This chapter discusses the omitting of passages from an opera in performance and presents the history of the practice and its advantages and disadvantages. Making cuts in nineteenth-century Italian operas has a long pedigree. Most cuts introduced by thoughtful performers in the nineteenth century and in the modern world are not arbitrary manipulations of unstable texts, but rather attempts to eliminate elements considered to be least significant or characteristic for a work's aesthetic integrity and historical position. Aesthetic issues of musical quality rarely play a role in decisions about cutting recitative, but for a stage director, the effect of recitative on the coherence of the dramatic action can be crucial. It is important to measure the cuts both against the social circumstances in which operas were originally prepared and the conditions in which they are performed today.
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