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Chapter 32 - Puccini and the Canon

from Part VIII - Legacy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 August 2023

Alexandra Wilson
Affiliation:
Oxford Brookes University
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Summary

This chapter considers Puccini complicated relationship with the musical canon, or rather with two canons. The author argues that while Puccini’s works stand at the apex of the performing canon, they have been denied entry to the scholarly canon, a body of works deemed historically significant and of high artistic worth. The chapter traces how Puccini’s operas established their place in the international operatic repertory (observing different regional patterns), via stage performances, publisher promotion, and recordings, to the point where they became pre-eminent. The author then turns to examining Puccini’s critical fortunes and evolving reputation among music historians across the course of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. She explains how Puccini has been castigated as a derivative, overly sentimental composer who appealed to ‘the wrong people’ and did not deserve a place in the history books, though his reputation was to some extent rehabilitated by the end of the twentieth century, finally regarded as worthy of serious scholarly analysis. In recent years, however, Puccini has become the target of calls to dismantle the canon and his works have been criticised for their treatment of gender, sexual violence, race, and class.

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Puccini in Context , pp. 264 - 271
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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