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Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera download epub

by Philip Gossett


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Philip Gossett is an opera fan, a musician, a scholar, and the world's leading authority on the performance of Italian opera. The only downside to this volume is the scholarly part may not be of great interest to the diva-followers, while the diva section may seem tedious to the scholarship fans.

Philip Gossett is an opera fan, a musician, a scholar, and the world's leading authority on the performance of Italian opera. There may be a few sections you feel the need to skim through (some analysis gets pretty technical), but overall it’s a fascinating read, and it rewards re-reading, too.

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Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera, a major work on the subject, won the Otto Kinkeldey Award of the American Musicological Society as best book on music of 2006

Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera, a major work on the subject, won the Otto Kinkeldey Award of the American Musicological Society as best book on music of 2006. Musicologist Philip Gossett arguably has done as much for Italian opera as any of those geniuses.

Performing Italian Opera.

Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera.

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Winner of the 2007 Otto Kinkeldey Award from the American Musicological Society and the 2007 Deems Taylor Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers.

Divas and Scholars is a dazzling and beguiling account of how opera comes to the stage, filled with Philip Gossett’s personal experiences of triumphant—and even failed—performances and suffused with his towering and tonic passion for music. Writing as a fan, a musician, and a scholar, Gossett, the world's leading authority on the performance of Italian opera, brings colorfully to life the problems, and occasionally the scandals, that attend the production of some of our most favorite operas. Gossett begins by tracing the social history of nineteenth-century Italian theaters in order to explain the nature of the musical scores from which performers have long worked. He then illuminates the often hidden but crucial negotiations opera scholars and opera conductors and performers: What does it mean to talk about performing from a critical edition? How does one determine what music to perform when multiple versions of an opera exist? What are the implications of omitting passages from an opera in a performance? In addition to vexing questions such as these, Gossett also tackles issues of ornamentation and transposition in vocal style, the matters of translation and adaptation, and even aspects of stage direction and set design. Throughout this extensive and passionate work, Gossett enlivens his history with reports from his own experiences with major opera companies at venues ranging from the Metropolitan and Santa Fe operas to the Rossini Opera Festival at Pesaro. The result is a book that will enthrall both aficionados of Italian opera and newcomers seeking a reliable introduction to it—in all its incomparable grandeur and timeless allure.  


Comments: (7)

Walan
This title of this book tells the reader exactly what to expect. It is part musicological discussion—opera research, scholarship, and performing editions—and part current backstage…well, I won’t say gossip, but…backstage insider information.

One thing I take away from this book is a better understanding of why it’s so difficult to establish definitive, “authentic” versions of 19th century Italian opera (and others). Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi revised their operas pretty much every time they were associated with a performance. Music was adapted to the language and tastes of the audience (all of them did French and Italian operas), including the types of spectacle the audience expected (ballet in France) and the current trend in vocal ornamentation. Sometimes music was rewritten to accommodate a diva or divo. Sometimes, especially in Rossini, entire arias, choruses, or duets were given a new text, and subsequently, new orchestrations to reflect that text. All of these variants render the expression, “what the composer intended” moot at best. At the very least, the lesson learned here is that a lot more qualification may be needed before the “composers intent” can be stated with authority (if at all).

I was fascinated by Mr. Gossett's discussion of period versus modern instruments. When I think of period instruments, I think 18th century and earlier. But developments and advances in instrument building have always been going on, and the tone and capabilities, particularly of brass and winds, have changed considerably since the 19th century.

Mr. Gossett also addresses the issues of transposition, and how transposing one aria up or down to meet the needs/limitations of a particular singer can affect the surrounding music. In order to illustrate varieties in ornamentation, changes music to accommodate new text, or changes in instrumentation, Mr. Gossett includes many musical examples, which I found a little difficult, reading on an older Kindle. An analog book might be the better way to go here, unless you have a Kindle Fire, or are reading on a PC.

If your interests lean more towards the how than the why, Mr. Gossett shares a lot of backstage tidbits, too. He has worked closely with the great, and not so great, musicians of the 20th and 21st century to create and recreate opera performances that are as close to authentic as we can get. He names names—the good, the bad, and the unlistenable—but he never really comes across as bitchy or unkind.

Mr. Gossett writes about working with other scholars, conductors, singers and directors. All of his backstage stories are in the context of creating the best performance possible. In the final chapters, he relates the productions of Verdi's Gustavo III, a "hypothetical reconstruction" of the original original version of Un ballo in maschera, and Rossini's Il viaggio a Reims, both in Scandinavia.

Philip Gossett is an opera fan, a musician, a scholar, and the world's leading authority on the performance of Italian opera. The only downside to this volume is the scholarly part may not be of great interest to the diva-followers, while the diva section may seem tedious to the scholarship fans. There may be a few sections you feel the need to skim through (some analysis gets pretty technical), but overall it’s a fascinating read, and it rewards re-reading, too.
Angana
"Divas & Scholars" is a masterpiece from every possible perspective, and I am astonished that there are only 4 customer reviews ahead of mine. It is written in the liveliest, most personal style. Every chapter, every paragraph, every sentence is filled with fascinating information and insights. (The only book on music that I have ever read that is its equal is Charles Rosen's universally acclaimed "Classical Style," which was published 35 years ago. Rosen himself gave "Divas & Scholars" a rave review in the New York Review of Books (10/05/06).) No one before Gossett has ever explained so clearly the conditions under which masterpieces by Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi were not merely created but nearly tossed off, in almost the manner one associates with live television in the 50's. No one else has ever explained so clearly what a first performance looked like and sounded like, the lighting, the gestures, the sound in a particular theater or particular instruments, and the particular text and ornamentation that a singer chose. No one else has ever shown in such specific detail how performance traditions (and music) were transmitted and how they changed over time and place. "Divas & Scholars" can be read by everyone--the opera lover, the record listener, the stage designer, professional opera singers, orchestra musicians and conductors, and directors. It could be read by everyone who has ever loved Norma, Lucia, and all the other great figures of bel canto opera. It could be read by anyone with an interest in the social history of Europe in the first half of the nineteenth century. A summary of the delights of this book would be as long as the book itself. Five stars are not enough. It will be a resource and a pleasure forever.
Deorro
This beautifully presented tome is fascinating. There may only a few die hard, full time dismissers of Italian Opera left, but they will find it harder to be so snooty after reading any of the chapters. It is all about context. Gosset provides you with detailed examples of the conditions under which the works were composed and performed and the pressures facing all involved. It is fascinating and made me feel like a musical sloth in my own perfomance habits.

There are very elegantly printed musical examples as well as the odd juicy snide comment about singers whose attitude to performing these works is less than thorough. Sometimes the detail is daunting and perhaps a little dry but you could pick and choose your chapters if this is worrying you.

How reassuring that books like this are still being written when the Music section of Borders is filled with biographies of such musical heavyweights as Sting and Bono.
generation of new
A magnificent scholarly book that is nonetheless essential reading for conductors and singers. The tradition and style of Italian opera in an authentic fashion is often an elusive thing for many performers, and this book goes a long way in learning that style, so that performers can make good, sound decisions regarding their performance practice.

Most enthusiastically recommended!
Daiktilar
An interesting book to see the work from a singers point of view rather another critic.
Bumand
We adore this book! Mr. Gossett, a professor in our home town of Chicago, is brilliant. The scholarship is first rate, the writing is user-friendly without talking down to you. The subject is incredibly well covered - it's interesting, enlightening, fascinating and really worth it! Highly recommended!

Paul Vermel and Carolyn Paulin (musicians both)
Cashoutmaster
Fascinating essay on how Bel Canto and Verdi operas should be performed. We are all indebted to dr. Gossett for his research on Rossini and Verdi. Priceless.
Great book! The author is a scholar with solid reputation, deep knowledge of the subject and needs no presentation. Each page of this work is a real pleasure.
Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera download epub
Music
Author: Philip Gossett
ISBN: 0226304825
Category: Arts & Photography
Subcategory: Music
Language: English
Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (September 3, 2006)
Pages: 704 pages