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Monteverdi’s Last Operas: A Venetian Trilogy

Ellen Rosand (Author)

Available worldwide

Hardcover, 474 pages
ISBN: 9780520249349
December 2007
$85.00, £71.00
Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) was the first important composer of opera. This innovative study by one of the foremost experts on Monteverdi and seventeenth-century opera examines the composer's celebrated final works—Il ritorno d'Ulisse (1640) and L'incoronazione di Poppea (1642)—from a new perspective. Ellen Rosand considers these works as not merely a pair but constituents of a trio, a Venetian trilogy that, Rosand argues, properly includes a third opera, Le nozze d'Enea (1641). Although its music has not survived, its chronological placement between the other two operas opens new prospects for better understanding all three, both in their specifically Venetian context and as the creations of an old master. A thorough review of manuscript and printed sources of Ritorno and Poppea, in conjunction with those of their erstwhile silent companion, offers new possibilities for resolving the questions of authenticity that have swirled around Monteverdi's last operas since their discovery in the late nineteenth century. Le nozze d'Enea also helps to explain the striking differences between the other two, casting new light on their contrasting moral ethos: the conflict between a world of emotional propriety and restraint and one of hedonistic abandon.
List of Illustrations
List of Tables
List of Musical Examples
Editorial Procedure

1 Orpheus in Venice
A New Ulysses
The Myth of Venice

2 Discoveries and Reception

3 Sources and Authenticity: Three Librettos
Il ritorno d'Ulisse
Le nozze d'Enea
L'incoronazione di Poppea

4 Two Scores
Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria
L'incoronazione di Poppea

5 Ancients and Moderns
A Question of Genre
Five Acts or Three
Modern Taste

6 A Master of Three Servants
Monteverdi’s Way with Words
Speech and Song, Recitative and Aria
The Role of Meter
Fashioning the “Just Lament”: Arianna’s Venetian Progeny

7 Constructions of Character
Shaping an Epic or Rewriting Penelope
The Wily Hero
Deepening a Psychological Drama

8 The Parasite and the Philosopher
Heroic Pedant, Ambiguous Philosopher
Tragic Buffoon
Directors and Critics
Music and Text
Post Mortem

9 Epilogue

1. Giacomo Badoaro, Il ritorno d’Ulisse, preface
2. Argomento et Scenario delle Nozze d’Enea in Lavinia
3. Giacomo Badoaro, Ulisse errante, preface
4. L’incoronazione di Poppea: argomento, scenario, preface
5. Il ritorno d’Ulisse: Badoaro’s argomento compared with Dolce's Allegorie and Dolce's argomenti compared with Badoaro’s structure
6. Le nozze d’Enea e Lavinia: scenario compared with Dolce’s allegories
7. Supernatural scenes
8. Singers

Ellen Rosand is George A. Saden Professor of Music at Yale and author of Opera in Seventeenth Century Venice: The Creation of a Genre (UC Press, 1991, 2007).
“A strong contribution. . . . Basic questions of attribution have dogged these operas in a long trail of scholarship. . . . Rosand cites primary sources and fresh commentary to lead the reader through this thicket.”—Edward Rutschman, Western Washington University Opera Journal
“A wealth of information and ideas.”—CB Early Music Review
“Rosand’s book would be self-recommending for its gathering of source materials alone, but insights such as these will earn it a permanent place on the shelf.”—William R. Braun Opera News
“That Ellen Rosand's understanding of seventeenth-century Venetian opera is encyclopedic has long been recognized. By focusing her attention now on all three of the last operas of Claudio Monteverdi, however, she has met a formidable challenge: this book demonstrates how to put philology at the service of interpretation and interpretation at the service of philology. All those who care about these operas, fundamental to the development of the genre itself, and about scholarship in the Humanities, will profit from her masterful achievement.”—Philip Gossett, the Robert W. Reneker Distinguished Service Professor at The University of Chicago and author of Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera

“Ellen Rosand's monumental study is so much more than a meticulous exploration and explanation of all the surviving material and its many literary and musical sources. She presents ingenious, utterly convincing solutions to the problems posed by this material, offering therefore countless new insights into Monteverdi's last two surviving operas, the great Poppea and Ulisse, while also reeling in to this forensic examination the tantalisingly lost score of Le nozze de Enea. Her feel for the music is inspiring, and her theatrical instinct exemplary. This is a book of phenomenal clarity and great passion, and an indispensable addition to our understanding of this great composer.”—Jane Glover, Conductor and Music Director for Chicago's Music of the Baroque.

Otto Kinkeldey Award, American Musicological Society

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