Verdi in America

September 2011
66 black and white illustrations
494 pages
9x6 in
Eastman Studies in Music
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BISAC MUS020000, MUS028000, MUS050000

Verdi in America

Oberto through Rigoletto

George W. Martin

A renowned Verdi authority offers here the often-astounding first history of how Verdi's early operas -- including one of his great masterpieces, Rigoletto -- made their way into America's musical life.
The operas of Giuseppe Verdi stand at the center of today's operatic repertoire, and have done so for more than a century. The story of how the reputation and wide appeal of these operas spread from Western Europe throughout the world has long needed to be told. This latest book by noted Verdi authority George W. Martin, Verdi in America: Oberto through Rigoletto, specifically details the changing fortunes of Verdi's early operas in the theaters and concert halls of the United States.
Among the important works whose fates Martin traces are Nabucco, Attila, Ernani, Macbeth (in its original version), Luisa Miller, and one of Verdi's immortal masterpieces: Rigoletto, denounced in 1860 as the epitome of immorality.
Martin also explores the astonishing revival of many of these operas in the 1940s and onward (including Macbeth in its revised version of 1865), and the first American productions-sometimes in small opera houses outside the main circuit of some Verdi operas that had never previously managed to cross the Atlantic. Extensive quotations from newspaper reviews testify to the eventual triumph of these remarkable works. They also reveal the crucial shifts in tastes and expectations that have occurred from Verdi's day to our own.

Independent scholar George W. Martin is the author of several books on Italian opera, including Verdi, His Music, Life and Times, Verdi at the Golden Gate: Opera and San Francisco in the Gold Rush Years, and Aspects of Verdi.

Table of Contents

I Lombardi alla prima crociata
I due Foscari
The Country's Growth Stimulates Opera
I masnadieri
Luisa Miller
Opera on Tour and the Rise of Regional Companies
Un giorno di regno
Giovanna d'Arco
Il corsaro
La battaglia di Legnano
Appendix A: The Operas, Their World, Western Hemisphere, and U.S. Premieres
Appendix B: The Swift Spread of Ernani
Appendix C: Dollar Values and Populations
Appendix D: The San Carlo Touring Company: Repertory and Number ofPerformances, 1913/14 through 1928/29
Appendix E: Number of Performances of Verdi's Operas at the Metropolitan, 1883/84 through 2008/9
Appendix F: An Arrangement, a Reduction, and the Score as Written: Stiffelio


Martin's most comprehensive study on this subject to date. It reflects an awareness of how Verdi's reception outside Italy has influenced our understanding of the complex and fascinating legends and legacies surrounding his career. Martin's aim to shed light on the historical context behind the Verdi productions produces some of the most intriguing aspects of the book. MUSIC & LETTERS [Chloe Valenti]

A tour de force. . . . Succeeds extraordinarily in achieving his stated goals. A vibrant book that is filled with enough detailed information on Verdi's operas to satisfy a researcher's needs, but is also readily accessible to the general operagoer. JOURNAL OF THE SOCIETY FOR AMERICAN MUSIC [John Graziano]

A unique panorama of Verdi's early operas and American operatic practice, past and present. . . . Martin's discussions of each opera illuminate historical trends that are often overlooked. . . . Perhaps most valuable are Martin's discussions of . . . a network of smaller companies, venues, and concert series that are rarely, if ever examined. . . . Methodologically unique, illuminating for the first time the transformation of operatic practice (in America) from the mid-nineteenth century through the current day. . . . A student of American opera, American musical institutions, and Giuseppe Verdi should consider George W. Martin's book required reading, and its dual functionality as both a reference book and monograph makes it a particularly useful addition to the library shelf. MUSIC REFERENCE SERVICES QUARTERLY [Christopher Lynch]

Keen insight. . . . A history of the early American operatic stage through the prism of Verdi's early works. Especially pertinent is information on many of the US's most important regional opera house -- material unavailable elsewhere -- and [on the] recording histories of the operas. . . . Deeply edifying. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. CHOICE [S. C. Champagne]

Offers informed, trenchant assessments of important Met stagings. . . . Especially insightful about the work of regional companies. . . . Martin's effort combines a critic's eye, a scholar's rigor and a fan's enthusiasm. OPERA NEWS [Fred Cohn]

Informative and filled with engaging materials and useful data. . . . Provides a wealth of details about how different religious beliefs in different areas created barriers against opera. CAMBRIDGE OPERA JOURNAL [Claudio Vellutini]

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