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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

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

Val Wilmer

[Cecil Valentine ]

(b Kingston, Jamaica, March 28, 1926; d Romford, Oct 10, 2009). Jamaican trumpeter, flugelhorn player, conductor, arranger, bandleader, journalist, and broadcaster. Self-taught on clarinet, he changed to trumpet to play with the big bands of the drummer Redver Cooke and the saxophonist Eric Deans, then formed the Beboppers with Ernest Ranglin and Dizzy Reece. He performed annually with the Jamaica All-Stars, and in 1950 he formed a septet which included Joe Harriott. From 1954 he promoted concerts and festivals, organizing the annual Big Band, which featured the island’s leading talents, notably Wilton “Bogey” Gaynair, Don Drummond, and the pianist (later politician) Seymour “Foggy” Mullings. Ranglin, Roland Alphonso, and the trombonist Emanuel “Rico” Rodriguez joined this ensemble to accompany such visiting artists as Sarah Vaughan, Donald Byrd, and Jimmy Owens. Bradshaw, who played in a raw, direct style influenced by Dizzy Gillespie, was a tireless promoter of Jamaican music. For 25 years he served as president of the Jamaican Federation of Musicians, and he arranged the island’s national anthem. Although he recorded extensively and toured throughout the Americas playing reggae, jazz was his preferred mode of expression. Among the guests who appeared with his poll-winning small group are Roy Haynes, Reece, Coleridge Goode, and Byard Lancaster. In the 1990s he travelled to England annually, playing in Birmingham with Andy Hamilton’s band....

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 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

Gerald Bordman

revised by Jonas Westover

(b New York, NY, Sept 8, 1896; d New York, NY, July 30, 1983). American lyricist and librettist. He studied at Columbia University, where he was a contemporary of Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II, and served in the US Navy before becoming director of publicity and advertising in 1919 for the Goldwyn Pictures Corporation (from 1924 known as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer or MGM). He wrote verse in his spare time, and was asked by Jerome Kern to supply the lyrics for Dear Sir (1924). He also worked with Vernon Duke, Jimmy McHugh, and Ralph Rainger. But he is best remembered for the numerous songs he wrote in collaboration with arthur Schwartz , beginning in 1929 with the revue The Little Show (with “I guess I’ll have to change my plan”). Other collaborations with Schwartz include Three’s a Crowd (1930) and The Band Wagon (1931, containing the hit “Dancing in the Dark”). Their professional relationship extended over a period of more than 30 years to the production of the musical ...

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

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...

Article

George J. Grella

(b Arlington, MA, Dec 17, 1954). American composer, singer, broadcaster, and journalist. He taught himself to play drums, piano, and guitar as a teenager, after seeing Soft Machine open for Jimi Hendrix when he was 13. He attended the Rhode Island School of Design (BA 1976), where he played jazz piano, sang, composed chamber music, and organized free-jazz ensembles. He moved to New York and worked as a graphic designer and illustrator, producing work for Paul Bley’s label Improvising Artists and for composer La Monte Young, while making music on the side. Garland followed the twin paths of piano improvisation and composition for chamber ensembles in the minimalist style and later joined Nigel Rollings’s band Ad Hoc Rock; with Rollings he sang and played drums, guitar, and keyboards and appeared at The Kitchen, Carnegie Hall, and in the Noise Fest at White Columns (1981). In ...

Article

Judith A. Sebesta

(Simon )

(b Chicago, IL, Feb 25, 1928; d Beverly Hills, CA, Sept 11, 2009). American librettist. He began his prolific and diverse career at 16 writing for radio. After moving to television in the 1950s, he collaborated with such well-known early television actors as Sid Caesar and Mel Brooks. His career in that medium peaked with M*A*S*H, for which he wrote the pilot and subsequently wrote, produced, and occasionally directed the hit series. His screenwriting credits include Tootsie (1982) and Oh, God! (1977), for which he was nominated for an Oscar. His librettos for A Funny Thing Happened on to the Way to the Forum (1962) and City of Angels (1989) both won Tony Awards. After Gelbart’s death from cancer in 2009, Jack Lemmon, Carl Reiner, and Woody Allen all named him the best American comedy writer they had ever known....