Selected Essays on Opera
Rodopi, 2006 - 383 pages
Ulrich Weisstein, an international authority in the fields of comparative literature and comparative arts, has been a pioneer paving the way for present-day intermedia studies. Among his broad intermedial interests opera has always held a central place. For the first time this volume makes available his major contributions to opera criticism in compact form, thus meeting a serious scholarly demand.
The necessarily stringent selection of essays from Professor Weisstein's large output on opera, reflecting fifty years of involvement with the genre, is primarily governed by the wish to present texts that are representative of their author's work and, at the same time, are unlikely to be readily available through other channels. The fourteen essays collected are arranged in chronological order, some of them showing Ulrich Weisstein as an initiator of librettology, others tracing adaptive processes extending from textual sources to final operas, or investigating writer/composer collaborations. Further topics are satirical reflections on operatic activities in early-eighteenth-century Italy and practices of opera censorship, artist operas or definitions of romantic and epic opera. The essays are written in an accessible, essentially non-technical language and are expected to make both a profitable and a pleasurable reading for literary scholars as well as musicologists and general art lovers.
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Educating Siegfried 1984
Pariser Farce oder wienerische Maskerade?
Tristan und Isolde
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Page 187 - I hope I may be forgiven, that I have not made my opera throughout unnatural, like those in vogue; for I have no recitative...
Page 185 - At length the audience grew tired of understanding half the opera ; and therefore, to ease themselves entirely of the fatigue of thinking, have so ordered it at present, that the whole opera is performed in an unknown tongue.
Page 38 - ... which it has as the panacea for all our woes. Thus, if music is too closely united to the words, and tries to form itself according to the events, it is striving to speak a language which is not its own. No one has kept so free from this mistake as .Rossini; therefore his music speaks its own language so distinctly and purely that it requires no words, and produces its full effect when rendered by instruments alone.
Page 14 - The verses which the librettist writes are not addressed to the public but are really a private letter to the composer. They have their moment of glory, the moment in which they suggest to him a certain melody; once that is over, they are as expendable as infantry to a Chinese general: they must efface themselves and cease to care what happens to them.
Page 187 - I have introduc'd the Similes that are in all your celebrated Operas : The ) Swallow, the Moth, the Bee, the Ship, the Flower, &c.
Page 80 - Dame, demoiselle, bourgeoise, paysanne, il ne trouve rien de trop chaud ni de trop froid pour lui...
Page 185 - I hope, since we do put such an entire confidence in them, they will not talk against us before our faces, though they may do it with the same safety as if it were behind our backs. In the mean time, I cannot forbear thinking how naturally an historian who writes two or three hundred years hence, and does not know the taste of his wise forefathers, will make the following reflections, : ' In the beginning of the eighteenth century, the Italian tongue was so well understood in England, that operas...
Page 14 - I have explained to Stephanie the words I require for this aria — indeed, I had finished composing most of the music for it before Stephanie knew anything whatever about it. I am enclosing only the beginning and the end, which is bound to have a good effect. Osmin's rage is rendered comical by the accompaniment of the Turkish music. In working out the aria I have...
Page 5 - For this year and for the two following there must be two equal parts in the operas for Cuzzoni and Faustina ; Senesino is the chief male character, and his part must be heroic ; the other three male parts must proceed by degrees with three arias each, one in each Act. The duet should be at the end of the second Act, and between the two ladies.
Page 184 - ... to the eternal honour of our English particles. The next step to our refinement, was the introducing of Italian actors into our opera; who sung their parts in their own language, at the same time that our countrymen performed theirs in our native tongue. The king or hero of the play generally spoke in Italian, and his slaves answered him in English : the lover frequently made his court, and gained the heart of his princess in a language which she did not understand.