The University of Chicago Press, 2006
In this brilliant work dedicated to Italian opera, or more precisely to the staging of works by Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi, Philip Gossett explains in detail the composition process of the 19th century melodrama and the main events and elements which caracterized this particular and flourishing musical period. Thanks to its unique expertise and erudition, Gossett ranges from anecdote (it may be ironic, critical or clarifier) to specialism, creating exhtensive work, extremely rich and enlightening.
The guiding thread of Divas and Scholars concerns the difficulties of staging an opera. Gossett explains how to carry out a critical edition, reminding of the positive and negative aspects (with a preponderance of the latter). He starts from the compositional process adopted by each composer to pass to the observation of differences between manuscripts and various editions and the errors accumulated by tradition. He also insists upon the difficult acceptance of the new edition by aficionados of the erroneous tradition. The narrative of several symbolic representations show in practice what has been expressed in theory.
In Divas and Scholars there is a lively taste for controversy, supported by good reasons and extraordinary lucidity, and this is the tone that gives this book its particular aspect.