Tempo in the Soprano Arias of Puccini’s La BohÈme, Tosca, and Madama Butterfly

Author: Zhong, Mei
Year:2002
Pages:228
ISBN:0-7734-7190-1
978-0-7734-7190-0
Price:179.95
Difficulties in establishing tempos for Puccini’s soprano arias arise from the lack of markings in some cases, ambiguous or impractical markings in others, doubts about the authorship of some markings, and wide variations in tempo among recorded performances. This study seeks to establish the originally intended tempos for these operas. By examining Puccini’s autographs, the first edition vocal scores, and many early recordings – especially those by the sopranos or conductors who worked with the composer or performed the arias during Puccini’s lifetime – it establishes tempos that conform to Puccini’s musical and dramatic intentions. Additional sources include the commentaries of Luigi Ricci, Puccini’s rehearsal pianist; contemporaneous and contemporary commentaries; and current scholarship.

Reviews

“The work is enormous in scope. . . nothing less than the first-ever attempt to reinterpret Puccini’s operas from the perspective of source and performance-practice research. . . . Mei Zhong makes her start at the heart of Puccini’s operas, the arias for the soprano heroines of his most famous masterpieces. The results of research and insightful interpretation open a surprisingly new vista on what we all thought were thoroughly familiar works. This is not just for singers. Everyone who loves these operas will find Mei Zhong’s discussion fascinating and revealing.” – John Walter Hill

Table of Contents

Table of contents (main headings):
Preface; Foreword
Introduction: The Delightful Problem; How a Puccini Melody Unfurls – Primary Sources; “The Ten Rules of Puccini”; Puccini’s Neglected Metronome Markings; Further Travesties of Tempo; Technology’s Needs Are More Important Than Art – Aren’t They? Delightful Problem Compounded
La Bohème:
“Sí. Mi chiamano Mimì” : Analysis of Markings; Ricci’s Rehearsal Notes; Puccini’s autograph; Early Recordings (Ferrani, Bellincioni, Muzio, Farrar, Ritter-Ciampi, Reinhardt; Jurjewskaya, Cebotari, Moore, Pampanini, Albanese); Arriving at Performance Criteria
“Quando me’n vo’”: Analysis of Markings; Ricci’s Rehearsal Notes; Puccini’s autograph; Early Recordings ( Bresonier, Viafora, Pavlovska, Gluck, Kurenko, Keritza, Supervia, Sayão, Menotti, McKnight, Amara) ; Arriving at Performance Criteria
“Donde lieta uscì” : Analysis of Markings; Ricci’s Rehearsal Notes; Puccini’s autograph; Early Recordings ( Ferrani, Melba, Kurz, Gluck, Alda, Spani, Moore, Olivero, Molajoli w/Muzio, Beecham w/Perli, Berrettoni w/Albanese, Toscanini w/Albanese; Beecham w/Los Angeles) ; Arriving at Performance Criteria
Tosca
“Non la sospiri la nostra casetta” : Analysis of Markings; Ricci’s Rehearsal Notes; Early Recording (Farrar) ; Arriving at Performance Criteria
“Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore”: Analysis of Markings; Ricci’s Rehearsal Notes; Early Recordings (Mei-Figner; Kruszelnicka; Eames; Carelli, Cavaliere; Melba; Farrar; Destinn; Kurz; Jeritza; Alda; Muzio; Ponselle; Edvina; Stolzenberg; Wildbrunn; Kiurina) ; Arriving at Performance Criteria
Madama Butterfly
“Ancora un passo” : Analysis of Markings; Ricci’s Rehearsal Notes; Early Recording (Farrar) ; Arriving at Performance Criteria
“Ieri son salita”: Analysis of Markings; Ricci’s Rehearsal Notes; Early Recording (Farrar) ; Arriving at Performance Criteria
“Un bel dì vedremo”: Analysis of Markings; Ricci’s Rehearsal Notes; Early Recordings (Destinn; Farrar; Ermolenko-Yuzhina; Jeritza; Miura; Ponselle; Raisa; Galli-Curci; Jurjewskaya; Kiurina; Gerhart; Rethberg; Mason; Spani) ; Arriving at Performance Criteria
“Sai cos’ ebbe cuore”: Analysis of Markings; Ricci’s Rehearsal Notes; Early Recording (Farrar) ; Arriving at Performance Criteria
“Con onor muore. . Tu? tu? tu? tu? piccolo Iddio”: Analysis of Markings; Ricci’s Rehearsal Notes; Early Recordings (Destinn; Farrar) ; Arriving at Performance Criteria
Conclusion: How does a Puccini Melody Unfurl in Time?
Bibliography; Discography; Index