Opera, Theatrical Culture and Society in Late Eighteenth-Century Naples: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Opera, Theatrical Culture and Society in Late Eighteenth-Century Naples

1st Edition

By Anthony R. DelDonna


340 pages

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The operatic culture of late eighteenth-century Naples represents the fullest expression of a matrix of creators, practitioners, theorists, patrons, and entrepreneurs linking aristocratic, public and religious spheres of contemporary society. The considerable resonance of 'Neapolitan' opera in Europe was verified early in the eighteenth century not only through voluminous reports offered by locals and visitors in gazettes, newspapers, correspondence or diaries, but also, and more importantly, through the rich and tangible artistic patrimony produced for local audiences and then exported to the Italian peninsula and abroad. Naples was not simply a city of entertainment, but rather a cultural epicenter and paradigm producing highly innovative and successful genres of stage drama reflecting every facet of contemporary society. Anthony R. DelDonna provides a rich study of operatic culture from 1775-1800. The book demonstrates how contemporary stage traditions, stimulated by the Enlightenment, engaged with and responded to the changing social, political, and artistic contexts of the late eighteenth century in Naples. It focuses on select yet representative compositions from different genres of opera that illuminate the diverse contemporary cultural forces shaping these works and underlining the continued innovation and European recognition of operatic culture in Naples. It also defines how the cultural milieu of Naples - aristocratic and sacred, private and public - exercises a profound yet idiosyncratic influence on the repertory studied, the creation of which could not have occurred elsewhere on the Continent.


’All lovers of music theatre will welcome this book dealing with the development of opera and ballet in late eighteenth-century Naples, then one of the leading music centres in the Western world. Naples’ contribution to opera is well known, but its place in the development of ballet is less well documented. It is to DelDonna’s great credit that he gives ballet its rightful place in the history of theatre in the city. Concentrating on a few carefully selected operas and ballets, DelDonna highlights the theatrical politics of the time, the aims of the various dramatists, choreographers and musicians working in Naples, and the significance of the results they obtained.’ Michael Robinson, Cardiff University, UK ’Focusing on relevant episodes of the late eighteenth century, DelDonna provides insight into the most delicate phase of the golden age of Neapolitan theatre. The southern capital’s reputation as a major centre for musical and theatrical activities was firmly acknowledged and destined to last over the centuries; but Naples was also a centre for innovation, discussion of formulas, and promotion of new genres, which demonstrated a fascinating experimental attitude. DelDonna’s book reconstructs the vitality and prestige, which contributed to the rise and establishment of the Neapolitan myth.’ Francesco Cotticelli, Seconda Università degli Studi di Napoli, Italy '… in conclusione, il vero pregio di questo volume, che risiede nella capacità di offrire solide sintesi di interi decenni di vita culturale napoletana e di incentivare il distanziamento da quell’autoreferenzialità disciplinare che spesso impedisce di connettere in rapporto dialettico vita sociale e melodrammaturgia, musica e storia, arte e politica.' [… in conclusion, the value of this volume resides in its capacity to offer robust syntheses of entire decades of Neapolitan cultural life while also encouraging a turning away from the disciplinary auto-referentiality that often i

About the Author

Anthony R. DelDonna, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Musicology and Director of the Music Program at Georgetown University. He is a specialist in eighteenth-century topics, in particular Neapolitan music, musicians and culture. Professor DelDonna’s research has focused primarily on opera, archival studies, performance practice and ballet, and has been published in the peer-reviewed journals, Early Music, Eighteenth-Century Music, Eighteenth-Century Studies, Recercare, Studi musicali and Civiltà musicale and in various scholarly collections on eighteenth-century music. He is the co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to Eighteenth-Century Opera (with Pierpaolo Polzonetti; 2009) and editor for Genre in Eighteenth-Century Music (2008). Professor DelDonna is the co-editor (with Anna Celenza) of the forthcoming book, In Pursuit of a Cultural Mission: The Jesuits and Music and a collection of clarinet and piano transcriptions by Ferdinando Sebastiani (with Antonio Caroccia for Castejon Music Editions) as well as a forthcoming critical edition of the oratorio Trionfo per l’Assunzione della Santissima Vergine for the series Fondazione Arcadia.

About the Series

Ashgate Interdisciplinary Studies in Opera

Ashgate Interdisciplinary Studies in Opera
The Ashgate Interdisciplinary Studies in Opera series provides a centralized and prominent forum for the presentation of cutting-edge scholarship that draws on numerous disciplinary approaches to a wide range of subjects associated with the creation, performance, and reception of opera (and related genres) in various historical and social contexts. There is great need for a broader approach to scholarship about opera. In recent years, the course of study has developed significantly, going beyond traditional musicological approaches to reflect new perspectives from literary criticism and comparative literature, cultural history, philosophy, art history, theatre history, gender studies, film studies, political science, philology, psycho-analysis, and medicine. The new brands of scholarship have allowed a more comprehensive interrogation of the complex nexus of means of artistic expression operative in opera, one that has meaningfully challenged prevalent historicist and formalist musical approaches. The Ashgate Interdisciplinary Studies in Opera series continues to move this important trend forward by including essay collections and monographs that reflect the ever-increasing interest in opera in non-musical contexts. Books in the series are linked by their emphasis on the study of a single genre - opera - yet are distinguished by their individualized and novel approaches by scholars from various disciplines/fields of inquiry. The remit of the series welcomes studies of seventeenth century to contemporary opera from all geographical locations, including non-Western topics.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / Genres & Styles / Opera