Opera: A History in Documents / Edition 1

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In Opera: A History in Documents, Piero Weiss presents a wide-ranging, vivid, and carefully researched tour of operatic history. A unique anthology of primary source material, this survey includes 115 chronologically organized selections—passages from private letters, public decrees, descriptions of first performances, portions of libretti, literary criticism and satire, newspaper reviews and articles, and poetry and fiction—from opera's late Renaissance infancy through modern times. This first-hand testimony allows students to experience the history of opera as eyewitnesses, offering an immediacy and validity unmatched by standard histories. Readers are transported to a Medici wedding in sixteenth-century Florence, to the Haymarket Theatre for a performance of Handel's Rinaldo, to Mozart at work on Die Entführung aus dem Serail, and to Bertolt Brecht's writing desk, among many other landmarks in opera's history. Weiss expertly guides students, providing highly accessible headnotes to each selection that both contextualize the excerpts and position them within the broader historical narrative. In addition, he offers original translations of more than half of the selections in the book, many of which appear here in English for the first time. Stage settings, costumes, portraits, contemporary playbills, and other illustrations enliven the text and help to recreate the feel of the era under discussion. Opera: A History in Documents is an intrinsically lively text that will enrich college courses on opera and delight any music-loving reader.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Weiss's extraordinary selection of documents includes some wonderful illustrations in addition to substantial excerpts from letters, prefaces, pamphlets, and even libretti. . . . This volume is a priceless addition to the literature, and the pages of my copy are already dog-eared from constant use."—Music and Letters
Library Journal
Beginning with the Intermedio, which was performed at a Medici wedding in 1589, and ending with John Adams's 1987 Nixon in China, this book provides a novel view of dozens of operas over the centuries. The author, a noted scholar and authority on the history of opera who chairs the musicology department at the Johns Hopkins Peabody Conservatory, illuminates the history of opera through documents, each presented in historical context. His selection of documents includes letters, diary accounts, critical notices, playbills, and libretto excerpts that highlight fascinating aspects of the works and their performances, as well as the era in which they originated. We learn, for example, what Stendhal thought of Rossini's Barber of Seville, as well as Tchaikovsky's own thoughts on Eugene Onegin and Mozart's first ideas about his Marriage of Figaro. Opera lovers will be delighted at this new and excellent source of information and insight. Recommended for public and academic libraries. Timothy J. McGee, Univ. of Toronto Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195116380
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/21/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,272,504
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Piero Weiss is Chair of the Musicology Department at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Table of Contents

1. The Medici Wedding Festivities of 1589 (de' Rossi)
2. Pietro Bardi on the Birth of Opera
3. L'Euridice, the Second Opera (Buonarroti, Rinuccini, Peri, Caccini)
4. Cavalieri's Rappresentatione di anima, et di corpo (Guidotti, Cavalieri)
5. Monteverdi Criticizes a Libretto
6. Sant'Alessio at the Barberini Palace, Rome (Rospigliosi, Bouchard)
7. Opera Comes to Venice and Goes Public (Ivanovich)
8. Lully is Granted a Monopoly on Opera in French (Colbert, Lully)
9. The Grand Siècle Absorbs the Tragédie en musique (Perrault, La Fontaine, Boileau)
10. Saint-Évremond's Views on Opera
11. The First English Operas (Dryden)
12. Handel's Rinaldo at the Haymarket Theatre (Hill, G. Rossi, Addison, Steele)
13. Pier Jacopo Martello on Opera (1715)
14. The Président de Bosses in Italy (1739)
15. Metastasio on Setting Dramatic Recitative to Music
16. From Rousseau's Confessions
17. The War of the Buffoons (d'Holbach)
Interlude: A Traveling Company (G. Gozzi)
18. Operatic Reform in Vienna: Gluck and Calzabigi
19. Gluck in Paris (Meister)
20. Mozart at Work on Die Entführung aus dem Serail
21. Grétry's Richard Coeur-de-Lion (Meister, Grétry)
22. The Making of Le nozze di Figaro (L. and W.A. Mozart, Da Ponte)
23. Kierkegaard's Don Giovanni
24. Fidelio in 1806 (Röckel)
25. Berlioz's Estimate of Spontini
26. E. T. A. Hoffman on "Music Drama That Springs from the Heart"
27. The First Performance of Il barbiere di Siviglia (Righetti-Giorgi)
28. Der Freischütz: A German Triumph (M. M. von Weber)
29. Parisian Grand Opera: Auber's La Muette de Portici as Seen by Wagner
Interlude: Madame Pasta (Hunt)
30. Verdi's Own Story of How Nabucco Was Composed
31. Verdi's Operatic Style Analyzed by a Contemporary (Basevi)
32. Wagner on the Evolution of his Style
33. Wagner's Theory of Drama
34. Divergent Reactions to Boris Godunov (Laroche, Stasov)
35. Tchaikovsky on Eugene Onegin
36. Nietzsche vs. Wagner
37. Verdi's Otello (Boito, Verdi, Morelli)
Interlude: Verdi and Wagner in Vienna (J. Sulzer)
38. Verismo (Verga)
39. Four Men at Work on La bohème (Illica, Puccini, Ricordi, Giacosa)
40. Pelléas et Mélisande (Mauclair, journalist, Debussy)
41. Strauss and Hofmannsthal Work on Der Rosenkavalier
42. Duke Bluebeard's Castle (Ballász)
43. Busoni and the Reinstatement of Disbelief
44. In Defense of Kát'a Kabanová (Stuart)
45. Alban Berg on Wozzeck
46. Brecht on "Epic Opera"
47. Shostakovich and the Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk Debacle (Shostakovich, Pravda)
Interlude: An Italian Claque (Montale)
48. Peter Grimes in Postwar London (Edm. Wilson)
49. Stravinsky, Auden, and The Rake's Progress
50. A First Reaction to Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites (Mila)
51. Einstein on the Beach by Philip Glass (Page)
52. John Adams on Nixon in China

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