Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Title page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. v-vi

read more

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. vii

Most of the essays printed here were first presented at a conference on opera libretti held at Cornell University in October 1986. Other presen tations at the conference will appear elsewhere: Herbert Lindenberger, "Opera as Historical Drama: La demenza di Tito, Khovanshchina, and Moses und Arori"; Harold S. Powers, "Metastasio into melodramma"; ...

read more

Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-11

The fact that this collection of essays is devoted to opera libretti of the later nineteenth century may necessitate a few introductory remarks. Most people familiar with opera have read a libretto, and many of these share the widespread opinion mentioned by The New Grove: The study of librettos was for a long time neglected by historians of opera and oratorio, and it has generally been taken for granted that the vast majority of them...

read more

Appropriation in Wagner's Tristan Libretto

ARTHUR GROOS

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 12-33

Opera libretti traditionally have a more uncertain status than conventional literary texts, in part because their genesis as well as their reception involve them in a different complex of considerations. Literary critics and musicologists frequently isolate two different relationships in discussing nineteenth-century libretti: that between the literary source and the libretto, and that between the libretto and its music. The relative emphasis within and between these relationships has of course changed during the history of opera, but for...

read more

Boito and F.-V. Hugo's "Magnificent Translation": A Study in the Genesis of the Otello Libretto

JAMES A. HEPOKOSKI

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 34-59

Arrigo Boito's libretto for Otello is a complex, multilayered document, the antithesis of a "spontaneous" work of art. It is the product of a slowly and carefully created first draft dating from the Summer and Autumn of 1879, which was followed by seven years of sporadic plot and text revisions, most of them undertaken at Verdi's request.1 Surely no other com ...

read more

An Unseen Player: Destiny in Pelléas et Mélisande

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 60-91

The most important member of the dramatis personae in Maurice Maeterlinck's Pelttas et Milisande, as in all eight of his Symbolist dramas, is "La Destinee." She, or It, never utters a word or appears, but her insistent presence is conveyed by every means at Maeterlinck's command. The hallmarks of the text—the Marchen-like milieu, sparse actions, and tragic denouement—are conceived...

read more

The Origins of Italian Literaturoper: Guglielmo Ratcliff, La Figlia di Iorio, Parisina, and Francesca da Rimini

JURGEN MAEHDER

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 92-128

It is generally acknowledged that a profound crisis afflicted the venerable occupation of libretto-writing at the beginning of the twentieth century. Signs of this crisis become obvious before 1900, and involve mostly Russian, French, and German opera. Its origins have been carefully studied in relation to the musical language in various European cultures—but with the seemingly natural exception of Italy, where the art of librettowriting and the tradition of texts conceived exclusively for musical setting were more firmly rooted...

read more

Erik's Dream and Tannhäuser's Journey

CAROLYN ABBATE

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 129-167

In the second scene of Wagner's Der fliegende Hollander, the hunter Erik tells Daland's daughter Senta of an "ill-fated dream": how Erik dreamt of a sea-captain, how the sea-captain and Senta departed together "over the ocean." In Act III of Tannhduser Wolfram von Eschenbach demands from Tannhauser the full story of his pilgrimage to Rome; Tannhauser ...

read more

The Languages of Love in Carmen

NELLY FURMAN

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 168-183

In August 1983, the French weekly magazine he Nouvel Observateur de voted its lead article to the figure of Carmen, thus acknowledging the return of the nineteenth-century gypsy as a genuine news item in our time. he Nouvel Observateur was taking note of the fact that in 1983 there had been four major revivals of the story of Carmen: Italian director Fran ...

read more

How to Avoid Believing (While Reading Iago's "Credo")

KATHERINE BERGERON

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 184-199

The "text of pleasure," imagines Roland Barthes at the start of his Le Plaisir du texte, "is a sanctioned Babel," a place where the reader "gains access to bliss by the cohabitation of languages working side by side."1 If such confusion of tongues be the stuff of pleasure, one could hardly find a greater source of gratification than the text of an opera. More than just the libretto, the complete text of an opera represents an animated encounter of words, music...

read more

The Numinous in Götterdämmerung

CHRISTOPHER WINTLE

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 200-234

In his Reflections of a Non-political Man, that loyal but unfaithful Wagnerian Thomas Mann gave an account of an embattled open-air concert held in Rome in the late 1890s. The music was Wagner's "lament for the fallen Siegfried," and the players the municipal orchestra under "the champion of German music in Rome," Maestro Vessella: The piazza is crammed...

read more

Musorgsky's Libretti on Historical Themes: From the Two Borises to Khovanshchina

CARYL EMERSON

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 235-267

Over one hundred years ago—in February 1886—an amateur music group in Petersburg staged the premiere performance of Musorgsky's Khovanshchina.1, Both the music and the libretto in this production differed profoundly from the piano-vocal score that Musorgsky had left incomplete at the time of his death five years earlier. This fact in itself should occasion no surprise; re-...

read more

Boito and the 1868 Mefistofele Libretto as a Reform Text

WILLIAM ASHBROOK

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 268-287

Even with the hindsight of 120 years, it is difficult to conceive that the publication and circulation of an opera libretto could be the focus of a notable controversy that would have a whole city talking and taking sides. To understand the impact of Boito's original libretto for Mefistofele, with all its implications for reform, we need to have some picture of the circumstances that halted...

read more

On Reading Nineteenth-Century Opera: Verdi through the Looking-Glass

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 288-305

Early in the nineteenth century, Jerome-Joseph de Momigny, a Belgian musical theorist and composer little known today except to historians of musical analysis, published a Cours complet d'hartnonie et de composition. 1 Toward the end of his first volume, Momigny offers a lengthy discussion of Mozart's String Quartet in D minor, K.421. His remarks have been noted more than once in recent years, and particular attention has been given to the manner...

read more

Strauss and the Pervert

SANDER L. GILMAN

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 306-327

The following essay poses a series of questions about the social context of an opera libretto, a composer's intention in selecting a theme, and the cultural significance of setting a text to music. Its object will be one of the most popular operas of the fin de siecle, Richard Strauss's Salome, first performed at the Dresden Opera on 9 December 1905. My contention is ...

read more

A Deconstructive Postscript: Reading Libretti and Misreading Opera

PAUL ROBINSON

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 328-346

My observations here are intended as a polemical dissent from certain assumptions informing the essays in this collection and, indeed, inform ing most operatic criticism that I have read. I take it as axiomatic that polemics should overstate the case, seeking to disturb or provoke, where a more balanced expression of opinion might pass relatively unnoticed. ...

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 347-352