A Book of Operas

Henry Edward Krehbiel

A Book of Operas

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Title: A Book of Operas Their Histories, Their Plots, and Their Music
Author: Henry Edward Krehbiel
Release Date: May, 2004 [EBook #5724] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on August 17, 2002]
Edition: 10
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

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Plain text adaption by Andrew Sly.


"Old friends are best."--SELDEN.
"I love everything that's old,--old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine."--GOLDSMITH.
"Old wood to burn! Old wine to drink! Old friends to trust! Old authors to read!"--MELCHIOR.


Chapter I
"Il Barbiere di Siviglia"
First performance of Italian opera in the United States--Production of Rossini's opera in Rome, London, Paris, and New York--Thomas Phillipps and his English version--Miss Leesugg and Mrs. Holman--Emanuel Garcia and his troupe--Malibran--Early operas in America--Colman's "Spanish Barber"--Other Figaro operas--How Rossini came to Write "Il Barbiere" --The story of a fiasco--Garcia and his Spanish song--"Segui, o caro" --Giorgi-Righetti--The plot of the opera--The overture--"Ecco ridente in cielo"--"Una voce poco fà,"--Rossini and Patti--The lesson scene and what singers have done with it--Grisi, Alboni, Catalani, Bosio, Gassier, Patti, Sembrich, Melba, and Viardot--An echo of Haydn.

Chapter II
"Le Nozze di Figaro"
Beaumarchais and his Figaro comedies--"Le Nozze" a sequel to "Il Barbiere"--Mozart and Rossini--Their operas compared--Opposition to Beaumarchais's "Marriage de Figaro"--Moral grossness of Mozart's opera--A relic of feudalism--Humor of the horns--A merry overture --The story of the opera--Cherubino,--"Non so più cosa son"-- Benucci and the air "Non più andrai"--"Voi che sapete"--A marvellous finale--The song to the zephyr--A Spanish fandango--"Deh vieni non tardar."

Chapter III
"Die Zauberfl?te"
The oldest German opera current in America--Beethoven's appreciation of Mozart's opera--Its Teutonism--Otto Jahn's estimate--Papageno, the German Punch--Emanuel Schikaneder--Wieland and the original of the story of the opera--How "Die Zanberfl?te" came to be written--The story of "Lulu"--Mozart and freemasonry--The overture to the opera-- The fugue theme and a theme from a sonata by Clementi--The opera's play--"O Isis und Osiris"--"Hellish rage" and fiorituri--The song of the Two Men in Armor--Goethe and the libretto of "Die Zauberfl?te"-- How the opera should be viewed.

Chapter IV
"Don Giovanni"
The oldest Italian operas in the American repertory--Mozart as an influence--What great composers have said about "Don Giovanni,"-- Beethoven--Rossini--Gounod--Wagner--History of the opera--Da Ponte's pilferings--Bertati and Gazzaniga's "Convitato di Pietra"--How the overture to "Don Giovanni" was written--First performances of the opera in Prague, Vienna, London, and New York--Garcia and Da Ponte --Malibran--English versions of the opera--The Spanish tale of Don Juan Tenorio--Dramatic versions--The tragical note in the overture --The plot of the opera--Gounod on the beautiful in Mozart's music --Leporello's catalogue--"Batti, batti o bel Masetto"--The three dances in the first finale--The last scene--Mozart quotes from his contemporaries--The original close of the opera.

Chapter V
An opera based on conjugal love--"Fidelio," "Orfeo," and "Alceste"-- Beethoven a Sincere moralist--Technical history of "Fidelio,"--The subject treated by Pa?r and Gaveaux--Beethoven's commission--The first performance a failure--A revision by the composer's friends-- The second trial--Beethoven withdraws his opera--A second revision --The revival of 1814--Success at last--First performances in London and New York--The opera enriched by a ballet--Plot of "Fidelio"-- The first duet--The canon quartet--A dramatic trio--Milder-Hauptmann and the great scena--Florestan's air--The trumpet call--The opera's four overtures--Their history.

Chapter VI
The love story in Gounod's opera--Ancient bondsmen of the devil-- Zoroaster, Democritus, Empedocles, Apollonius, Virgil, Albertus Magnus, Merlin, Paracelsus, Theophilus of Syracuse,--The myth-making capacity--Bismarck and the needle-gun--Printing, a black art--Johann Fust of Mayence--The veritable Faust--Testimony of Luther and Melanchthon--The literary history of Dr. Faustus--Goethe and his predecessors--Faust's covenant with Mephistopheles--Dr. Faustus and matrimony--The Polish Faust--The devil refuses to marry Madame Twardowska--History of Gounod's opera--The first performance-- Popularity of the opera--First productions in London and New York-- The story--Marguerite and Gretchen--The jewel song--The ballet.

Chapter VII
Music in the mediaeval Faust plays--Early operas on the subject-- Meyerbeer and Goethe's poem--Composers of Faust music--Beethoven-- Boito's reverence
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