Cover

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Title Page, Other Works in the Series, Copyright, Dedication, Epigraphs

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Contents

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pp. ix-x

Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

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Chapter One: On Reaching the Beguiled Shore

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pp. 3-19

The final stages of this book were completed in a tiny third-floor room on the south coast of England. I look out onto a suburban landscape, a busy road, a tennis club beyond. As I stare from the window—which I do all too often—my sense of two peripheral objects alters the view. ...

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Chapter Two: "Va pensiero" and the Insidious Mastery of Song

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pp. 20-41

Nabucco (first performed at La Scala, Milan, in March 1842) has always held a special position among Verdi's early operas; and the reason for this placing may tell us something important about critical attitudes toward the composer and his work.1 The case of Nabucco, the particular circumstances of its privileged status, may be stated plainly. ...

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Chapter Three: "Insolite forme," or Basevi's Garden Path

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pp. 42-60

How can we (how do we) analyze Verdi? The question might to some seem immediately anachronistic: the laying of one age's preoccupations and aesthetic concerns—in this case, a desire to configure musical works by means of essentially abstract narrative patterns—onto the now quite distant past. ...

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Chapter Four: Leonora's Last Act: La forza del destino

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pp. 61-99

As has been hinted more than once in this book, opera is the most richly texted music we study within the academy: it is collaborative, and thus produces copious amounts of text during its creation; its music is accompanied by a literary text, one that commonly derives from an earlier, independent text; ...

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Chapter Five: Falstaff and Verdi's Final Narratives

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pp. 100-125

The photograph reproduced in figure 5.1 dates from the summer of 1892, about six months before the premiere of Verdi's last opera, Falstaff. It presents to the world a familiar, much repeated image, a kind of "personal uniform."1 ...

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Chapter Six: Reading the livrets, or the Chimera of "Authentic" Staging

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pp. 126-148

In that weighty, ongoing monument to Verdi's composerly intentions, the critical edition of his works, each volume contains a preface that sets out what we might call a basic philosophy. These prefaces, which change little from volume to volume, talk at proper length and in proper detail about the musical text, ...

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Chapter Seven: Lina Kneels; Gilda Sings

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pp. 149-167

At the close of a recent article about newly emerged sketches for Verdi's Stiffelio, Philip Gossett presents what most operatic critics would admit is a highly charged fragment of music (see example 7.1). Gossett himself glosses it as having "profound implications for our understanding of Verdi's treatment ...

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Chapter Eight: Leonora's Last Act: Il trovatore

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pp. 168-187

Not, I think, exclusively inspired by her recently trumpeted status as the first overtly sapphic cult diva, I have found myself listening to Kathleen Ferrier again recently.1 For my generation, Ferrier existed only as a recording artist; she died, aged forty-one, in 1953. ...

About the Author

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p. 188