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Article

Julian Budden

(b Verona, Nov 4, 1878; d Milan, Oct 12, 1946). Italian playwright, librettist and journalist . After graduating in law at the University of Padua he devoted himself to literature, first as theatre critic of the Arena (Verona), then as playwright. His first stage work was the one-act comedy I fioi di Goldoni in Venetian dialect; thereafter he proved remarkably successful in a comic-sentimental vein with such plays as Una capanna e il tuo cuore (1913), Capelli bianchi (1915), Felicità Colombo (1935) and its sequel Nonna Felicità (1936). In 1911 he made the acquaintance of Giulio Ricordi, head of the publishing firm, of whom he left a valuable memoir in his Giulio Ricordi e i suoi musicisti (Milan, 1933, 2/1945 as Giulio Ricordi, amico dei musicisti). It was Ricordi who first put him in touch with Puccini, who briefly considered setting his Spanish-derived libretto ...

Article

Jérôme de La Gorce

(b Orléans, c1670; d Paris, 1745). French dramatist. After writing four tragedies for the Thé âtre Français, she is thought to have collaborated with the Abbé Pellegrin, who gave her advice, on several librettos: Les fêtes de l’été (1716), set by Montéclair, and Le judgement de Pâris...

Article

John Tyrrell

(b Prague, Dec 14, 1868; d Vienna, April 24, 1922). Austrian critic and writer of Czech descent . After graduating in German and musicology at the German University in Prague he worked as an editor (Neue Revue, Kunstwart) and as a music critic (Bohemia, Prager Tagblatt). In 1908 he moved to Vienna, where he continued his activities, editing Der Merker with Richard Specht and writing reviews for the Wiener Fremdenblatt. He also taught history of opera at the academy (1909–14). His publications include Aus der Opernwelt: Prager Kritiken und Skizzen (Munich, 1907) and Allgemeine Geschichte der Musik (Stuttgart, 1909–15). In addition to his writings on music, where he was one of the first German-speaking writers to deal with Czech music, he translated Czech, Italian and French operas into German, and wrote several opera librettos himself.

Der polnische Jude (with V. Léon...

Article

Luca Zoppelli

(b Filettole, nr Prato, Aug 10, 1877; d Zoagli, Dec 18, 1949). Italian dramatist . After working as a journalist, he wrote a successful comedy, Tignola, but thereafter turned to historical tragedies in hendecasyllabic verse set in the Italian Middle Ages and Renaissance, in the manner of D’Annunzio. La cena della beffe won international acclaim; it and five others were set as operas by Italian composers. After a period of adherence to Fascism (he sat in Parliament from 1921 until the murder of Matteotti in 1924) Benelli distanced himself from the regime and concentrated on writing plays with philosophical themes. He emigrated to Switzerland but returned to Italy after the end of World War II.

L’amore dei tre re, Montemezzi, 1913; Il mantellaccio, Setaccioli, comp. 1913, broadcast 1954; La cena delle beffe, Giordano, 1924; Rosmunda, E. Trentinaglia, 1929; Gorgona, L. Landi, comp. c1933; Proserpina, R. Bianchi, 1938...

Article

Christopher Smith

(b Douai, Aug 29, 1789; d Paris, March 3, 1855). French dramatist . While a clerk in the Droits Réunis in Lille he published pamphlets attacking the restored Bourbon monarchy, and was transferred to the Ministère des Finances in Paris. His first dramatic work, the tragedy Lothaire, written in collaboration with one F. Hay, was published in 1817 but not performed. Attila, a five-act verse tragedy, opened to acclaim at the Odéon, Paris, on 26 April 1822; its success, however, was probably due to Mlle George’s acting and to some propaganda that led to the banning of the tragedy. Blanche d’Aquitaine (Comedie-Française, 29 October 1827) also had marked political leanings; this play was probably the source upon which Felice Romani based his libretto for Donizetti’s Ugo, conte di Parigi (1832). Though not a particularly proficient playwright, Bis was called on to shorten Etienne de Jouy’s version of Schiller’s drama for Rossini’s ...

Article

[Dionysus Lardner ]

(b Dublin, Dec 26, 1820 or 1822; d New York, Sept 18, 1890). Irish dramatist . Known primarily as an actor, he played regularly in New York and London from the 1850s, excelling in his depictions of Irish heroes. Though nearly all his dramatic works were adaptations, they were often brilliantly constructed. His most successful pieces were London Assurance (1841, produced under the pseudonym Lee Morton); The Colleen Bawn, or The Brides of Garryowen (1860, after G. Griffin: The Collegians, or The Colleen Bawn), later adapted by Boucicault and John Oxenford as the libretto for Benedict’s opera The Lily of Killarney (1862); and Arrah-na-Pogue (1865). With B. N. Webster Boucicault adapted an opéra comique by Ambroise Thomas, Le panier fleuri, for London, as The Fox and the Goose, or The Widow’s Husband (1844, Adelphi Theatre).

DNB (J. Knight) J. W. Cole...

Article

Alison Stonehouse

(b Albi, 1618; d Paris, July 22, 1688). French dramatist . Over a period of 50 years he wrote 23 plays, 14 of them tragedies, the rest machine-plays and comedies. He wrote the libretto for one opera, Méduse (C. H. Gervais, 1697); mainly in alexandrine verse, its plot revolves around Medusa’s love for Perseus and her jealous reaction to his love for Ismene. Boyer viewed Méduse as a tragedy set to music–a play to which intermèdes were added and in which spectacle was an important element. There are similarities with Metastasian drama in his plays Artaxerce, Porus, ou La générosité d’Alexandre and La mort de Démétrius; the last is echoed in Metastasio’s Antigono rather than Demetrio. Boyer’s Agamemnon was the source for the opera Cassandre (1706, Paris; music by Bouvard and Bertin de la Doué, libretto by Lagrange- Chancel), and Ulysse shows parallels with Rebel’s opera of the same name (...

Article

Thomas Bauman

(b Stettin [now Szczecin], Nov 15, 1735; d Berlin, Nov 10, 1799). German playwright. He fled his family business at the age of 18 and eventually joined an itinerant theatrical company. He was an indifferent actor but won considerable popularity as a playwright. In May 1772 he and his actress wife Charlotte, then both with the Seyler company in Weimar, saw the first German melodrama, Anton Schweitzer’s setting (now lost) of Rousseau’s Pygmalion, in translation. Using H. W. von Gerstenberg’s tragic cantata Ariadne auf Naxos as a model, Brandes prepared a dramatic scene in the new genre to display Charlotte’s abilities. Schweitzer temporized in setting Brandes’s text, and after the troupe moved to Gotha it was given to the court Kapellmeister there, Georg Benda. The première of Ariadne auf Naxos on 27 January 1775 was a resounding success, mainly because of Benda’s music and Charlotte’s acting. Brandes wrote a second melodrama for his wife while he was theatrical director at Dresden in ...

Article

(b 1843–4; d ?1917). English translator . He was a scholar of Oriel College, Oxford (BA 1866), and was ordained in the Church of England in 1868. He was choirmaster and organist of Christ Church, Marylebone, London, from 1878 to 1882.

For the production of Così fan tutte (at that time rarely staged) by the Royal College of Music at the Savoy Theatre in 1890, he wrote an amusing and elegant English version, ‘translated and adapted from the original Italian and the German paraphrase’, in a style Richard Brinsley Sheridan would not have disdained. It was published in vocal score by Novello, with the characters Fiordiligi and Guglielmo renamed Isidora and Gratiano, presumably for the convenience of English tongues. The long survival of this version, with modifications, extended to the ENO production of 1990. Browne also translated Cornelius’s Der Barbier von Bagdad (RCM, Savoy, 1891) and Hermann Goetz’s ...

Article

(b Kiev, May 14, 1891; d Moscow, March 10, 1940). Soviet novelist . He graduated in medicine from Kiev University in 1916 but soon abandoned that career to work as a writer, travelling throughout Russia before settling in Moscow in 1921. His first success was in 1926, with the play Dni Turbinykh (‘The Day of the Turbinykh’), a dramatization of his own novel Belaya gvardiya (‘The White Guard’). The play was later suppressed; in fact all his work was banned by Stalin from 1929. Bulgakov’s masterpiece, Master i Margarita (‘The Master and Margarita’, 1938), an allegorical novel about the Stalinist terrors, remained unpublished until 1966. Its exotic mixture of fantasy and satire – the devil incarnated in Moscow interwoven with a retelling of the Crucifixion from the viewpoint of Pontius Pilate – prefigured ‘magic realism’; its operatic potential has attracted several composers, including Slonimsky (1989, concert perf.), Rainer Kunad (...

Article

(b London, May 25, 1803; d Torquay, Jan 18, 1873). English writer . The son of General Bulwer and Elizabeth Lytton, he was born into a comfortable family background, but from the age of 22 was obliged to earn his living from writing. Having produced a volume of poetry at the age of 17, he went on to write a vast number of novels, plays, poems and journalistic articles. He also had a distinguished career in politics, entering the House of Commons as a Whig in 1831 but defecting to the Tory Party for whom he served as Colonial Secretary (1858–9) before being made a peer in 1866. On inheriting Knebworth from his mother in 1843 he took the additional name -Lytton, although he was still known as Bulwer and generally published under the name Bulwer Lytton; in 1866 he was created Baron Lytton of Knebworth.

Bulwer’s novel ...

Article

Thomas Bauman

(b Breslau, Dec 7, 1753; d Berlin, April 28, 1831). German writer . After studies at Halle he worked as a teacher and private secretary. His literary endeavours, warmly supported by Wieland, included poetry, plays, librettos and copious translations from the French and English. Don Sylvio von Rosalva, his first and most popular opera text, is based on Wieland’s fashionable novel ...

Article

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(b London, Feb 4, 1723; d London, Aug 4, 1792). English dramatist . ‘Gentleman Johnny’ Burgoyne, the English general forced to surrender to the Americans at Saratoga (1777), was the librettist of William Jackson’s only successful opera, The Lord of the Manor (1780), in the preface to which he advocated English ‘musical comedy’. Garrick’s staging of his first dramatic piece, ...

Article

John Tyrrell

(b Malé Svatoňovice, nr Trutnov, Jan 9, 1890; d Prague, Dec 25, 1938). Czech writer and dramatist. He was the best-known Czech writer between the two world wars, with works widely published in many languages. Although his final novel, incomplete at his death, was about a charlatan composer, and his detective story about the conductor Kalina may have had Janáček in mind (Fischmann, 146), he had no close relationship to music and took no hand in the adaptation of his works into operas apart from Zdeněk Folprecht’s one-act opera Lásky hra osudná (‘The Fatal Game of Love’), for which he wrote the libretto (1922) with his brother Josef.

Ze života hmyzu [From the Life of the Insects] (play, with J. Čapek, 1922): Kalmanoff, 1977, as Insect Comedy; Cikker, 1987 Věc Makropulos [The Makropulos Affair] (play, 1922): Janáček, 1926 Krakatit [invented word, from ‘Krakatoa’] (novel, 1924): Berkovec, 1961; Kašlík, 1961...

Article

Richard Taruskin

[née Sophie Auguste Fredericke von Anhalt-Zerbst]

(b Stettin [now Szczecin], 21 April/May 2, 1729; d Tsarskoye Selo, 6/Nov 17, 1796). Empress of Russia. She acceded in 1762 following a palace coup against her husband Peter III, and became known as ‘Catherine the Great’. Continuing the policy of her predecessors, the empresses Anna (reigned 1730–40) and Elizabeth (1741–61), she maintained a court opera theatre staffed by Italians, personally patronizing Cimarosa, Paisiello, Galuppi and Sarti, as well as her special favourite, the italianized Spaniard Martín y Soler. She also patronized comic opera in the vernacular and encouraged native talent to apply itself to this genre. Among the talents she nurtured was her own very modest one as a dramatist, which she exercised, as she put it to a friend, for the sake of relaxation and distraction from affairs of state. With the assistance of two literary secretaries, Ivan Yelagin and Alexander Khrapovitsky, she wrote three volumes of Russian plays and a fourth in French....

Article

Colette  

Richard Langham Smith

[Gauthier-Villars, Sidonie Gabriel]

(b St Sauveur-en-Puisaye, Jan 28, 1873; d Paris, Aug 3, 1954). French writer. After she married the music critic known as Willy (Henri Gauthier-Villars) she became prominent in Parisian musical circles, and her association with the world of music continued long after their divorce. She was the librettist of Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges, but the collaboration involved little personal contact and it was not until after Ravel had finished the opera that she came to know him. Her infamous ‘Claudine’ novels, which Willy published under his own name, created a vogue, one result of which was the operetta Claudine by Rodolphe Berger. Music criticisms signed ‘Claudine’ were probably Colette’s work and on several occasions she was sent to the same concert as Debussy to produce a different viewpoint.

H. Jourdan-Morhange: Ravel et nous (Geneva, 1945) Colette: En pays connu (Paris, 1949) [memoirs relating to Ravel and L’enfant et les sortilèges...

Article

Christopher Smith

(b Paris, July 27, 1824; d Marlyle-Roi, Nov 27, 1895). French dramatist Known as Dumas, fils, he was the illegitimate son of Alexandre Dumas père. His direct contribution to musical Theatre was less than that of his father, but his .La dame aux camélias formed the basis of one of the most popular operas ever. In 1844 he embarked on a passionate liaison with Alphonsine Plessis, a noted demi-mondaine born in 1824 who preferred to be called Marie Duplessis. The couple soon parted, and on 3 February 1847 she died. Dumas composed some verses in her memory and then, in 1848, published the novel La dame aux camélias which, with its accent of truth, immediacy of emotion and clever use of realistic detail, started the process by which a brief affair would be transformed into a great tragic love story that has acquired the status of myth. Dumas next fashioned a drama of the same name out of his novel, and its first performance, on ...

Article

(b Neuchâtel, 23orNov 24, 1733; d Paris, July 15, 1815). Swiss writer on music. A journey to Italy in the early 1750s was formative in shaping his taste for Italian opera. He then moved to Paris, where he frequented literary-philosophical circles, and in 1763–5 followed Rousseau to Switzerland. Escherny’s Fragments sur la musique (Paris, 1809), which also appeared as part of a larger work, the Mélanges de littérature (Paris, 1811), contains miscellaneous criticism; much of the writing is anecdotal (albeit vivid and picturesque), but his musical acumen cannot be doubted. Like Chastellux he favoured the principles of bel canto singing; he thought that music for the theatre should set this in proper relief.

Escherny allows Gluck a prodigious gift for powerful and awe-inspiring effects of orchestration and harmony in ‘le genre sombre et terrible’, but denies him that of melody. He claimed to have met Gluck in Vienna as early as ...

Article

(b Camberley, Aug 3, 1924; d October 22, 2014). English writer. A critic of exceptionally wide and international experience, she contributed reviews and articles to numerous periodicals and newspapers (notably Opera and the Financial Times in Britain, and also Opera Canada and Opera News) and was noted for her balanced judgment on the human voice. Her main areas of interest were 19th- and 20th-century opera (French and Scandinavian in particular) and singers, both historical and present-day. She made singing translations of many operas, from French, German and Swedish, including works by Spontini, Meyerbeer and Berwald. Among her writings were ...

Article

Anthony Parr

(b London, Jan 1, 1879; d Coventry, June 7, 1970). English writer. Closely associated with Cambridge and the Bloomsbury group, he campaigned actively against censorship. His travels in Europe and India yielded two of his best-known novels, A Room with a View (1908) and A Passage to India...