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The Autumn of Italian Opera: From Verismo to Modernism, 1890-1915 Hardcover – November 30, 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 508 pages
  • Publisher: Northeastern; First Edition edition (November 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555536832
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555536831
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.3 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,798,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“The most valuable aspect of this book is the way Mallach brings to life a group of once-popular composers who—Puccini excepted—have been consigned to the fringes of today’s repertory.”—Opera News

“Superior scholarship.”—Opera Journal


“This carefully researched and well-organized study sheds light on a critical transition period in the history of Italian opera.” (Mary Jane Phillips-Matz, author of Puccini: A Biography (NUP, 2002))

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Kearney VINE VOICE on August 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Opera during the late nineteenth/early twentieth century was, if nothing else, passionate. It was one of opera's golden ages, if not The Golden Age, when many of opera's greatest performers and conductors were in their prime. Italian opera, particularlyVerismo opera, championed by the likes of Puccini, Mascagni, and Leoncavallo to name a few, was a major part of the mix, and Alan Mallach's THE AUTUMN OF ITALIAN OPERA tells the story of what he considers, opera's last great period.

For Mallach, the story of opera during this time is more than just a story of music and the few composers of this time whose music is regularly performed today. He begins by looking at the political situation of Italy as a whole and the role opera played in the country, especially during the period of unification. In most Italian states, opera was the one thing all shared in common, and when the country went from small states to a larger whole, opera became not only a unifying force but a major export as well. He then tells of the last years of the composer many would argue was Italy's master, Giuseppe Verdi and the role he played din the hearts of the people, and the rich variety of music that came to be in his later years and after his death. He looks not just at the composers, but the story of opera during this period deals more than with the composers. He also pays attention to the librettists, publishers, singers, conductors and opera houses booth national and local, and presents a complex and fascinating tale. While he could have focused on Puccini alone with a smattering of footnotes about other composers, he seems to look at the entire musical scene. Since the majority of works from this period are not frequently performed, readers are bound to discover a wealth of new information.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By adorian on March 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a very good book for people who want more information about the rare Italian operas from 1890-1917. I especially enjoyed reading about Montemezzi's La nave, not a note of which I've ever heard. (Now I want to hear it!) It was great to read more information about why Puccini never composed the proposed Marie Antoinette opera. It was also eye-opening to encounter the names of composers I've never heard of: Cippollini, Auteri, Samara, Orefice, Bazzini, Galli, Lualdi. Did any of them leave behind hidden unknown treasures that we need to revive?

The main problem is the repetition of key points, as if the chapters were written independently of each other and then never checked to see if that point had already been driven home a few times before. It's as if in every other chapter the author feels it necessary to repeat that cinema replaced opera as the main form of entertainment...somebody needed to take over from Verdi....Puccini is better than Mascagni.

Someone with a knowledge of opera should have proofread this book. After a while, it stopped being a book you can read for information, instead becoming a search for the next glaring error. Giulio Ricordi's first name was not "Guile" (p. 235) The old woman in "Andrea Chenier"s third act gives up her grandson to the cause, not her son. (p. 99) The heroine of Giordano's "Mala vita" is sometimes called Christina, sometimes Cristina (pp 84-88) The most bizarre error is the flipflop of spelling "La Boheme" (p. 162) versus "La boheme" (p. 163) ((Pick one spelling and stick to it!))

I wish the author had at least mentioned Zandonai's "Giulietta e Romeo," the other "Cavalleria Rusticana" by Monleone or "Mirra" by Alaleona. The latter two are available on CD and are no longer unknown.
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