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“The Essence of Nine Trombones”

“The Essence of Nine Trombones”

Luigi Lablache and Models of Masculinity in 1830s London

(p.93) Chapter 5 “The Essence of Nine Trombones”
London Voices, 1820-1840
Sarah Hibberd
University of Chicago Press

Luigi Lablache was the most charismatic and versatile bass of the mid-nineteenth century. For London critics, his imposing physique was inseparable from the combustive power and volume of his voice on the one hand, and his sensitive personality and perceptive characterizations on the other. This chapter examines his reception in London between his 1830 debut and 1835, when he created new roles in operas by Bellini and Donizetti, and situates his reception in the context of voice and body image as they were understood at that time. Drawing on singing treatises of the period and on examples from roles written for Lablache—Giorgio in I puritani and the title role of Marino Faliero—the chapter argues that the particular combination of power and sensitivity that was seen as defining his performances related closely to new British models of masculinity emerging in cultural, political, and domestic spheres.

Keywords:   Luigi Lablache, London, Bellini, Donizetti, masculinity, breath, acting, fatherhood, Puritani Quartet

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