Italian music

italian_operaOpera as a music genre was born in Italy in the 17th century. Italian composers dominated this art form for a long time and even after competing opera styles became popular due to the efforts of German, French and Russian geniuses much of the appeal of Italy’s most prominent contribution to classical music remains firmly in place. The grandeur of Italian opera houses created a culture of sophistication that is only understood and appreciated by some, but any modern opera company feels the pressure from connoisseurs to always have at least one Italian masterpiece. Here are the very best of Italian operas that have been running for many decades.

The Barber of Seville, or The Futile Precaution
(Italian: Il barbiere di Siviglia, ossia L’inutile precauzione)

This opera buffo (a comedic opera) by Gioachino Rossini first premiered in 1816. It is arguably the most well known opera in the world. The main character, a barber, represents a popular comic archetype of a successful trickster, well established in folklore and ancient theatre. [click to continue…]

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In March 1900, Notes and queries, a veritable cornucopia of curiosities, published a brief note entitled “Dedication by Author to Himself”, which in turn quoted an announcement in the Corriere della Sera from 15-16 of January regarding Pietro Mascagni’s intent to dedicate his new opera Le Maschere to none other but himself: A me stesso, con immensa stima e immutabile affetto. “Surely this is almost unique,” concluded the magazine’s correspondent.

The joke must have been short lived, as I do not see this phrase in modern editions of the opera’s libretto. Only English-language collections of quotes and anecdotes faithfully reprint this dedication. For some time it seemed to me that the whole thing was due to some sort of misunderstanding and that the author changed his mind before publishing the score. However, I was eventually able to find this image of a libretto cover that bears the quote almost verbatim: A me stesso con grande stima ed immutabile affetto – To myself, with great respect and unchanging affection.

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