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Laughter between Two Revolutions

Laughter between Two Revolutions: Opera Buffa in Italy, 1831-1848

Francesco Izzo
Volume: 106
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 300
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  • Book Info
    Laughter between Two Revolutions
    Book Description:

    This study represents the first substantial assessment of Italian comic operas composed during the central years of the Risorgimento -- the period during which upheavals, revolutions, and wars ultimately led to the liberation andunification of Italy. Music historians often view the period as one during which serious Romantic opera flourished in Italy while opera buffa inexorably declined. Laughter between Two Revolutions revises this widespread notion by viewing well-known masterpieces -- such as Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore (1832) and Don Pasquale (1843) -- as part of a still-thriving tradition. Also examined are opere buffe by Luigi Ricci,Lauro Rossi, Verdi (Un giorno di regno), and others, many of which circulated widely at the time. Francesco Izzo's pathbreaking study argues that in the "realm of seriousness" of mid-nineteenth-century Italy, comedy was not an anachronistic intruder, but a significant and vital cultural presence. Laughter between Revolutions: Opera Buffa in Italy, 1831-1848 offers new insights into opera history and theories of humor in the arts.It will be of interest to opera lovers everywhere and to students in such fields as music, philosophy, comparative literature, and Italian cultural studies. Francesco Izzo is Senior Lecturer in Music at the Universityof Southampton, and has also taught at New York University, East Carolina University, and the University of Chicago. He is the editor of Un giorno di regno for the Works of Giuseppe Verdi (forthcoming).

    eISBN: 978-1-58046-839-8
    Subjects: Music, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction: Comedy in an Age of Tragedy
    (pp. 1-20)

    Rome, December 1845. On the eve of the new carnival season, there is great anticipation for the arrival of the celebratedbasso buffo, Carlo Cambiaggio. Having earned a tremendous success at the Teatro Argentina the year before, Cambiaggio has taken over the management of the Teatro Valle, where he prepares to run a season consisting entirely of comic works: his own pasticheDon Procopio(1844),¹ Luigi Ricci’sChi dura vince(1834), Gaetano Donizetti’sLa figlia del reggimento(1840), and Giuseppe Verdi’sUn giorno di regno(1840).² Local poet Jacopo Ferretti, one of the leading librettists of his generation, author of...

  6. Chapter One Opera Buffa in 1832: Il nuovo Figaro and L’elisir d’amore
    (pp. 21-56)

    Luigi Ricci’sIl nuovo Figaroand Gaetano Donizetti’sL’elisir d’amorewere both premiered with great success in the spring of 1832, in Parma and Milan, respectively. The former circulated widely to considerable acclaim during the 1830s and 1840s and then declined, fading into oblivion well before the end of the nineteenth century, whereas the latter went on to become a perennial favorite of opera audiences. The two operas occupy a privileged position in the output of their composers.Il nuovo Figarofollowed the great success of Luigi Ricci’sopera semiseria,Chiara di Rosenbergh, at La Scala the year before and...

  7. Chapter Two The Ricci Supremacy and the Celebration of Italian Comedy: Un’avventura di Scaramuccia (1834)
    (pp. 57-88)

    More than a decade separatesL’elisir d’amorefrom Donizetti’s finalopera buffa,Don Pasquale. During that time, Donizetti himself composed only a small handful of other comic works—two one-act works for the Teatro Nuovo in Naples (Il campanello and Betly, both 1836) andLa Fille du régimentfor the Opéra Comique in Paris (1840).¹ Thus it was Luigi Ricci who by the mid-1830s stood as the leading champion ofopera buffain Italy.² For the remainder of his career, his operas were either comic or semiserious, with the sole exception of the 1845opera seria,La solitaria delle Asturie,...

  8. Chapter Three Old Librettos Revisited: Gaetano Rossi and Luigi Ricci’s Le nozze di Figaro (1838) and Other Remakes
    (pp. 89-138)

    The subject matter of Italian opera librettos is rarely original. Since the inception of the genre, librettists drew on all kinds of fictional, historical, dramatic, and narrative materials, modifying them to varying degrees in order to suit the different medium, specific musical and dramatic conventions, the expectations of specific patrons, the needs and demands of the cast, or the requirements of authorities and censors. Quite early in the history of opera, it became clear that one of the most straightforward ways to produce a libretto was to adapt an existing one. This practice solidified in the eighteenth century, and its...

  9. Chapter Four Genre in Gaetano Donizetti’s Don Pasquale (1843)
    (pp. 139-164)

    Don Pasquale, act 1. As the curtain rises, Don Pasquale, alone onstage, stares impatiently at his pocket watch, awaiting the arrival of his physician and confidant, Doctor Malatesta (scene 1). Malatesta soon enters and tells the elderly man that he has found a suitable bride for him (scene 2). Beside himself with excitement, Don Pasquale rushes his friend to fetch the young woman; alone again, he anticipates the bliss of married life and fatherhood.

    This opening scene is perhaps the most individual in the entire opera. It is a masterful study in character, and it goes a long way toward...

  10. Chapter Five Genre in Giovanni Peruzzini and Lauro Rossi’s Il borgomastro di Schiedam (1844)
    (pp. 165-198)

    Lauro Rossi’sIl borgomastro di Schiedam, amelodrammain three acts to a libretto by Giovanni Peruzzini, received its premiere at Milan’s Teatro Re on June 1, 1844. Although its success was short-lived, the opera circulated widely in the mid 1840s, with about a dozen revivals around the peninsula during the two years following the premiere, several of which were well received and went on for numerous performances.¹ A few days after the premiere, composer and critic Alberto Mazzucato published an extensive review in theGazzetta musicale di Milano, providing the readers with unusually detailed insights into the libretto and...

  11. Chapter Six “Evviva la Francia”? Nationality, Censorship, and Donizetti’s La figlia del reggimento (1840)
    (pp. 199-230)

    When Donizetti’sDon Pasqualeand Rossi’sIl borgomastro di Schiedamappeared in the mid-1840s, another recent comic opera had been circulating widely in the Italian peninsula—Gaetano Donizetti’sLa figlia del reggimento. Composed for the Paris Opéra-Comique to a French libretto by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Jean-François Bayard,La Fille du régimentreceived its world premiere at the Salle de la Bourse on February 11, 1840. A few months later, Donizetti revised the opera for the Italian premiere, which took place at Milan’s La Scala on October 2 of that year under the title ofLa figlia del reggimento,...

  12. Conclusion The Ricci Legacy, Crispino e la comare (1850), and Post-1848 Opera Buffa
    (pp. 231-240)

    Busseto, March 16, 1850. Giuseppe Verdi writes to his librettist, Francesco Maria Piave, about future plans for La Fenice. The letter includes the following aside: “I have not been able to read yourCrispino: I will read it. In the meantime, I congratulate you on the outcome.”¹ The libretto mentioned in passing by Verdi isCrispino e la comare, amelodramma fantastico-giocosoin four acts based on an 1825 play by Salvatore Fabbrichesi,Il medico e la morte, ossia Le cinque giornate di maestro Crespino ciabattino. It was set to music by Luigi and Federico Ricci and premiered at the...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 241-282)
  14. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 283-296)
  15. Index
    (pp. 297-304)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 305-305)