The Walter Scott Operas: An Analysis of Operas Based on the Works of Sir Walter Scott

The Walter Scott Operas: An Analysis of Operas Based on the Works of Sir Walter Scott

The Walter Scott Operas: An Analysis of Operas Based on the Works of Sir Walter Scott

The Walter Scott Operas: An Analysis of Operas Based on the Works of Sir Walter Scott

Excerpt

My high regard for Donizetti's Lucia diLammermoor led me many years ago to read Scott's novel, The Bride of Lammermoor, and this in turn led me into the larger subject of the present study, which is the first serious attempt to track down the many operas based on Scott's works and the only systematic study of these operas in relation to their originals. I approach the Scott operas as a literary historian rather than as a musicologist or music critic. I am less interested in passing judgment on an opera as music and drama than in seeing what the composer and the librettist do to a given novel, story, or poem when they reshape it into an opera.

I began preliminary investigation as early as 1959, but because of other commitments could not get to work in earnest until the spring of 1963. At that time, while still a graduate student at Duke University, I compiled a bibliography of Walter Scott operas and examined two of the operas based on Ivanhoe. For some time I considered the possibility of writing my doctoral dissertation on the Scott operas, but difficulty in locating necessary material and many other problems that I knew would arise caused me to decide, reluctantly, to abandon the project as unfeasible for satisfying the requirements for a degree. I resumed work in the summer of 1965 while in Europe, spending several weeks going through the various card catalogues in the Département de la Musique of the Bibliothèque Nationale and the unpublished multi-volumed catalogue of printed music in the main reading room of the British Museum. Most of the obscure librettos and scores which I needed were to be found in either Paris or London. Some months later I learned that the Newberry Library had extensive holdings in nineteenth-century opera, and it was there, in the summer of 1967, that I did an important part of my research. I returned to Europe for the summer and fall of 1968, working mostly in the British Museum, but also in Paris, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam. I took home with me on microfilm or in xeroxed form all material which I did not have time to examine then. Finally, in September 1969, I was ready to begin . . .

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