Grout has always had an understandable interest in Berlioz's Les troyens , a work that many consider one of the masterpieces of French grand opera.
But it was virtually an unknown quantity during the s, despite a BBC broadcast conducted by Thomas Beecham, later released on LP. Though several complete commercial recordings now exist, the first studio recording did not take place until Thus, the following statement from the first edition seems appropriate for the time of publication , 2 although it does demonstrate a desire by the author to dictate taste: "it would seem that Les troyens ought to be produced regularly at state expense until singers, conductors, and public are brought to realize its greatness.
Of all the works of the French grand-opera school in the nineteenth century, this is the one most worthy of being so preserved" [End Page ] p. In the second edition, this statement was changed to read: "But public or no public, the work ought to be produced regularly at state expense until conductors, singers and audiences are brought to realize its greatness" p.
This statement was retained in the third edition, with the words "at state expense" removed p. Even though audiences in most major opera centers have now had the opportunity to judge the opera for themselves, and at least three commercial recordings and countless pirates of live performances are available, 3 this statement can still be found on page , where it seems both out of place and behind the times.
A Short History of Opera - Donald Jay Grout - Google книги
Also in the first edition, Grout displayed a much less understandable disdain for Flotow's once extremely popular Martha. This disdain is apparently shared by many operatic opinion leaders, but it makes little sense to those ordinary operagoers who know the work well from live performances or recordings and have found much to enjoy in it. The almost identical wording "which" having been changed to "that" can be found in the present edition p. For a book aiming to give a basic grounding in opera, A Short History of Opera demonstrates a peculiar, or at least highly individual, sense of proportion.
Thus the coverage of Verdi in the fourth edition is quite a bit less than I expected fourteen pages for Verdi, versus nineteen for Gluck and thirty-six for Wagner.
A Short History of Opera
A comparison of the treatment afforded to Verdi and Wagner illustrates this point dramatically. Each of the three early Wagner operas— Die Feen , Das Liebesverbot with only cosmetic changes between the first and fourth editions , and Rienzi —gets at least a full paragraph. Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.
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