Rossini and Post-Napoleonic Europe

October 2015
15 black and white illustrations
254 pages
9x6 in
Eastman Studies in Music
ISBN: 9781580465304
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BISAC MUS020000, MUS028000, HIS037060

Rossini and Post-Napoleonic Europe

Warren Roberts

Warren Roberts has discovered a Rossini that others have not seen, a composer who commented ironically and satirically on religion and politics in Post-Napoleonic Europe.
This book examines Rossini within the context of his own time, one of Napoleonic domination of Italy, restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in Naples in 1815, and the 1830 Revolution in Paris. Using the techniques of the historian, and reading librettos as texts, the author analyzes the five operas treated in detail in the book (Il barbiere di Siviglia, Cenerentola, La gazza ladra, Matilde di Shabran, and Il viaggio a Reims) as responses, each in its own way, to the history that the composer experienced. Roberts shows that Rossini made probing commentaries on politics and religion in a time of reaction and revolution, and that the composer was well-informed on post-Napoleonic politics. Rossini's comic writing served very serious purposes, exposing the problems and complications of an age that he observed with striking clarity.

Warren Roberts is Professor Emeritus of History at the University at Albany, SUNY, and has published extensively on eighteenth-century French culture.

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Table of Contents

Setting the Stage: Opera Buffa and Comedy of Manners in an Age of Democratic Revolution
Rossini, Mozart, Paisiello, and the Barber of Seville
Jane Austen, Goya, Rossini, and the Post-Napoleonic Age: La Cenerentola
Rossini, Beethoven, and Rescue Opera: Fidelio and La gazza ladra
Rossini, Ferretti, Matilde di Shabran, and the Revolution of 1820-21
Stendhal and Rossini in Paris: Il viaggio a Reims, Le Comte Ory, and the July Revolution
Conclusion: Thinking about Rossini


Astounding...Unique in its historical approach, which, by confronting artistic creativity, contemporary historical developments, and socio-political contexts, provides a priceless key for anyone interested in analyzing the early-eighteenth-century milieu thanks to which Rossini became (as Stendhal put it) "the Napoleon of a musical era." AD PARNASSUM [Federico Gon]

Takes a unique approach to Gioachino Rossini and five of his operas. The author puts the operas in historical context and argues that they could have been written only in a post-revolutionary Napoleonic age. Roberts calls these works operas of the historical present. Rossini is responding to the sociological and ideological currents of the times. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers. CHOICE

Rossini and Post-Napoleonic Europe is a very original and enterprising project -- one, I think, which could only have been undertaken by a historian. It is a most valuable addition to the literature on Rossini. --Anthony Arblaster, author of Viva la Libertà! Politics in Opera

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