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Underscore - The AR Blog

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An Enlightenment Science Fiction Opera: Niccolò Piccinni’s Il regno della Luna

Wednesday, September 9, 2020 9:00:00 AM America/Chicago

By Lawrence Mays

My Ph.D. dissertation was originally going to be about “exotic operas,” particularly those with allegorical Moon settings and those set in fantastical Amazon realms. While researching the topic, I read of a 1770 dramma giocoso by Niccolò Piccinni (1728–1800) titled Il regno della Luna. In contrast to the majority of “Moon operas”—which are really set on Earth—this work involves five Earth people actually traveling, in an unspecified future epoch, to the Moon, where they encounter a society radically different from that of late eighteenth-century Europe. They find a kingdom in which women have complete political power and may terminate marriage as they wish, and where relations between the sexes are flexible, with polygamy being condoned. Here was an exotic opera which aligned with my interests both in Moon settings and in societies dominated by women. Intrigued, I embarked on the preparation of a critical edition with exegesis, which became the focus of my dissertation and eventually the basis for an edition in the Recent Researches series.

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In Praise of Performance Parts

Wednesday, August 19, 2020 9:00:00 AM America/Chicago

By David C. Birchler

Performance parts are often overlooked or placed last in a list of sources. It is understandable that an extant autograph score is considered to be the primary source for a symphony, concerto, mass, or opera; or that a copyist’s score or published score, particularly one prepared under the composer’s supervision, would be chosen as primary source if the autograph is lost or presents an earlier or indeed superseded version of the work. But parts have a strength of their own in that they are specifically tailored to meeting the needs of individual players for the realization of the work in performance. Taking careful account of available source parts as you are preparing your edition will often provide details of notation that are only implied in the source score and make your job that much easier.

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Michele Pesenti: Between Frottola and Madrigal

Wednesday, July 29, 2020 9:00:00 AM America/Chicago

By Anthony M. Cummings

The thesis implied in the well-known phrase “from frottola to madrigal” has long been contested: Frottole and madrigals were different genres, with fundamentally different stylistic characteristics; they were cultivated by different composers, at different times in history, and in different centers of musical patronage and activity. But the profile of one composer, Don Michele Pesenti da Verona (ca. 1470–1528), complicates our current understanding. Unlike the vast majority of his fellow frottolists, Pesenti composed both frottole and madrigal-like compositions. He stood at a moment of transition between genres, and his career and creative output illuminate the complex dynamics of the moment. Along with my two distinguished co-editors, I am pleased to be able to present Pesenti’s complete surviving oeuvre in modern edition for the first time.

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Critical Notes 101: Some Dos and Don’ts

Monday, June 29, 2020 9:00:00 AM America/Chicago

By Esther Criscuola de Laix

What are critical notes? Well, many of our editions say that “critical notes describe rejected source readings” or “differences between the source and the edition” that are not otherwise covered by the editorial methods. It sounds straightforward enough. Yet many volume editors find this to be one of the most fiddly and confusing parts of the editing process. So, here are some dos and don’ts to help dispel the confusion.

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Considering Antonio Rosetti and His Passion Oratorio

Wednesday, May 27, 2020 9:00:00 AM America/Chicago

By Sterling E. Murray

Many years ago, while searching for a dissertation topic, I came upon a volume of five symphonies by the Bohemian composer Antonio Rosetti (ca. 1750–92). I had never heard of Rosetti, and I was quite surprised at the high quality of these works. This discovery served as the topic of my dissertation (“The Symphonies of Anton Rosetti,” University of Michigan, 1972). But more than that, it initiated what was to be a lifetime of research devoted to this composer and his musical world.

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