Verdi in Victorian London

Verdi in Victorian London Massimo Zicari
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Read Massimo Zicari's blog post: Do Composers Live in a Bubble? on the OBP

Now a byword for beauty, Verdiís operas were far from universally acclaimed when they reached London in the second half of the nineteenth century. Why did some critics react so harshly? Who were they and what biases and prejudices animated them? When did their antagonistic attitude change? And why did opera managers continue to produce Verdiís operas, in spite of their alleged worthlessness?
Massimo Zicariís Verdi in Victorian London reconstructs the reception of Verdiís operas in London from 1844, when a first critical account was published in the pages of The Athenaeum, to 1901, when Verdiís death received extensive tribute in The Musical Times. In the 1840s, certain London journalists were positively hostile towards the most talked-about representative of Italian opera, only to change their tune in the years to come. The supercilious critic of The Athenaeum, Henry Fothergill Chorley, declared that Verdiís melodies were worn, hackneyed and meaningless, his harmonies and progressions crude, his orchestration noisy. The scribes of The Times, The Musical World, The Illustrated London News, and The Musical Times all contributed to the critical hubbub.
Yet by the 1850s, Victorian critics, however grudging, could neither deny nor ignore the popularity of Verdiís operas. Over the final three decades of the nineteenth century, moreover, Londonís musical milieu underwent changes of great magnitude, shifting the manner in which Verdi was conceptualized and making room for the powerful influence of Wagner. Nostalgic commentators began to lament the sad state of the Land of Song, referring to the now departed "palmy days of Italian opera." Zicari charts this entire cultural constellation.
Verdi in Victorian London is required reading for both academics and opera aficionados. Music specialists will value a historical reconstruction that stems from a large body of first-hand source material, while Verdi lovers and Italian opera addicts will enjoy vivid analysis free from technical jargon. For students, scholars and plain readers alike, this book is an illuminating addition to the study of music reception.

Cantone Ticino (Aiuto federale per la salvaguardia e promozione della lingua e cultura italiana) and Fondazione Fabio Schaub (Canobbio - Ticino) have generously contributed towards the publication of this volume.

Verdi in Victorian London
Massimo Zicari | July 2016
360 | 18 colour illustrations | 6.14" x 9.21" (234 x 156 mm)
ISBN Paperback: 9781783742134
ISBN Hardback: 9781783742141
ISBN Digital (PDF): 9781783742158
ISBN Digital ebook (epub): 9781783742165
ISBN Digital ebook (mobi): 9781783742172
DOI: 10.11647/OBP.0090
BIC subject codes: AVA (Theory of music and musicology) | AVC (Music reviews & criticism) | AVGC5 Romantic music (c 1830 to c 1900) | AVGC9 (Opera)

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List of Illustrations

1. Music Journalism in Early Victorian London
2. Ernani (1845)
3. Nabucco and I Lombardi (1846)
4. I due Foscari and I masnadieri (1847)
5. Attila (1848)
6. Uneventful Years: 1849Ė1852
7. Rigoletto (1853)
8. Il trovatore (1855)
9. A Moral Case: The Outburst of La traviata (1856)
10. Luisa Miller (1858)
11. I vespri siciliani (1859)
12. The Years 1860 and 1861: Un ballo in maschera
13. Inno delle nazioni (1862)
14. Don Carlos and La forza del destino (1867)
15. The Late 1860s and Wagnerís LíOlandese dannato (1870)
16. Verdiís Requiem and Wagnerís Lohengrin (1875)
17. Aida (1876)
18. Music Journalism in London: The Late 1870s and 1880s
19. Otello at the Royal Lyceum (1889)
20. Falstaff at Covent Garden (1894)

Appendix I: Verdiís Premieres in London
Appendix II: Verdi and Wagner in London
Appendix III: The Periodicals
Select Bibliography

Massimo Zicari
flautist and musicologist, is Deputy Head of Research at the University School of Music (Conservatorio della Svizzera italiana) in Lugano, where he also teaches music history since 2005. In 2009 he was visiting Fellow at the Institute of Musical Research, School of Advanced Studies, University of London, for a project concerning the reception of Verdiís Operas in London. His studies focus mainly on opera reception but include also research areas such as acoustics and performance science. His publications have appeared in Italy, Spain, Switzerland, the United States of America, Australia and Romania. His most recent contributions include (with J. MacRitchie, et al.), 'Trumpet Mouthpiece Manufacturing and Tone Quality', Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 134 (5), November 2013, pp. 3872Ė86; 'Un caso di moralitŗ: La Traviata nella Londra Vittoriana (1856)', Musica/Realtŗ, 103, Marzo 2014; Massimo Zicari, 'Giuseppe Verdi in Victorian London,' Studia Musica, LVII (2), 2012, pp. 153-62; MacRitchie, J. and Zicari, M. (2012), 'The Intentions of Piano Touch', in E. Cambouropoulos, C. Tsougras, P. Mavromatis and K. Pastiadis (eds.), Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition (ICMPC) and the 8th Triennial Conference of the ESCOM, July 23-28, 2012, Thessaloniki, Greece;  'La prima recezione di Giuseppe Verdi a Londra: Henry Fothergill Chorley e líAthenaeum', in Schweizer Jahrbuch fŁr Musikwissenschaft (2011).