisciplinary and beautifully illustrated with nearly one hundred city portraits, Rome Measured and Imagined advances the scholarship on Renaissance Rome and print culture in fascinating ways.
Part memoir, part literary criticism, part culinary and aesthetic travelogue, this loving reflection is a poignant, funny narrative about an American professor spending a year in Rome. A scarred veteran of academic culture wars retreating to a cradle of culture, Barkan is at first hungry, lonely, and uncertain of his intellectual mission. But soon he is appointed unofficial mascot of an eccentric community of gastronomes, becomes virtually bilingual, and falls in love. As the year progresses, he finds his voice as a writer, loses his lover, and definitively returns to America with heart, mind, and body. His memoir is the celebration of a life lived in the uncanny spaces where art and real people intersect.
Barkan’s reminiscence is not just about the Renaissance and ancient statuary, or Shakespeare and Mozart, Charles Bukowski and Paul de Man, eggplant antipasto and Brunello di Montalcino, foot fetishism and sulfur baths. At the heart of the narrative—beneath that beguiling surface of irony, humor, and misdirection—is a man of genuine ardor, struggling with what it means to be a homosexual and a Jew, trying to rediscover or reinvent his own intellectual passions. Hilarious, erudite, and lusciously rendered, Satyr Square gives us the whole of a life made up from fragments of Italy, art, food, and longing.
John David Rhodes places the city of Rome at the center of this original and in-depth examination of the work of Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini—but it’s not the classical Rome you imagine. Stupendous, Miserable City situates Pasolini within the history of twentieth-century Roman urban development. The book focuses first on the Fascist period, when populations were moved out of the urban center and into public housing on the periphery of the city, called the borgate, and then turns to the progressive social housing experiments of the 1950s. These environments were the settings of most of Pasolini’s films of the early to mid-1960s.
Discussing films such as Accattone, Mamma Roma, and The Hawks and the Sparrows, Rhodes shows how Pasolini used the borgate to critique Roman urban planning and neorealism and to draw attention to the contemptuous treatment of Rome’s poor. To Pasolini, the borgate, rich in human incident, linguistic difference, and squalor, “were life”—and now his passion can be appreciated fully for the first time.
Carefully tracing Pasolini’s surprising engagement with this part of Rome and looking beyond his films to explore the interrelatedness of all of Pasolini’s artistic output in the 1950s and 1960s—including his poetry, fiction, and journalism—Rhodes opens up completely new ways of understanding Pasolini’s work and proves how connected Pasolini was to the political and social upheavals in Italy at the time.
John David Rhodes is lecturer in literature and visual culture at the University of Sussex.
D'Elia offers a compelling, surprising story that reveals a Renaissance world that witnessed the rebirth of interest in the classics, a thriving homoerotic culture, the clash of Christian and pagan values, the contest between republicanism and a papal monarchy, and tensions separating Christian Europeans and Muslim Turks.
Tiber: Eternal River of Rome
Bruce Ware Allen University Press of New England, 2018 Library of Congress DG975.T5A45 2019 | Dewey Decimal 945.632
In this rich history of Italy’s Tiber River, Bruce Ware Allen charts the main currents, mythic headwaters, and hidden tributaries of one of the world’s most renowned waterways. He considers life along the river, from its twin springs high in the Apennines all the way to its mouth at Ostia, and describes the people who lived along its banks and how they made the Tiber work for them. The Tiber has served as the realm of protomythic creatures and gods, a battleground for armies and navies, a livelihood for boatmen and fishermen, the subject matter of poets and painters, and the final resting place for criminals and martyrs. Tiber: Eternal River of Rome is a highly readable history and a go-to resource for information about Italy’s most storied river.
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