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Divas and ScholarsPerforming Italian Opera$
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Philip Gossett

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780226304823

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226304885.001.0001

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Setting the Stage

Setting the Stage

(p.33) 2 Setting the Stage
Divas and Scholars
University of Chicago Press

Opera was at the center of Italian culture throughout the first half of the nineteenth century. Fundamental to most Italian opera houses during the first half of the nineteenth century was the operatic season. There were ample opportunities for composers to ply their trade. However, complaints about the terrible conditions under which Italian composers were expected to function—the dreadful pressure and impossible deadlines—must be put into context. It is true that Il barbiere di Siviglia was composed, rehearsed, and performed in less than a month, and so were L'Italiana in Algeri and La sonnambula. During the eighteenth century, composers typically set the same basic libretto again and again. However, early in the nineteenth century, new librettos were generally written for most Italian operas. Italian librettos, in the latter part of the nineteenth century, were almost always written exclusively in poetry, not in prose, and the poetry was governed by specific rules.

Keywords:   Italian opera, operatic season, Italian composers, Il barbiere di Siviglia, L'Italiana in Algeri, La sonnambula, libretto, poetry

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