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The expanded and updated third edition of this acclaimed Companion provides an accessible, broadly based survey of one of the liveliest and most popular forms of musical performance. It ranges from the American musical of the nineteenth century to the most recent productions on Broadway, in London's West End, and many other venues, and includes key information on singers, audiences, critical reception, and traditions. Contributors approach the subject from a wide variety of perspectives, including historical concerns, artistic aspects, important trends, attention to various genres, the importance of stars, the influence of race, the various disciplines of theatrical production, the musical in varied media, and changes in technology. Chapters related to the contemporary musical have been updated, and two new chapters cover the television musical and the British musical since 1970. Carefully organised and highly readable, it will be welcomed by enthusiasts, students, and scholars alike.
From J. S. Bach’s cantatas and Handel’s oratorios to Mozart’s operas and Haydn’s string quartets, the eighteenth century includes a great deal of familiar music, and many unknown works from the century are in styles that we intuitively understand. It is unsettling, then, to find large corners lacking illumination, including religious music composed in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Latin America. We encounter the occasional famous composer – usually a master of opera such as Alessandro Scarlatti or Giovanni Battista Pergolesi who also wrote sacred works – but most extant religious music was by local composers. The vast majority of these works were never printed, and many are extant only as unica in one archive. When we start to consider the number of archives at religious institutions in these countries, and that few have been investigated in detail, we begin to appreciate how much remains to be discovered about eighteenth-century sacred music in Roman Catholic countries.
Isolated pieces, such as Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and Vivaldi’s Gloria, RV 589, are well known, but placing them in a vivid historical context is problematic because analogous compositions remain largely unstudied. There are useful dissertations and articles on a number of less-celebrated composers, but little about them in textbooks. John Walter Hill’s Baroque Music excavates new ground in his coverage of marginalized repertories, but his material on Latin church music in Italy for the second half of the seventeenth century through to the end of the Baroque is confined to six pages.
Can one recapture the excitement that A Chorus Line brought to Broadway? The Broadway musical seemed moribund in the middle of the 1970s. The big hits of the previous decade, such as Hello, Dolly!, Fiddler on the Roof and Man of La Mancha, had closed and the era of the great musical plays that followed the Rodgers and Hammerstein model was over. Stephen Sondheim and Hal Prince combined for major artistic successes between 1970 and 1973 with Company, A Little Night Music and Follies, but their appeal was limited, as can be seen by the length of their runs and their mixed commercial success. The rock musical had become a Broadway reality with Hair, Two Gentlemen of Verona and other shows, but rock was a new musical language that many in the traditional Broadway audience had not yet accepted. Creators of the musical theatre searched for a new mould that might combine new musical styles and contemporary thinking with tradition, building upon the genre's proud history. A Chorus Line did all of this as a veritable celebration of Broadway dance and dancers, bringing new life to the genre and taking it into the colossal hit era of six-thousand-performance runs.
Those who saw A Chorus Line during its original run will not easily forget it. The plot was minimal and somewhat artificial, but the characters were engrossing. We recognised types of people that we knew and with each part of their stories our fascination grew. The singing and dancing had a special immediacy because, within the world that the director Michael Bennett magically created, we knew that these characters would express themselves through music and movement.