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Reviews397 production history of Shakespeare is often not integrated with recent historical and theoretical work in theater history. This book's main value is as a reference source for scores and musical analysis of the music played in Shakespeare productions rather than as an analytical discussion of the relations between the musical, textual, and performance history of Shakespeare. Nevertheless, the breadth of research and also the many scores make the work a valuable contribution to the history of Shakespeare production as well as to musicology. ANNE RUSSELL Wilfrid Laurier University Pierluigi Petrobelli. Music in the Theater: Essays on Verdi and Other Composers. Translated by Roger Parker. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994. Pp. ix + 192. $39.50. "Collected essays"—even those produced by distinguished senior scholars like Pierluigi Petrobelli, who is Professor of Music at the University of Rome and Director of the Parmesan Verdi Institute, are often ungainly potpourris. This example of the species is more than usually peculiar, and rather aged for a field of musicology so busy of late (most pieces are over a decade old—some twice that, and one of the two brief "new" entries was a 1980 conference paper). And some of the articles leave sufficiently nagging dissatisfactions to make one wonder why the author did not choose simply to expand, revise, and bring them up to date. Despite its tantalizingly general title and its overarching, fairly obvious thesis (that opera consists of the "interaction of three main systems—dramatic action, verbal organization, and music" [p. 113]), the volume tends to focus extensively on brief passages from arcane operas or on minor passages from the standard repertory. If there were more essays like the cogent one that lends its title to the book—a study of the powerful opening scene of Aida's third act—one might be more grateful for this collection. However, in search of clues to successive stages in Verdi's habits of operatic construction, Petrobelli devotes two long essays to a four-page manuscript (in the Museum at Busseto) of a fleeting recitative in / due Foscari and to a single folio-page sketch (in a Viennese library) of the conclusion to the prologue of Alzira. The fault is not the author's. His game and penetrating analysis of material of marginal interest is rather a melancholy reminder of how much Verdi scholarship has suffered in the last several decades from the notorious (and quite Verdian) inclemency of his descendants toward scholars and their stinginess of access to his preliminary compositional manuscripts. "We know that . . . sketches exist for all the Verdi operas from Luisa Miller onward," says Petrobelli, without naming the villains, and it is 398Comparative Drama clearly a cause for great rue that he and his fellow Verdi scholars have not yet been able to apply to the canon's noble post-LWi'sa works such potent analytical skills as are demonstrated here. (Only the sketch for Rigoletto has appeared in facsimile, back in 1941.) The efficacy of a few essays could be debated. The longest and earliest one (1967) argues elaborately and with extensive musical quotations the unsurprising thesis that the formulaic opening chorus-and-prophet scene of Nabucco (1842) owes much to Rossini's Mose (French version, 1827). Petrobelli then unwisely admits to making no reference to "the dominating character of Abigaille," who, he intriguingly asserts, "possesses the first true female emotions delineated by Verdi" (p. 29). A small essay urges unexceptionably the similarities between the deployment of the stage band in the party scene at the end of Don Giovanni's first act and in the festive opening of Rigoletto, then ventures the dubious notion that Verdi's minuet is "a quotation" of Mozart's (p. 36). Two studies of the gestation of Bellini's Ipuritani contain illuminating quotations from the composer's letters and interesting insights into his characteristic dramaturgy. But the first is marred by a failure to describe with sufficient clarity the source play from which the libretto was drawn; the second argues Bellini's debt to another work, Paisiello's La Nina, also lost in oblivion and insufficiently described. The fundamental accomplishment of this collection is its demonstration , through rigorous close analysis, of "Verdi...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 397-399
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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