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A History in Documents

Piero Weiss

Publication Date - February 2002

ISBN: 9780195116380

352 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $99.99

This fascinating journey through the history of opera features more than 100 selections, from opera's late Renaissance infancy through modern times.


In Opera: A History in Documents, Piero Weiss presents a wide-ranging, vivid, and carefully researched tour of operatic history. A unique anthology of primary source material, this survey includes 115 chronologically organized selections--passages from private letters, public decrees, descriptions of first performances, portions of libretti, literary criticism and satire, newspaper reviews and articles, and poetry and fiction--from opera's late Renaissance infancy through modern times. This first-hand testimony allows students to experience the history of opera as eyewitnesses, offering an immediacy and validity unmatched by standard histories. Readers are transported to a Medici wedding in sixteenth-century Florence, to the Haymarket Theatre for a performance of Handel's Rinaldo, to Mozart at work on Die Entführung aus dem Serail, and to Bertolt Brecht's writing desk, among many other landmarks in opera's history. Weiss expertly guides students, providing highly accessible headnotes to each selection that both contextualize the excerpts and position them within the broader historical narrative. In addition, he offers original translations of more than half of the selections in the book, many of which appear here in English for the first time. Stage settings, costumes, portraits, contemporary playbills, and other illustrations enliven the text and help to recreate the feel of the era under discussion. Opera: A History in Documents is an intrinsically lively text that will enrich college courses on opera and delight any music-loving reader.


"Weiss's extraordinary selection of documents includes some wonderful illustrations in addition to substantial excerpts from letters, prefaces, pamphlets, and even libretti. . . . This volume is a priceless addition to the literature, and the pages of my copy are already dog-eared from constant use."--Music and Letters

Table of Contents

    1. The Medici Wedding Festivities of 1589 (de' Rossi)
    2. Pietro Bardi on the Birth of Opera
    3. L'Euridice, the Second Opera (Buonarroti, Rinuccini, Peri, Caccini)
    4. Cavalieri's Rappresentatione di anima, et di corpo (Guidotti, Cavalieri)
    5. Monteverdi Criticizes a Libretto
    6. Sant'Alessio at the Barberini Palace, Rome (Rospigliosi, Bouchard)
    7. Opera Comes to Venice and Goes Public (Ivanovich)
    8. Lully is Granted a Monopoly on Opera in French (Colbert, Lully)
    9. The Grand Siècle Absorbs the Tragédie en musique (Perrault, La Fontaine, Boileau)
    10. Saint-Évremond's Views on Opera
    11. The First English Operas (Dryden)
    12. Handel's Rinaldo at the Haymarket Theatre (Hill, G. Rossi, Addison, Steele)
    13. Pier Jacopo Martello on Opera (1715)
    14. The Président de Bosses in Italy (1739)
    15. Metastasio on Setting Dramatic Recitative to Music
    16. From Rousseau's Confessions
    17. The War of the Buffoons (d'Holbach)
    Interlude: A Traveling Company (G. Gozzi)
    18. Operatic Reform in Vienna: Gluck and Calzabigi
    19. Gluck in Paris (Meister)
    20. Mozart at Work on Die Entführung aus dem Serail
    21. Grétry's Richard Coeur-de-Lion (Meister, Grétry)
    22. The Making of Le nozze di Figaro (L. and W.A. Mozart, Da Ponte)
    23. Kierkegaard's Don Giovanni
    24. Fidelio in 1806 (Röckel)
    25. Berlioz's Estimate of Spontini
    26. E. T. A. Hoffman on "Music Drama That Springs from the Heart"
    27. The First Performance of Il barbiere di Siviglia (Righetti-Giorgi)
    28. Der Freischütz: A German Triumph (M. M. von Weber)
    29. Parisian Grand Opera: Auber's La Muette de Portici as Seen by Wagner
    Interlude: Madame Pasta (Hunt)
    30. Verdi's Own Story of How Nabucco Was Composed
    31. Verdi's Operatic Style Analyzed by a Contemporary (Basevi)
    32. Wagner on the Evolution of his Style
    33. Wagner's Theory of Drama
    34. Divergent Reactions to Boris Godunov (Laroche, Stasov)
    35. Tchaikovsky on Eugene Onegin
    36. Nietzsche vs. Wagner
    37. Verdi's Otello (Boito, Verdi, Morelli)
    Interlude: Verdi and Wagner in Vienna (J. Sulzer)
    38. Verismo (Verga)
    39. Four Men at Work on La bohème (Illica, Puccini, Ricordi, Giacosa)
    40. Pelléas et Mélisande (Mauclair, journalist, Debussy)
    41. Strauss and Hofmannsthal Work on Der Rosenkavalier
    42. Duke Bluebeard's Castle (Ballász)
    43. Busoni and the Reinstatement of Disbelief
    44. In Defense of Kát'a Kabanová (Stuart)
    45. Alban Berg on Wozzeck
    46. Brecht on "Epic Opera"
    47. Shostakovich and the Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk Debacle (Shostakovich, Pravda)
    Interlude: An Italian Claque (Montale)
    48. Peter Grimes in Postwar London (Edm. Wilson)
    49. Stravinsky, Auden, and The Rake's Progress
    50. A First Reaction to Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites (Mila)
    51. Einstein on the Beach by Philip Glass (Page)
    52. John Adams on Nixon in China