Focusing on the operas of Mozart, Gluck, and Rameau, Building the Operatic Museum examines the role that eighteenth-century works played in the opera houses of Paris around the turn of the twentieth century. These works, mostly neglected during the nineteenth century, became the main exhibits in what William Gibbons calls the Operatic Museum -- a physical and conceptual space in which great masterworks from the past and present could, like works of visual art in the Louvre, entertain audiences while educating them in their own history and national identity. Drawing on the fields of musicology, museum studies, art history, and literature, Gibbons explores how this "museum" transformed Parisian musical theater into a place of cultural memory, dedicated to the display of French musical greatness.
William Gibbons is Associate Professor of Musicology at Texas Christian University.
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer Ltd
Number of pages: 316
Weight: 424 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 17 mm
What makes the book particularly worthwhile is its careful contextualization of the major fin-de siecle revivals of eighteenth-century operas including abundant selections from critical discourse. . . . One of the merits of Gibbons' book is the way it enables us to see how these dilemmas [of historical fidelity vs. practical viability, and of Germanic traditions vs. French national pride] were understood, and hotly debated, throughout the period in question, paving the way for a conception of the repertoire that is still very much with us. The book's most engrossing section is probably the one devoted to Mozart, for the [Austrian] composer's place within the French operatic pantheon would always entail the most complex negotiations. NINETEENTH-CENTURY MUSIC REVIEW
Gibbons's well-written study of the productions of eighteenth-century operas in late nineteenth-century Paris considers broad issues of edition-making, nationalist interpretation, allegorical readings, and value judgment. An important addition to critical reflections on canon building. --Steven Huebner, McGill University