THE PUCCINI COMPANION by William Weaver

THE PUCCINI COMPANION

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Puccini wins the prize for most-maligned great composer. In a fit of depressive self-deprecation, Puccini himself called his own music ``sugary,'' and the persistent popularity of his mature operas at box-offices around the world for nearly a century has too often provoked critical condescension, as if art so well-loved could not possibly be worth much. But that situation, thankfully, is changing, and this much-needed essay collection on Puccini by leading scholars of 19th- and 20th-century Italian opera is worth a good deal more than several new biographies. The volume ranges from a lengthy piece on Puccini's family by his granddaughter (one of the editors) to chapters devoted to Puccini's ``musical world'' and each of his operas by luminaries such as William Weaver, Harvey Sachs, Fedele D'Amico, Verdi heavyweights Mary Jane Phillips-Matz and Julian Budden, and William Ashbrook. A favorite: David Hamilton's expert investigation of the early Tosca recordings, especially the legendary ``Mapelson cylinders'' of live Metropolitan Opera performances from 1902-03, to see what light they shed on Puccini's original interpreters. The editors, perhaps hoping to attract non-musicologist admirers of the Luccan master, issue the disclaimer that ``this is not a work of scholarship'' (even though two of the chapters make a start on an accessible Puccini bibliography). They needn't have worried. Lovers of Puccini and Italian opera at every level of interest and knowledge will want this book. (Photographs--not seen)

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 1994
ISBN: 0-393-02930-1
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1994




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