1. bookVolume 18 (2021): Issue 1 (December 2021)
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Journal
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2353-5733
ISSN
1734-1663
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31 Dec 2013
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Introduction*

Published Online: 31 Dec 2021
Volume & Issue: Volume 18 (2021) - Issue 1 (December 2021)
Page range: 1 - 3
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
2353-5733
ISSN
1734-1663
First Published
31 Dec 2013
Publication timeframe
1 time per year
Languages
English

As the culinary pasticcio added appeal to seventeenth- and eighteenth-century aristocratic parties, working just as strongly on the sense of taste as on that of sight, so the operatic pasticcio and the pasticcio practice in general have enlivened contemporary musicological research, and they have done so in many different ways. The pasticcio questions the nineteenth- and twentieth-century concept of the music work as an invariably new and original, coherent artistic statement by one author, whose fixed form does not undergo further changes. The genre also undermines the belief in originality and novelty as supreme values in a musical work of art, contesting the view that the composer’s original version is the best and most ‘authentic’ one. Research into the pasticcio also involves questions related to theatrical and musical practice. Scholars analyse the local functioning of opera houses and use this knowledge to redefine the roles of individual persons in the process of spectacle production (the librettist – the impresario – the composer – the singers). Pasticcio research is also inextricably linked to the problem of migrations – of ideas, musical and literary sources, and artists. This creates a vast network of connections and cultural exchange. Finally, pasticcios reflect the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century audiences’ musical tastes, or rather preferences, which makes us rethink the aesthetic assessment of these works and their attractiveness. Their multi-level structure and the multiplicity of possible research topics in a way forces scholars to apply a more open and flexible approach, leading in many cases to redefinitions of much exploited concepts. This is, without any doubt, the great cognitive value of opera-pasticcio studies.

Research into Italian pasticcios already has its traditions, represented by numerous publications of Reinhard Strohm and scholars working mainly on the oeuvres of Handel and Vivaldi.

It would be impossible to list all the major publications on the pasticcio at this point. Those interested should consult the most recent volume Operatic Pasticcios in 18th-Century Europe. Contexts, Materials and Aesthetics, Gesa zur Nieden, Berthold Over (eds), transcript, Bielefeld 2021, which, apart from presenting papers that sum up the latest research, also lists the most recent and older literature of the subject.

The phenomenon is unfortunately still not sufficiently appreciated by historians of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century music. The chief aim of the project group established in 2018 at the University of Warsaw and the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, now also at Universität Greifswald, for the project Pasticcio. Ways of Arranging Attractive Operas (part of the ‘Beethoven 2’ programme, co-financed by the National Science Centre of Poland and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft), has been to re-evaluate and raise the status of pasticcios as a major music genre. Details of the project can be found at https://www.pasticcio-project.eu/.

Two conferences have importantly been held as part of this project. The proceedings of the first of them, organised at the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz in October 2018, have been published in the form of an extensive collection of papers titled Operatic Pasticcios in 18th-Century Europe. Contexts, Materials and Aesthetics (2021, ed. by Gesa zur Nieden and Berthold Over). The conference that summed up the project, Operatic Pasticcio in Eighteenth-Century Opera: Work Concept, Performance Practice, Digital Humanities, scheduled for May 2021 at Warsaw University, was held online because of the COVID pandemic. Two keynote lectures and more than a dozen papers were delivered over the period of two days; fourteen of these are contained in the present issue of Musicology Today. A concert of Nicola Porpora’s arias, also given as part of the latter conference, featured the outstanding countertenor Valer Sabadus accompanied by Capella Cracoviensis under Jan Tomasz Adamus. They performed arias taken for the most part from that Neapolitan composer’s pasticcios, two of which, Comincio a consolarmi and Quel vapor che in valle impura, were modern world premieres. The whole concert can be watched and listened to at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GXKx4XeHuQ.

The texts published here reflect the key topics of the Warsaw conference, as outlined in its title. The papers by Giovanni Polin, Ina Knoth, Berthold Over, and Aneta Markuszewska analyse pasticcios with reference to the concept of the operatic work from very different perspectives: those of theatrical practice (Polin); the audiences (Knoth), culinary analogies (Over), and pleasure (Markuszewska). Singers played a major role in creating and staging pasticcios. Anne Desler discusses singers’ dramaturgical choices and their creative contributions to pasticcio production. Raffaele Mellace traces changes in Johann Adolf Hasse’s composition strategies over the period of thirty years that separate his Siroe (Bologna 1733) from his eponymous self-pasticcio (Dresden 1763). The latter article perfectly complements the project group’s online edition of that pasticcio. Hasse’s Siroe is also considered by Emilia Pelliccia and Sonia Rzepka, who, using Laodice’s recitativo accompagnato sung by Elisabeth Teyber as their starting point, analyse that singer’s impact on the musical form of the work and on Hasse’s creative process, as well as presenting the functions and elements of the database that the project group has been working on. Reinhard Strohm uses the example of Handel’s Scipione (1730) to talk about eighteenth-century stage practice as well as problems involved in contemporary editions of pasticcios, based on a classicist tradition that may not properly reflect the period’s theatrical and musical practice. Three other articles (by Gesa zur Nieden, Jana Spáčilová, and Paologiovanni Maione) deal with the specific qualities of pasticcios staged respectively in such European hubs as Hamburg, Prague, Brno and Naples. Regardless, however, of where a given pasticcio was produced, they are all linked to earlier works, other cities, and traditions typical of those cities. At the foundation of every opera or pasticcio lay the literary libretti, whose migrations and forms constitute a crucial, extremely difficult aspect of the pasticcio research, taken up in her article by Anna Ryszka-Komarnicka. Interest in the pasticcio is also evident in contemporary operatic life. The dilemmas, questions, and decisions faced by musicologists and music life organisers in our own times in the process of staging pasticcios are the subject of two papers, by Bruno Forment and Clemens Birnbaum.

The title of our project, Pasticcio. Ways of Arranging Attractive Operas, reflects what research has demonstrated: Pasticcios were, beyond any doubt, attractive to the audience, since they offered an opportunity to listen again to one’s favourite arias. They helped to create listening practices. They also attracted impresarios because staging them was frequently cheaper than producing an opera and involved smaller risks. Finally, pasticcios proved attractive to artists, particularly singers. The acclaimed ones gained another chance for a display of their vocal skills in arias thar were already well known and much loved. They could sing the audience into ecstasy, fill their travel suitcases with new music materials and precious gifts at the same time. To young beginner soloists, pasticcios offered an opportunity to present themselves in popular and vocally demanding repertoire in the parts of primo uomo / prima donna, which in new operas were still rarely within their reach at the outset of their careers. We therefore hope that readers will likewise find this issue of Musicology Today, dedicated to the operatic pasticcio genre, attractive and engaging, while programmers working in opera houses may be encouraged to stage these works more frequently from now on.

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