Cornell University

Musicology Colloquium: Emanuele Senici, “Puccini, Rossini, and Us” (Grout Memorial Lecture)

Thursday, April 21, 2022 at 4:30pm

Lincoln Hall, 124
Dept of Music, 101 Lincoln Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-4101, USA

This paper discusses a few distinctive features of the recent historiography of nineteenth-century Italian opera, focusing in particular on issues of continuity and discontinuity between the past and the present. At first glance, the cases of Gioachino Rossini and Giacomo Puccini – generally considered the beginning and end of the so-called “great tradition” of nineteenth-century Italian opera – might seem very different in this respect: whereas the Rossinian discourse tends to emphasize discontinuity between the early nineteenth century – when Rossini was active as an opera composer – and the early twenty-first, the Puccinian one favours instead continuity between this composer’s time and ours. If we take into consideration some less frequently examined aspects of these discourses, however, such as mediality, performance and mise en scène, surprising similarities between Rossini and Puccini emerge, especially when the category of modernity is also invoked. This investigation proves particularly relevant once I turn to the potential meanings of that “us” in the title of my paper, considering them from the viewpoint of contemporary Italy. I conclude by pondering issues of nationalism and nostalgia, and by trying to imagine new ways in which music historiography – Italian or otherwise – might engage with “our” Puccini and Rossini


Emanuele Senici holds a PhD in musicology from Cornell and is currently professor of music history at the University of Rome La Sapienza. His research centers on Italian opera of the long nineteenth century, on the theory and historiography of opera (especially issues of genre and gender), and on opera on video. His recent publications include Giacomo Puccini and His World (Princeton University Press, 2016, co-edited with Arman Schwartz) and Music in the Present Tense: Rossini’s Italian Operas in Their Time (University of Chicago Press, 2019). He is also co-editor of Bellini on Stage and Screen, 1935-2020 (forthcoming from Bloomsbury).

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Lecture, Music


Department of Music


cascal, music


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