Cover

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Title Page, Series Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

A number of these chapters first appeared in Italian and are published here in English for the first time: chapter 1 first appeared as "Nabucco," in Conferenze 1966-1967 (Associazione amici della Scala) (Milan, n.d.), 15—47; chapter 2 as "Verdi e il Don Giovanni. Osservazioni sulla scena iniziale del Rigoletto," in Atti delprimo congresso internazionale di studi verdiani (Parma, 1969), ...

A Note on Italian Prosody

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pp. ix-x

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Introduction

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pp. 3-7

This volume contains a series of essays whose primary subject is musical theater. More precisely: in the following pages facts and problems are centered around that strange, indeed unique, phenomenon of Western civilization in which drama, poetry, music, and spectacle join together to create what is generally known as opera. ...

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1. From Rossini's Mosé to Verdi's Nabucco

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pp. 8-33

To introduce Nabucco, to illustrate even a few of its musico-dramatic characteristics, entails comparison with preceding and contemporary operatic production: we need to define what in this opera is typical of Verdi's style, to distinguish what is not Verdian. ...

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2. Verdi and Don Giovanni: On the Opening Scene of Rigoletto

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pp. 34-47

By general agreement, Rigoletto is the first work of Verdi's artistic maturity, the opera in which he fully realized for the first time his musicodramatic conception, in which a Verdian "style" (in the broadest sense of that term) finally came into its own and assumed its true features. ...

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3. Remarks on Verdi's Composing Process

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pp. 48-74

To varying degrees and in more-or-less obvious ways, Verdi studies have until recently been much influenced—and are in part still influenced— by the manner in which the composer wanted his life and works to be considered. ...

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4. Thoughts for Alzira

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pp. 75-99

The compositional process—the activity through which a composer organizes and develops his musical ideas in order to reach the definitive form of a work of art—is closely connected to the artist's poetics; or, more precisely, it is a direct consequence and manifestation of it. ...

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5. Toward an Explanation of the Dramatic Structure of Il trovatore

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pp. 100-112

With these words Alfred Einstein concluded the section on Verdi in his "Opus Ultimum," an essay that explores the very last work of each of the major figures of music history. Perhaps the great musicologist, whose penetrating insights were equaled only by his ability to capture the essence of a genre or a historical moment, ...

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6. Music in the Theater (apropos of Aida, Act III)

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pp. 113-126

In opera various "systems" work together, each according to its own nature and laws, and the result of the combination is much greater than the sum of the individual forces. In this essay I wish to discuss the interaction of the three main systems—dramatic action, verbal organization, and music. ...

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7. More on the Three "Systems": The First Act of La forza del destino

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pp. 127-140

In musical theater, three "systems" of communication act simultaneously, each operating in accordance with its own nature and laws. Their combination, however, is something more than their sum total or simple juxtaposition. These "systems" are: ...

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8. Verdi's Musical Thought: An Example from Macbeth

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pp. 141-152

I should first clarify the terms of the discussion; what I mean by musical thought when writing about a composer such as Verdi, whose production—at least to a casual observer—will suggest no association with either philosophical matters or cultural movements (and still less with manifestos): a body of work that even today is often referred to as "popular," ...

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9. The Musico-Dramatic Conception of Gluck's Alceste (1767)

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pp. 153-161

Alceste holds a rather unusual place in the history of music. The preface οf the opera, signed by Gluck and written under the strong influence of Calzabigi, is cited time and again;1 but interest in the prose that precedes the printed score is not matched by an equally lively concern for what follows—the opera itself. Why is this? ...

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10. Notes on Bellini's Poetics: Apropos of l puritani

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pp. 162-175

Critical evaluation of that aspect of Italian culture usually called melodramma—the operas written by nineteenth-century Italian composers—represents a vast, unexplored territory for musicology. This statement might perhaps seem paradoxical given the extent of the repertory and its amazing, ever-increasing vitality ...

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11. Bellini and Paisiello: Further Documents on the Birth of I puritani

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pp. 176-192

The creation of a work of art may sometimes remain mysterious because of lack of information on the compositional act that gave it birth. When documents exist, however, they can illuminate the various phases through which the opera took its final shape: the basic criteria, the working method, the ideas and decisions that the author established during the creative act. ...