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Opera and Vivaldi

Opera and Vivaldi

A collection of papers on Baroque opera, discussing the operatic works of Vivaldi, Handel, and other Baroque composers as well as the characteristics of the genre.

July 1984
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408 pages | 6 x 9 |

From the New York Times review of the Dallas Opera's performance of Orlando furioso and the international symposium on Baroque opera:

". . . it was a serious, thoughtful, consistent and imaginative realization of a beautiful, long-neglected work, one that fully deserved all the loving attention it received. As such, the production and its attendant symposium made a positive contribution to the cause of Baroque opera . . . . "

Baroque opera experienced a revival in the late twentieth century. Its popularity, however, has given rise to a number of perplexing and exciting questions regarding literary sources, librettos, theater design, set design, stage movement, and costumes—even the editing of the operas.

In 1980, the Dallas Opera produced the American premier of Vivaldi's Orlando furioso, which met with much acclaim. Concurrently an international symposium on the subject of Baroque opera was held at Southern Methodist University. Authorities from around the world met to discuss the operatic works of Vivaldi, Handel, and other Baroque composers as well as the characteristics of the genre. Michael Collins and Elise Kirk, deputy chair and chair of the symposium, edited the papers to produce this groundbreaking study, which will be of great interest to music scholars and opera lovers throughout the world.

Contributors to Opera and Vivaldi include Shirley Wynne, John Walter Hill, Andrew Porter, Eleanor Selfridge-Field, Howard Mayer Brown, William Holmes, Ellen Rosand, and the editors.

  • Introduction. Vivaldi’s Orlando furioso: The Dallas Opera Production and Symposium, by Elise K. Kirk
  • Part I. Literary Sources and Their Transformation into Opera
    • Dramatic Theory and the Italian Baroque Libretto, by Michael Collins
    • Mythological Subjects in Opera Seria, by Sven Hansell
    • Ariosto and the Oral Tradition, by C. Peter Brand
    • Ariosto’s Orlando and Opera Seria, by Gary Schmidgall
    • Orlando in Seicento Venice: The Road Not Taken, by Ellen Rosand
    • Eighteenth-Century Orlando: Hero, Satyr, and Fool, by Ellen T. Harris
  • Part II. Venetian Opera in Its Cultural Milieu
    • Venetian Theaters during Vivaldi’s Era, by William C. Holmes
    • Costume in the Frescoes of Tiepolo and Eighteenth-Century Italian Opera, by William L. Barcham
    • Baroque Manners and Passions in Modern Performance, by Shirley Wynne
    • Opera Criticism and the Venetian Press, by Eleanor Selfridge-Field
  • Part III. The Practice of Opera Seria
    • Voice Register as an Index of Age and Status in Opera Seria, by Roger Covell
    • Cadential Structures and Accompanimental Practices in Eighteenth-Century Italian Recitative, by Michael Collins
    • Declamation and Expressive Singing in Recitative, by Mary Cyr
    • Embellishing Eighteenth-Century Arias: On Cadenzas, by Howard Mayer Brown
  • Part IV. Vivaldi as Dramatic Composer
    • The Relationship between Text and Music in the Operas of Vivaldi, by Eric Cross
    • Vivaldi as Self-Borrower, by Klaus Kropfinger
    • Vivaldi’s Orlando: Sources and Contributing Factors, by John Walter Hill
  • Part V. Baroque Opera Today
    • Preparing the Critical Edition: An Interview with Alan Curtis, by Marita P. McClymonds
    • Opera Seria Today: A Credo, by Andrew Porter
  • Appendix. Grazio Braccioli’s Orlando furioso: A History and Synopsis of the Libretto, by Michael Collins
  • Contributors
  • Index

Michael Collins (1930–2011) was Professor of Music at the University of North Texas. Elise K. Kirk is the former director of research projects for the Dallas Opera and has written several books on American music.