Recently in Books
Opera in the British Isles might seem a rather sparse subject in the period 1875 to 1918. Notoriously described as the land without music, even the revival of the native tradition of composers did not include a strong vein of opera.
Heldentenor Jay Hunter Morris tells us about the lean times when the phone did not ring, as well as those thrilling moments when companies entrusted him with the most important roles in opera.
Commonly viewed as a ‘second-rate’ composer — a European radical persecuted by the Nazis whose trans-Atlantic emigration represented a sell-out to an inferior American popular culture —
Although part of a series entitled Cambridge Introductions to Music, Robert Cannon’s wide-ranging, imaginative and thought-provoking survey of opera is certainly not a ‘beginners’ guide’.
Those of us of a certain age have fond memories of James Melton, who entertained our parents starting in the 1930s and the rest of us in the 1940s and beyond on recordings, the radio, and films.
An important new book on Italo Montemezzi sheds light on his opera Nave. The author/editor is David Chandler whose books on Alfredo Catalani have done so much to restore interest in the genre.
Assumptions about later Italian opera are dominated by Puccini, but Alfredo Catalani, born in the same town and almost at the same time, was highly regarded by their contemporaries. Two new books on Catalani could change our perceptions.
I was feeling cowed by Herr Engels. The four of us had retired from the Stravinsky performance to a Billy Wilder-themed bar in Berlin, the least horrible late-night option in the high end mediocrity of Potsdamer Platz.
This substantial book is one of the latest in the Ashgate series of
collected essays in opera studies and draws together articles from a disparate
group of scholarly journals and collected volumes, some recent, some now
difficult to locate.
Vincent Giroud’s valuable new French Opera, a Short History, is in hand and very welcome it is.
The noted operatic impresario and stage director, Lotfi Mansouri, with the professional help of writer Donald Arthur, has issued his memoirs under the title Lotfi Mansouri: An Operatic Journey.
Originally published in German as Herrin des Hügels, das Leben der Cosima Wagner (Siedler, 2007), this new book by Oliver Hilmes is an engaging portrait of one of the most important women in music during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Robert Stuart Thomson’s Italian language learning text, Operatic Italian, promises to become an invaluable textbook for aspiring operatic singers, voice teachers, coaches and conductors.
Ralph Locke’s recent book on Musical Exoticism is both an historical survey of aspects of the exotic in Western musical culture and a discussion of paradigms of the exotic and their relevance for musicological understanding.
Readers may recognize the author of this book, David J. Buch, a specialist on the origins of the libretto to Mozart’s Magic Flute.
Perhaps it will be enough to tell you that I wasn’t halfway through this book before I searched the web for a copy of Professor Ewans’s study of Wagner and Aeschylus’s Oresteia, and ordered it forthwith: It has to be good.
Chinese bass Hao Jiang Tian was 30, when he enrolled as an undergraduate at the University of Denver 1983.
Two excellent books on opera have come to hand, providing many hours of entertaining reading. I combine notice of them with a few thoughts about composer Paul Moravec’s CDs, and his forthcoming opera premiere at Santa Fe Opera in 2009.
Claudio Monteverdi. Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in patria. Edited by Rinaldo Alessandrini. Urtext. Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2007. BA 8791. A vocal score is available as 8791a.
Published in 2007, Riccardo primo, Re d’Inghilterra (HWV 23) and Tolomeo, Re d’Egitto (HWV 25) mark two of the latest installments of vocal-score editions of Handel’s operas based upon Bärenreiter’s Urtext editions.
20 May 2005
TRIBO: Annals 1847-1897 del Gran Teatre del Liceu
The importance of the Teatre del Liceu, can not be overstated. The house ranks with all the leading theatres of the world, being right up there with Paris, London, New York, Vienna, Madrid, Rome, Milan, Lisbon, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Turin, Naples, Buenos Aires, and other cities of comparable importance. During its long history (158 years at the time of writing) it featured many of the great singers. These include Caruso, Battistini, Tamagno, Ruffo, Caballe, Tebaldi, Mario, Pavarotti, Vignas, Lazaro, O'Sullivan, Stracciari, Pagliughi, Gayarre, Masini, Stagno, Lauri-Volpi, Bellincioni, and countless others. Quite a few of these who sang there before 1897 are represented on the accompanying disc.
With the sesquicentenary of the theatre in 1997, a project was initiated to publish annals for the first 150 years, 50 years per volume. The first, which appeared in 1997 covered the years from 1947 to 1997. This is the second, and covers the first 50 years (1847 to 1897). The remaining 50 years (1897 to 1947) are still "in progress", and will, hopefully, see the light of day within a few years. In the last few decades, model chronologies of opera houses have become the norm, with many of these eclipsing previous volumes on the theatres being documented. This is easily the case with Tribo's book. It more or less follows the style initiated with Pau Nadal's volume covering the years from 1947 to 1997, but improves on it in many ways.
However, it should be noted that, especially during the early years, the theatre was also used for plays, ballets, and non-operatic musical performances. These are included, with operas being highlighted by having the titles written in bold-face. Plays are indicated by the letter (t), ballets by (b), zarzuelas by (s), oratorios by (pc) and operettas by (op).
While the book does contain a brief introduction, the great bulk comprises the chronology (with the indexes 327 of 357 pages). Thus, this is quite comprehensive, listing all the operas performed, chronologically by season, with full casts and all the dates that the piece was given. When there are cast changes, the dates (months, if appropriate) that the changes took place are also indicated, as is the language used for French and German works (almost invariably given in Italian during these 50 years). World premieres are indicated by (eA), Barcelona premieres by (eB) and Liceu premieres by (eL). In those cases (especially benefit performances) where selections from other works are included, these are also given.
This is a model book, which can be recommended in the strongest terms.
[Editor's Note: This book may be purchased through ópera Actual.]