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Verdi's Theater: Creating Drama through Music Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0226143705 ISBN-10: 0226143708 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews Review

Gilles de Van's new book signals a heartening development in Verdi studies, which have taken some time to come out from the shadow of scholar Julian Budden's excellent work. De Van has discarded the traditional chronological approach, instead finding in Verdi's works "the irreconcilable clash of opposite": types versus characters, declamation versus song, innovation versus tradition. His main points focus on the relation of melodrama to music drama. For de Van, melodrama involves excess, ritual, stories, and gestures without the attempted reproduction of reality. Music drama is characterized by complexity, ambiguity, a detached critical approach, and the awareness of reality. He does not find a steady evolution of one to the other, but rather a varying balance in each opera. (Otello, for example, is "a hero of melodrama sucked into music drama.") This organization by concept yields a much fuller discussion of the early operas than is customary, with stops for Verdi's abandoned King Lear and his Requiem. De Van is able to make his points most persuasively in his comparison of the original and revised versions of Macbeth, Un Ballo in Maschera, and Simon Boccanegra. There is a fine section on versification of the Italian language, and de Van gives Verdi's librettists their due (though he devalues Boïto).

These considerable rewards do, however, come at a price. The translation by Gilda Roberts sometimes lapses into pop-psychology jargon, three of the musical examples have errors, and dozens of sentences need to be reread because they are so clumsy. But any author who can provide a revealing analysis of the sprawling inn scene of La Forza del Destino or a thoughtful look at the undervalued Ballo is worthy of close attention. --William R. Braun --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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