The fields of performance studies, empirical musicology, and the musicology of recordings have seen a tremendous development in recent years, shedding new light on the recent history of our performing tradition and conveying essential information to music practitioners, critics and audiences.
This innovative work considers the notion of bel canto and the manner in which this vibrant tradition lives in the records of Luisa Tetrazzini (1871-1940), one of the most celebrated sopranos ever. Tetrazzini, whose discographic career includes about 120 recordings, belongs to that generation of inspirational performers who heralded the dawn of a new era of music appreciation, alongside such iconic figures as Enrico Caruso, Adelina Patti and Nellie Melba.
Drawing on a vast body of scholarship and a number of contemporary reviews, Massimo Zicari establishes Tetrazzini’s role in the Italian operatic tradition and its much disputed set of performing conventions. His transcriptions of her recorded interpretations from Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini and Verdi will prove invaluable to singers and conductors interested in a tradition that goes back to legendary figures such as Jenny Lind and Maria Malibran. The author also discusses her voice quality and technique, tempo flexibility, her use of vibrato and portamento—features of musical performance that question several widely-held, normative views about aesthetics and interpretative tradition.
The volume includes eighty-eight musical examples and its closing section consists of the vocal scores of thirteen operatic arias. The musical material (both examples and transcriptions) is entirely original. This unique approach seeks to combine an academic perspective with the making of the music, in the hope that the plea for originality may be enhanced by models from the past.