No 11 (2019)

Sensibility and Passion: Studies in Early Italian Opera

The articles in this issue originated as papers for a symposium, ”Comala and Nina: Operatic Performance in the Age of Sensibility”, in Vadstena on 6 August 2016. Organized by the research group Performing Premodernity (Stockholm Uni- versity, funded by the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences), in collaboration with the Vadstena Summer Opera Festival, it took place in conjunction with the critically acclaimed performances of a double-bill of Giovanni Paisiello’s Nina o sia La pazza per amore and Pietro Morandi’s Comala. Directed by Deda Cristina Colonna and conducted by Mark Tatlow.

The symposium centered on issues of sentimental dramaturgy, specifically in Italian opera, in the decades up to the French Revolution. Comala and Nina can both be described as ”avant-garde” works in this regard, expanding and transforming operatic conventions in different directions, though their reception differed widely: whereas Comala immediately sank into oblivion, Nina became one of the greatest operatic successes of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The papers explore the relationship between cultural and aesthetic theory, dramaturgy and audience involvement from the perspectives of different disciplines (comparative literature, theatre studies and musicology), examining such questions as: how can we describe and understand the aesthetic effect of these operas? How are the artistic developments related to tendencies within the aesthetic, psychological and social theories of the late Enlightenment? And how may the operas throw light on the cultural climate of the period?

Table of Contents


Introduction PDF
Magnus Tessing Schneider 4–6


Why Ossian? Why Comala? PDF
Howard Gaskill 7–23
A Song of Other Times. The Transformation of Ossian in Calzabigi’s and Morandi’s Comala (1774/1780) PDF
Magnus Tessing Schneider 24–47
Tears for Nina. Emotion and Compassion, from the Stage to the Audience PDF
Lucio Tufano 48–66
Alcina rediviva. Transformations of an Enchantress in Early Librettos PDF
Dag Hedman 67–125

ISSN: 2001-2489