Musical Theater in Eighteenth-Century Parma

January 2019
35 black and white, 10 line illustrations
196 pages
9x6 in
Eastman Studies in Music
ISBN: 9781580469012
Format: Hardback
University of Rochester Press
BISAC MUS028000, DRA004030, HIS037050

Musical Theater in Eighteenth-Century Parma

Entertainment, Sovereignty, Reform

Margaret R. Butler

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 given opera'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 of Musicology at the University of Florida and visiting associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Table of Contents

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

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