Musical Theater in Eighteenth-Century Parma
Title Details

196 Pages

22.8 x 15.2 cm

35 b/w, 10 line illus.

Series: Eastman Studies in Music

Series Vol. Number: 151

Imprint: University of Rochester Press

Musical Theater in Eighteenth-Century Parma

Entertainment, Sovereignty, Reform

by Margaret Butler

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Reviews
How do you create a style of opera that speaks to everyone, when no one agrees on what it should say -- or how?
French and Italian varieties of opera have intermingled and informed one another from the genre's first decades onward. Yet we still have only a hazy view of why and how those intersections occurred and what they meant to a givenopera's creators and audiences.

Margaret Butler's Musical Theater in Eighteenth-Century Parma: Entertainment, Sovereignty, Reform tackles these issues, examining performance, spectatorship, and politics in the Bourbon-controlled, northern Italian city of Parma in the mid-eighteenth century.

Reconstructing the French context for Tommaso Traetta's Italian operas that consciously set out to fuse French and Italian elements, Butler explores Traetta's operas and recreations in Parma of operas and ballets by Jean-Philippe Rameau and other French composers. She shows that Parma's brand of entertainment is one in which Traetta's operas occupy points along a continuum representing a long and rich tradition of adaptation and generic play. Such a reading calls into question the very notion of operatic reform, showing the need for a more flexible conception of a volatile moment in opera's history.

The book elucidates the complicated circumstances in which entertainments were created that spoke not only to Parma's multicultural audiences but also to an increasingly cosmopolitan Europe.

MARGARET R. BUTLER is Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Introduction: The Genre Problem: Reform as Continuum and Brand
The Genesis of Parma's "Project"
Behind the Scenes: Production and Management at the Teatro Ducale
The French Entertainments: Creation, Publicity, Propaganda
Moving On While Looking Back: Links, Traditions, and Traetta's First Parma Operas
The End of the End of Reform: The Wedding, The French Ambassador's Opera, Traetta's Departure
Conclusion: Reform Revisited
Appendix 1: General Chronology
Bibliography
"Broad-reaching reflections . . . help us to reach a better understanding of opera reforms in eighteenth-century Europe. Butler shows, on the basis of primary evidence, the complex interplay of curiosity and animosity resulting from the French invasion. Intriguing conclusions on the practices of adaptation as a creative and innovative process. Refreshing." Pierpaolo Polzonetti, SECM NEWSLETTER
"Musical Theater in Eighteenth-Century Parma brings a huge amount of new information and insight to the field. This book stands out most favorably in comparison to the recent literature because it treats all aspects involved in the phenomenon of musical theater: spoken theater and operatic theater are seen as points on a single continuum, embedded in the general currents of intellectual and economic politics in Parma, a small duchy with cosmopolitan ambitions." Lorenzo Bianconi, University of Bologna
"In its assembly and analysis of a great range of sources, this case study contributes greatly to our understanding of mid-eighteenth-century opera, to French-Italian cultural relations, and to institutional histories of opera. A welcome balance of close analysis of those works which have survived and...sensitive elucidation of the cultural and political context." Mark Darlow, EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY STUDIES
"Butler . . . possesses a profound knowledge of the northern Italian performance circuit in this period [and a] refreshing point of view. This volume demonstrates that [changes in operatic practices during the mid-1700s were] . . . a movement, an "esprit du temps," with different alternatives that emerge where there are large outlays of capital as well as a visionary individual able to control the theatrical production. An important contribution to the understanding of this complex period." AD PARNASSUM
"An indispensable study for anyone who hopes to glean a comprehensive understanding of eighteenth-century musical theater. Show[s] us salient aspects of the economics of theatrical productions and remind[s] us that there is a need for us as scholars to look beyond composer, librettist, and even performer in order to appreciate other members of the "production troupe" who had important roles but may not have been as visible to contemporary audiences-or to us, until now." NOTES, Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association

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9781580469012

January 2019

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9781787444225

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Title Details

196 Pages

2.28 x 1.52 cm

35 b/w, 10 line illus.

Series: Eastman Studies in Music

Series Vol. Number: 151

Imprint: University of Rochester Press