Princeton University Press

Princeton Studies in Opera

Published by: Princeton University Press

Go

Browse Books in Series:

Princeton Studies in Opera

1 2 NEXT next

Results 1-10 of 14

:
:
restricted access This search result is for a Book

Ballet and Opera in the Age of "Giselle"

Marian Smith

Marian Smith recaptures a rich period in French musical theater when ballet and opera were intimately connected. Focusing on the age of Giselle at the Paris Opéra (from the 1830s through the 1840s), Smith offers an unprecedented look at the structural and thematic relationship between the two genres. She argues that a deeper understanding of both ballet and opera--and of nineteenth-century theater-going culture in general--may be gained by examining them within the same framework instead of following the usual practice of telling their histories separately. This handsomely illustrated book ultimately provides a new portrait of the Opéra during a period long celebrated for its box-office successes in both genres.

Smith begins by showing how gestures were encoded in the musical language that composers used in ballet and in opera. She moves on to a wide range of topics, including the relationship between the gestures of the singers and the movements of the dancers, and the distinction between dance that represents dancing (entertainment staged within the story of the opera) and dance that represents action. Smith maintains that ballet-pantomime and opera continued to rely on each other well into the nineteenth century, even as they thrived independently. The "divorce" between the two arts occurred little by little, and may be traced through unlikely sources: controversies in the press about the changing nature of ballet-pantomime music, shifting ideas about originality, complaints about the ridiculousness of pantomime, and a little-known rehearsal score for Giselle.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

The Culture of Opera Buffa in Mozart's Vienna

A Poetics of Entertainment

Mary Hunter

Mozart's comic operas are among the masterworks of Western civilization, and yet the musical environment in which Mozart and his librettist Lorenzo da Ponte wrote these now-popular operas has received little critical attention. In this richly detailed book, Mary Hunter offers a sweeping, synthetic view of opera buffa in the lively theatrical world of late-eighteenth-century Vienna. Opera buffa (Italian-language comic opera) persistently entertained audiences at a time when Joseph was striving for a German national theater. Hunter attributes opera buffa's success to its ability to provide "sheer" pleasure and hence explores how the genre functioned as entertainment. She argues that opera buffa, like mainstream film today, projects a social world both recognizable and distinct from reality. It raises important issues while containing them in the "merely entertaining" frame of the occasion, as well as presenting them as a series of easily identifiable dramatic and musical conventions.

Exploring nearly eighty comic operas, Hunter shows how the arias and ensembles convey a multifaceted picture of the repertory's social values and habits. In a concluding chapter, she discusses Cos" fan tutte as a work profoundly concerned with the conventions of its repertory and with the larger idea of convention itself and reveals the ways Mozart and da Ponte pointedly converse with their immediate contemporaries.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

In Search of Opera

Carolyn Abbate

In her new book, Carolyn Abbate considers the nature of operatic performance and the acoustic images of performance present in operas from Monteverdi to Ravel. Paying tribute to music's realization by musicians and singers, she argues that operatic works are indelibly bound to the contingency of live singing, playing, and staging. She seeks a middle ground between operas as abstractions and performance as the phenomenon that brings opera into being.

Weaving between opera's "facts of life" and a series of works including The Magic Flute, Parsifal, and Pelléas, Abbate explores a spectrum of attitudes towards musical performance, which range from euphoric visions of singers as creators to uncanny images of musicians as lifeless objects that have been resuscitated by scripts. In doing so, she touches upon several critical issues: the Wagner problem; coloratura, virtuosity, and their critics; the implications of disembodied voice in opera and film; mechanical music; the mortality of musical sound; and opera's predilection for scenes positing mysterious unheard music. An intersection between transcendence and intense physical grounding, she asserts, is a quintessential element of the genre, one source of the rapture that operas and their singers can engender in listeners.

In Search of Opera mediates between an experience of opera that can be passionate and intuitive, and an intellectual engagement with opera as a complicated aesthetic phenomenon. Marrying philosophical speculation to historical detail, Abbate contemplates a central dilemma: the ineffability of music and the diverse means by which a fugitive art is best expressed in words. All serious devotees of opera will want to read this imaginative book by s music-critical virtuoso.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Leonora's Last Act

Essays in Verdian Discourse

Roger Parker

In these essays, Roger Parker brings a series of valuable insights to bear on Verdian analysis and criticism, and does so in a way that responds both to an opera-goer's love of musical drama and to a scholar's concern for recent critical trends. As he writes at one point: "opera challenges us by means of its brash impurity, its loose ends and excess of meaning, its superfluity of narrative secrets." Verdi's works, many of which underwent drastic revisions over the years and which sometimes bore marks of an unusual collaboration between composer and librettist, illustrate in particular why it can sometimes be misleading to assign fixed meanings to an opera. Parker instead explores works like Rigoletto, Il trovatore, La forza del destino, and Falstaff from a variety of angles, and addresses such contentious topics as the composer's involvement with Italian politics, the possibilities of an "authentic" staging of his work, and the advantages and pitfalls of analyzing his operas according to terms that his contemporaries might have understood.

Parker takes into account many of the interdisciplinary influences currently engaging musicologists, in particular narrative and feminist theory. But he also demonstrates that close attention to the documentary evidence--especially that offered by autograph scores--can stimulate equal interpretive activity. This book serves as a model of research and critical thinking about opera, while nevertheless retaining a deep respect for opera's continuing power to touch generations of listeners.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Mad Loves

Women and Music in Offenbach's "Les Contes d'Hoffmann"

Heather Hadlock

In a lively exploration of Jacques Offenbach's final masterpiece, Heather Hadlock shows how Les Contes d'Hoffmann summed up not only the composer's career but also a century of Romantic culture. A strange fusion of irony and profundity, frivolity and nightmare, the opera unfolds as a series of dreamlike episodes, peopled by such archetypes as the Poet, the Beautiful Dying Girl, the Automaton, the Courtesan, and the Mesmerist. Hadlock shows how these episodes comprise a collective unconscious. Her analyses touch on topics ranging from the self-reflexive style of the protagonist and the music, to parallels between nineteenth-century discourses of theater and medical science, to fascination with the hysterical female subject.

Les Contes d'Hoffmann is also examined as both a continuation and a retraction of tendencies in Offenbach's earlier operettas and opéra-comiques. Hadlock investigates the political climate of the 1870s that influenced the composer's vision and the reception of his last work. Drawing upon insights from feminist, literary, and cultural theory, she considers how the opera's music and libretto took shape within a complex literary and theatrical tradition. Finally, Hadlock ponders the enigmas posed by the score of this unfinished opera, which has been completed many times and by many different hands since its composer's death shortly before the premiere in 1881. In this book, the "mad loves" that drive Les Contes d'Hoffmann--a poet's love, a daughter's love, erotic love, and fatal attraction to music--become figures for the fascination exercised by opera itself.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Metaphysical Song

An Essay on Opera

Gary Tomlinson

In this bold recasting of operatic history, Gary Tomlinson connects opera to shifting visions of metaphysics and selfhood across the last four hundred years. The operatic voice, he maintains, has always acted to open invisible, supersensible realms to the perceptions of its listeners. In doing so, it has articulated changing relations between the self and metaphysics. Tomlinson examines these relations as they have been described by philosophers from Ficino through Descartes, Kant, and Nietzsche, to Adorno, all of whom worked to define the subject's place in both material and metaphysical realms. The author then shows how opera, in its own cultural arena, distinct from philosophy, has repeatedly brought to the stage these changing relations of the subject to the particular metaphysics it presumes.

Covering composers from Jacopo Peri to Wagner, from Lully to Verdi, and from Mozart to Britten, Metaphysical Song details interactions of song, words, drama, and sounds used by creators of opera to fill in the outlines of the subjectivities they envisioned. The book offers deep-seated explanations for opera's enduring fascination in European elite culture and suggests some of the profound difficulties that have unsettled this fascination since the time of Wagner.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Monstrous Opera

Rameau and the Tragic Tradition

Charles Dill

One of the foremost composers of the French Baroque operatic tradition, Rameau is often cited for his struggle to steer lyric tragedy away from its strict Lullian form, inspired by spoken tragedy, and toward a more expressive musical style. In this fresh exploration of Rameau's compositional aesthetic, Charles Dill depicts a much more complicated figure: one obsessed with tradition, music theory, his own creative instincts, and the public's expectations of his music. Dill examines the ways Rameau mediated among these often competing values and how he interacted with his critics and with the public. The result is a sophisticated rethinking of Rameau as a musical innovator.

In his compositions, Rameau tried to highlight music's potential for dramatic meanings. But his listeners, who understood lyric tragedy to be a poetic rather than musical genre, were generally frustrated by these attempts. In fact, some described Rameau's music as monstrous--using an image of deformity to represent the failure of reason and communication. Dill shows how Rameau answered his critics with rational, theoretical arguments about the role of music in lyric tragedy. At the same time, however, the composer sought to placate his audiences by substantially revising his musical texts in later performances, sometimes abandoning his most creative ideas.

Monstrous Opera illuminates the complexity of Rameau's vision, revealing not only the tensions within the music but also the conflicting desires that drove the man--himself caricatured by his contemporaries as a monster.

Originally published in 1998.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Music in the Theater

Essays on Verdi and Other Composers

Pierluigi Petrobelli

Well-known for leading audiences to a new appreciation of Verdi as a subtle and elaborate musical thinker, Pierluigi Petrobelli here turns his attention to the intriguing question of how musical theater works. In this collection of lively, penetrating essays, Petrobelli analyzes specific operas, mainly by Verdi, in terms of historical context, musical organization, and dramaturgical conventions.

Originally published in 1995.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Puccini's "Turandot"

The End of the Great Tradition

William Ashbrook

Unfinished at Puccini's death in 1924, Turandot was not only his most ambitious work, but it became the last Italian opera to enter the international repertory. In this colorful study two renowned music scholars demonstrate that this work, despite the modern climate in which it was written, was a fitting finale for the centuries-old Great Tradition of Italian opera. Here they provide concrete instances of how a listener might encounter the dramatic and musical structures of Turandot in light of the Italian melodramma, and firmly establish Puccini's last work within the tradition of Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi. In a summary of the sounds, sights, and symbolism of Turandot, the authors touch on earlier treatments of the subject, outline the conception, birth, and reception of the work, and analyze its coordinated dramatic and musical design. Showing how the evolution of the libretto documents Puccini's reversion to large musical forms typical of the Great Tradition in the late nineteenth century, they give particular attention to his use of contrasting Romantic, modernist, and two kinds of orientalist coloration in the general musical structure. They suggest that Puccini's inability to complete the opera resulted mainly from inadequate dramatic buildup for Turandot's last-minute change of heart combined with an overly successful treatment of the secondary character.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Reading Opera

Arthur Groos

"Libretto-bashing has a distinguished tradition in the blood sport of opera," writes Arthur Groos in the introduction to this broad survey of critical approaches to that much-maligned genre. To examine, and to challenge, the long-standing prejudice against libretti and the scholarly tradition that has, until recently, reiterated it, Groos and Roger Parker have commissioned thirteen stimulating essays by musicologists, literary critics, and historians. Taken as a whole, the volume demonstrates that libretti are now very much within the purview of contemporary humanistic scholarship. Libretti pose questions of intertextuality, transposition of genre, and reception history. They invite a broad spectrum of contemporary reading strategies ranging from the formalistic to the feminist. And as texts for music they raise issues in the relation between the two mediums and their respective traditions. Reading Opera will be of value to anyone with a serious interest in opera and contemporary opera criticism. The essays cover the period from the early nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries, with a particular focus on works of the later nineteenth century. The contributors are Carolyn Abbate, William Ashbrook, Katherine Bergeron, Caryl Emerson, Nelly Furman, Sander L. Gilman, Arthur Groos, James A. Hepokoski, Jurgen Maehder, Roger Parker, Paul Robinson, Christopher Wintle, and Susan Youens.

Originally published in 1988.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

1 2 NEXT next

Results 1-10 of 14

:
:

Return to Browse All Series on Project MUSE

Series

Princeton Studies in Opera

Content Type

  • (14)

Access

  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access