This book is the first to examine in depth the contributions of major British authors such as W. H. Auden and E. M. Forster, as critics and librettists, to the rise of British opera in the twentieth century. The perceived literary values of British authors, as much as the musical innovations of British composers, informed the aesthetic development of British opera. Indeed, British opera emerged as a simultaneously literary and musical project. Too often, operatic adaptations are compared superficially to their original sources. This is a particular problem for British opera, which has become increasingly defined artistically by the literary sophistication of its narrative sources. The resulting collaborations between literary figures and composers have crucial implications for the development of both opera and literature. Twentieth-Century British Authors and the Rise of Opera in Britain reveals the importance of this literary involvement in operatic adaptation to literature and literary studies, to music and musicology, and to cultural and theoretical studies.
’… (an) excellent book …With marvellous subtlety, careful argumentation and incisive literary critique, Morra explicates the unique interplays, synergies and tensions between literary source, librettist, composer and performance that attend the creation of every opera. … It is Morra's considerable achievement to have navigated this difficult and contentious terrain with verve, clarity and decisiveness …’ Times Literary Supplement
Contents: Preface; Introduction; Drama, verse and the musical libretto; Nation, modernity and the operatic stage; The muddying of the wells; Conclusion; Works consulted; Index.