Dramma Per Musica: Italian Opera Seria of the Eighteenth Century

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Yale University Press, 1997 - Music - 326 pages
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Dramma per musica--the most usual term for Italian serious opera from the seventeenth to the early nineteenth century--was a modern, enlightened form of theater that presented a unified, artistically designed, dramatic enactment of human stories, expressed by the voice and underscored by the orchestra. This book by one of the world's most eminent musicologists illustrates the diversity of this baroque art form and explains how it has given us opera as we know it.

Reinhard Strohm introduces the concept and history of dramma per musica and then examines the contemporary reception and environment of this operatic tradition, analyzing its social and repertorial patterns and comparing it to theories on the roles of French spoken drama and Italian libretto reform. In describing the principles observed by poets, composers, and performers, Strohm discusses such central concepts of theory and practice as verisimilitude, decorum, gesture, and rhetoric. He also decodes various works, including Handel's Ariodante, operas by Hasse, and stage works featuring the Earl of Essex. Throughout the book, Strohm surveys the traditions of the spoken theater and pays special attention to the subject matter of the librettos, as well as to drama theory, stage action, patronage, political history, and ideology. His account covers opera houses in Rome, Naples, Venice, Hamburg, Dresden, Vienna, Madrid, London, and Warsaw, as he follows one character of the dramatic tradition across the European stages for more than two centuries.

Authoritative and enlightening, this book reveals how dramma per musica forms a vital part of our theatrical and musical heritage.

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This is a significant and highly influential book for the revisionist approaches it offers to the much-misunderstood genre of opera seria -- the most important operatic genre of the eighteenth century. Its primary impact, however, has been on academic musicology (as its intended market), and as a collection of essays rather than a monograph on a single theme it does not make easy reading for opera buffs. Those wishing to develop a better understanding of opera seria might benefit from reading the introduction, though even this will be tough going for the uninitiated.
The rating given here is a reflection of the book's intrinsic worth and the impact it has had on the way we understand eighteenth-century opera, rather than on its accessibility to a general reader.


the dramma per musica in the eighteenth century
Court and city opera
the Teatro Capranica in Rome 17111724
The Neapolitans in Venice
The crisis of Baroque opera in Germany
Francesco Corsellis drammi per musica for Madrid
Tragedie into dramma per musica
Apostolo Zenos Teuzzone and its French models
Theory and practice
Handels opera and the rules of tragedy
musical dramaturgy
Sinfonia and drama in opera seria
Themes and dreams
Scotland and Arcadia
Rulers and states in Hasses drammi per musica
The Earl of Essex servitore di due padrone

dramatic speech and musical image
Antonio Salvis Amore e maestd and the funesto fine in opera
Amore e maestd the emancipation of an opera libretto

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Page 313 - Parallèle des Italiens et des François en ce qui regarde la Musique et les Opéra , qui occasionna une guerre littéraire.

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