The Puccini Problem: Opera, Nationalism, and Modernity by Alexandra Wilson

By Alexandra Wilson

A close research of the reception and cultural contexts of Puccini's tune, this ebook deals a clean view of this traditionally vital yet often neglected composer. Wilson's learn explores the ways that Puccini's song and personality have been held up as either the antidote to and the embodiment of the decadence broadly felt to be afflicting overdue 19th- and early twentieth-century Italy, a kingdom which even supposing politically unified remained culturally divided. The publication focuses upon primary, similar questions that have been debated all through Puccini's occupation: his prestige as a countrywide or foreign composer, and his prestige as a traditionalist or modernist. additionally, Wilson examines how Puccini's operas turned stuck up in quite a lot of extra-musical controversies pertaining to such concerns as gender and sophistication. This ebook makes a huge contribution to our knowing of either the heritage of opera and of the broader creative and highbrow lifetime of turn-of-the-century Italy.

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Extra resources for The Puccini Problem: Opera, Nationalism, and Modernity

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17 The policy of cultural ‘splendid isolation’ that Italy had long attempted to assert was, by the final quarter of the nineteenth century, no longer possible to sustain. Italian intellectuals became increasingly preoccupied by a hitherto unthinkable prospect – that Italian operatic hegemony was no longer guaranteed. In response, contemporary music critics used emotive words such as ‘contamination’ and ‘pollution’ to protest at what they depicted in no uncertain terms as the quasi-militaristic ‘invasion’ of foreign operas.

55 Local variations in the Italian landscape and climate went unnoticed as contemporary nation-builders attempted to depict a homogeneous state unsullied by regional diversity. And just as there was apparently only one Italian climate, so too was there only one Italian music. Commentators claimed that despite centuries of political division, the various Italian cities shared a distinct national musical style. Gandolfi argued: If modern Italian music is a fusion of the Roman, Venetian, Lombardian, Bolognese and Neapolitan schools, this is not the product of eclecticism but rather the fact that all these schools Inventing an Italian composer belonged to one people, who lived off the same soil, warmed by the same sun, with the same religious, philosophical, moral principles, with common idioms, literature and poetry.

16 The first quartet society was established in Milan in 1864, and Italy heard its first Beethoven symphony in Turin in 1873. 17 The policy of cultural ‘splendid isolation’ that Italy had long attempted to assert was, by the final quarter of the nineteenth century, no longer possible to sustain. Italian intellectuals became increasingly preoccupied by a hitherto unthinkable prospect – that Italian operatic hegemony was no longer guaranteed. In response, contemporary music critics used emotive words such as ‘contamination’ and ‘pollution’ to protest at what they depicted in no uncertain terms as the quasi-militaristic ‘invasion’ of foreign operas.

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