‘Bridging Divides: Verdi’s Requiem in Post-Unification Italy’, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 140/2 (2015), 313-42.

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‘Bridging Divides: Verdi’s Requiem in Post-Unification Italy’, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 140/2 (2015), 313-42.

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  Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found athttp://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=rrma20 Download by:  [University of Cambridge] Date:  03 September 2016, At: 03:49  Journal of the Royal Musical Association ISSN: 0269-0403 (Print) 1471-6933 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rrma20 Bridging Divides: Verdi's Requiem in Post-Unification Italy Francesca Vella To cite this article:  Francesca Vella (2015) Bridging Divides: Verdi's Requiem inPost-Unification Italy, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 140:2, 313-342, DOI:10.1080/02690403.2015.1075809 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02690403.2015.1075809 Published online: 08 Oct 2015.Submit your article to this journal Article views: 57View related articles View Crossmark data  Bridging Divides: Verdi ’ s  Requiem in Post-Uni 󿬁 cation Italy  FRANCESCA VELLA  La musica, come la donna, è così santa d ’ avvenire e di puri 󿬁 cazione, che gli uomini,anche solcandola di prostituzione, non possono cancellar tutta intera l ’ iride di promessa che la incorona. 1 (Giuseppe Mazzini, 1836)Vi sono delle nature virtuosissime, che hanno bisogno di credere in Dio; altre,ugualmente perfette, che sono felici non credendo a niente ed osservando solorigorosamente, ogni precetto di severa moralità: Manzoni, e Verdi!  … Questi due uominimi fanno pensare, sono per me un vero soggetto di meditazione. Ma le mie imperfezionie la mia ignoranza, mi rendono incapace di sciogliere l ’ oscuro problema. 2 (Giuseppina Strepponi, 1872) O N  22 May 1874, the  󿬁 rst anniversary of the novelist Alessandro Manzoni ’ s death,a small army of local citizens along with countless Italian and foreign visitorsgathered  –  tickets in hand  –  in the nave of the church of San Marco in Milanto attend a distinctly unorthodox ceremony: the celebration of a   messa secca   (a Mass without the consecration of bread and wine) for the soul of Italy  ’ s most Email: fv250@cam.ac.uk I am grateful to Harriet Boyd-Bennett, Katherine Hambridge, Roger Parker, Laura Protano-Biggs,David Rosen, Emanuele Senici, Gavin Williams and two anonymous readers for their feedback onearlier versions of this article. My thanks also to Giuseppe Martini for his assistance during my research at the Istituto Nazionale di Studi Verdiani. 1 ‘ Music, like a woman, is so holy with anticipation and puri 󿬁 cation, that even when men sully it with prostitution, they cannot totally obliterate the aura of promise that crowns it. ’  GiuseppeMazzini,  Filoso  󿬁  a della musica   (1836), repr. in  Filoso  󿬁  a della musica, e estetica musicale del primoOttocento , ed. Marcello de Angelis (Florence, 1977), 33 – 77 (p. 48); trans. quoted from  Source Readings in Music History  , ed. Oliver Strunk, rev. Leo Treitler (New York and London, 1998),1085 – 94 (p. 1085). 2 ‘ There are men with a very virtuous nature who need to believe in God; others whose nature isequally perfect who are happy without believing in anything and just following rigorously every precept of severe morality: Manzoni, and Verdi!  …  These two men make me think; they constitutefor me a real subject of meditation. But my imperfections and my ignorance do not allow me toresolve this obscure question. ’  Giuseppina Strepponi, letter to Clara Maffei, 7 September 1872( Quartetto milanese ottocentesco , ed. Arturo di Ascoli (Rome, 1974), 282). All translations are my own unless otherwise stated.  Journal of the Royal Musical Association , 2015Vol. 140, No. 2, 313 – 342, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02690403.2015.1075809© 2015 The Royal Musical Association  famous man of letters. The event featured the world première of Verdi ’ s  Messa da Requiem  and w a s widely reported in both the Italian and the international press(see Figure 1). 3 It was almost entirely the artistic solemnity, as opposed to theliturgical goings-on, that attracted journalistic attention. Verdi ’ s work, whichmarked his  󿬁 rst public attempt at sacred composition and followed the success of   Aida   in 1871, was hailed in his homeland a s  ‘ a new triumph for Italian art ’ ,  ‘ themost important artistic event of the year  ’ . 4 Numerous observers took pains toexplain its relationship with the centuries-old Italian tradition of sacred music. Therenowned critic Filippo Filippi even ventured that the piece would in 󿬂 uence thedevelopment of all religious art. 5 The nationalist overtones, which re-emerged atfurther performances of the  Requiem  at La Scala a few days later, loom large incontemporary reviews. As so often during the period, Italian anxieties about crisisand degeneration  –  whether political, social, moral or artistic  –  were negotia ted onmusical grounds by extolling the nation ’ s latest compositional achievement. 6 In the 3 See David Rosen,  Verdi:  ‘   Requiem ’    (Cambridge, 1995), 11. Following the San Marco première, the  Messa da Requiem per l  ’   anniversario della morte di Alessandro Manzoni 22 maggio 1874   received threeperformances at La Scala (on 25, 27 and 29 May), the  󿬁 rst conducted by Verdi, the others by Franco Faccio. The soloists were Teresa Stolz, Maria Waldmann, Giuseppe Capponi and OrmondoMaini; the chorus and orchestra were formed of approximately 120 and 100 participantsrespectively. Further performances with Verdi took place in Paris (1874, 1875 and 1876), London(1875), Vienna (1875), Cologne (1877) and Milan (1879), the last of these for the bene 󿬁 t of thevictims of a   󿬂 ood that had hit northern Italy. 4 ‘ Una novella vittoria dell ’ arte italiana  ’  (Amintore Galli, in  Il secolo , 23 May 1874, 2);  ‘ nel regnodell ’ arte, il più grande avvenimento dell ’ anno ’  ( ‘ Z ’ , in  Gazzetta uf    󿬁  ciale del Regno d  ’   Italia  , 29 May 1874, 1). Dottor Verità (alias Leone Fortis) was even more explicit in his patriotic zeal:  ‘ Udendo la messa di Verdi, noi abbiamo sentito l ’ orgoglio di appartenere ad una nazione che può in arte teneresempre il primato del mondo [ … ] e ad una città che onora la memoria di un grande Scrittore conl ’ opera di un grande Maestro ’  ( ‘ Listening to Verdi ’ s Mass, we felt proud to belong to a nation thatis still pre-eminent in art [ … ] and to a city that pays homage to the memory of a great Writer withthe work of a great Maestro ’ ; in  Il pungolo , 23 May 1874 (morning issue), 2). 5 ‘ La   Messa da Requiem  del Verdi è destinata, pei suoi nuovi e singolari caratteri, a segnare una linea impensata di demarcazione nello sviluppo dell ’ arte religiosa, aprendole forse un più vasto orizzonte ’ ( ‘ Owing to its novel and characteristic qualities, Verdi ’ s Mass is destined to mark an unexpected watershed in the development of religious art, possibly opening up for it a larger horizon ’ ; FilippoFilippi, in  La perseveranza  , 23 May 1874, 1). Filippi ’ s statement was echoed by a critic in Venice: ‘ Il  Requiem  di Verdi [ … ] segnerà indubbiamente un ’ era nuova per le composizioni di caratteresacro ’  ( ‘ No doubt Verdi ’ s  Requiem  will mark a new era for sacred composition ’ ;  Gazzetta di Venezia  , quoted from  Il   Requiem  del maestro Giuseppe Verdi a Venezia al Teatro Malibran nel luglio1875  , ed. Pietro Faustini (Venice, 1875), 8). The Venice correspondent for the  Gazzetta musicale di  Milano  (henceforth  GMM  ) argued that  ‘ Il  Requiem  di Verdi porrà nella Storia della musica sacra ledue famose colonne d ’ Ercole ’  ( ‘ Verdi ’ s  Requiem  will constitute the Pillars of Hercules in the history of sacred music ’ ;  ‘ P. F. ’ , in  GMM  , 18 July 1875, 236). 6  An unpublished letter to Verdi from Tito Ricordi (12 June 1873) points to the nationalsigni 󿬁 cance of the  Requiem  project:  ‘ Permetti che io venga a porgerti le mie più entusiastichecongratulazioni pel tuo sublime pensiero di scrivere una Messa per l ’ anniversario della morte di 314 FRANCESCA VELLA   Figure 1.  ‘ La prima esecuzione della Messa di Verdi nella Chiesa di S. Marco ’ , drawing by Pessina, L ’   illustrazione universale  , 14 June 1874, 20. BRIDGING DIVIDES 315  circumstances, the service celebrated by Monsignor Giuseppe Calvi, provost of the cappella metropolitana  , went almost unnoticed in press reports  –  as did, morecuriously, any substantial connection with Manzoni.The mixture of religious and secular matters is nevertheless inscribed, andpoignantly so, in Verdi ’ s autograph score. Bound between each movement of the Requiem  are  ‘ rubric pages ’  (a total of six) with indications of what was to happen atthose points. Such notes, David Rosen has suggested, must have been written tohelp Verdi (the conductor)  ‘ 󿬁 t the movements of the  Requiem  into the plainchant Ambrosian Mass ’  celebrated by Monsignor Calvi. They range from records of Latinprayers to visual cues for the movements of the liturgical participa nts; fromindications of when to attack the next piece to excerpts of plainchant. 7  What ismore, if early critical sidelining of the liturgical service may be surprising, especially in the context of the tensions that existed at the time between Italian political andreligious authorities, 8 the San Marco event ’ s religious component is in a broader sense all too perceptible in contemporary reports.Ever since the work  ’ s  󿬁 rst nineteenth-century performances and Hans vonBülow  ’ s criticism of it as an  ‘ Oper im Kirchengewande ’  ( ‘ opera in ecclesiasticalrobes ’ ), the  ‘ Requiem  Problem ’  has been posed chie 󿬂 y in terms of musical genre:the extent to which Verdi ’ s composition bears traces of either an operatic or a sacred idiom. 9  With these considerations have come attempts to de 󿬁 ne Verdi ’ s Manzoni. Sì, lo ripeto, sublime pensiero possibile ad attuarsi solamente in questa nostra patria terra altre volte chiamata dei morti!! Infatti quale altra nazione potrebbe in quest ’ epoca vantare dueuomini di genio, così grandi che l ’ uno fosse veramente ed in tutto degno di onorare la memoria dell ’ altro? Che il cielo mi conservi in salute per godere all ’ epoca pre 󿬁 ssa delle sublimi, religiosemelodie che avrai composte per questo Santo e grande Scopo ’  ( ‘ Let me express to you my mostenthusiastic congratulations on your sublime idea of composing a Mass for the anniversary of Manzoni ’ s death. I repeat, a sublime idea, which could have materialized only in our homeland,sometimes called the land of the dead!! Indeed what other nation could pride itself on two suchmen of genius, so great that the one is truly worthy of paying homage to the memory of the other?May God keep me in good health so that on the agreed date I shall enjoy the sublime, religiousmelodies you will have composed for this Holy and great Purpose ’ ; from the digital archive of theIstituto Nazionale di Studi Verdiani (srcinal at Villa Verdi, Sant ’  Agata)). 7 David Rosen, critical commentary to Giuseppe Verdi,  Messa da Requiem per l  ’   anniversario della morte di Manzoni 22 maggio 1874  , ed. Rosen (Chicago, IL, and Milan, 1990), 5. A facsimileedition of the autograph was published by Ricordi in 1941 with a preface by Ildebrando Pizzetti. 8 These tensions had come to the surface early on, when the Milan city council had  󿬁 rst convened todiscuss plans for the Manzoni commemoration. Arguments arose about whether it would beappropriate for the municipality to associate itself with a religious ceremony. The council eventually approved the project; but given the con 󿬂 icts between the newly born Italian nation state and thechurch (con 󿬂 icts made harsher by the conquest of Rome in 1870), the potential implications of mingling secular and religious interests were to remain a focus of debate during subsequent months.They were, however, reformulated in musical polemics about the genre of Verdi ’ s work. 9 Hans von Bülow made his criticism in the two-part article  ‘ Musikalisches aus Italien ’  published inthe  Allgemeine Zeitung   (Munich) on 28 May and 1 June 1874 (pp. 2293 – 4 and 2351 – 2). 316 FRANCESCA VELLA 
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