Chadwick: The Padrone
Series: American Music Publisher: A-R Editions, American Musicological Society
Edited by Marianne Betz
MU28/A082 Chadwick: The Padrone
978-0-89579-855-8 Full Score (2017) 9.5x13.75, xlii + 400 pp.
George Whitefield Chadwick (1854–1931), a Massachusetts native identified with the so-called second “New England School” of composers, is among the most important and creative American composers in the generation that bridged the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Trained in part in Germany, he spent much of his working life educating other musicians at the New England Conservatory of Music, which he led from 1897 until his death. Chadwick fashioned a compelling individual musical voice rooted in a Euro-American musical idiom; his orchestral and chamber music was performed with some frequency in his own day and has been revived in ours. His opera The Padrone, set to a libretto by David K. Stevens (based on an idea from Chadwick himself), was composed in 1912; it was strongly influenced by the “verismo” operas of the time (such as Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci and Puccini’s Tosca), which attempted to bring to opera the naturalism of such late nineteenth-century writers as Zola and Ibsen. The Padrone is set in an American city (presumably the North End of Boston) in the “present.” The story, a tragic tale in two acts with an orchestral interlude, revolves around a ruthless member of the Italian community (“the padrone”) and his exploitation of more recently arrived immigrants.
Chadwick composed The Padrone for submission to the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York, but the opera was rejected, probably because of its gritty realism, and was never staged during Chadwick’s lifetime. (The Padrone exists only in manuscript form and has never been published; its only public performance so far took place in 1997.) In contrast to American operas of its generation that dramatize myths and legends from the ancient past, The Padrone brings a modern story to the stage, set to music of dramatic power and superb craftsmanship.