Centro Studi Opera Omnia Luigi Boccherinilogocs

Research in Musicology

staging and Dramaturgy: opera and the performing arts

[in collaboration with the Thematical Project of the Palazzetto Bru Zane - Centre de musique romantique française, Venice



Vol. 3 - Michela Niccolai, Debussys «Pelléas et Mélisande»: The Staging by Albert Carré

English Translation by Lesley Wright, Turnhout, Brepols, pp. xviii+254, 2017 (Staging and Dramaturgy: Opera and the Performing Arts, 3), ISBN: 9782503574622.


Among the various, extant sources relating to Pelléas et Mélisande, the staging has not yet been selected as the subject of a critical edition. The correspondence between Debussy and Albert Carré — who was at the time manager and director at the Opéra-Comique — and the publication of the latter’s Souvenirs de théâtre do not provide sufficient information to establish a comprehensive understanding of the stage production. Numerous staging documents have preserved in some Parisian archives. Engagement with them has revealed two levels of visual representation: the staging of the première, signed by Albert Carré, and its printed version, including many changes, issued by Durand several years later. The critical edition presented here, based on this latter version, highlights the differences with the 1902 version, involving changes resulting from the publisher’s decision to widen the dissemination of Debussy’s work, especially in theatres with less advanced lighting technology compared to the Opéra-Comique. The booklet containing the handwritten notes for Pelléas et Mélisande, by Albert Carré, is extremely important: the staging contained within the notes, as well as having inaugurated the history of this work, has been in use in the same theatre until 1947. A study of this type that compares visual documents with the musical score, contemporary press reports and iconographic sources, aims to reconstruct the operatic performance as a whole (including the musical text and scenic elements), allowing the reader to ‘attend’ Pelléas et Mélisande as if he were sitting in the audience at the beginning of the twentieth century.




Vol. 2 - Staging Verdi and Wagner

edited by Naomi Matsumoto, Turnhout, Brepols, 2015 (Staging and Dramaturgy: Opera and the Performing Arts, 2), pp. xx+384, ISBN 978-2-503-56482-1.

How an operatic work is produced on the stage provides a crucial element in our understanding and assessment of its components, and yet only in recent years has musicology seriously begun to focus on this aspect of the manifestation of works. Staging Verdi and Wagner is a multi-lingual anthology of articles inspired by the joint bi-centenary of the composers' births in 2013. It addresses directly issues concerning the problematic mise en scène of compositions by these two musicians who worked almost exclusively on opera, who established interestingly different dramaturgical ideals governing musical theatre, and who became the iconic representatives of Italian and German opera respectively. The volume examines not only the composers’ agendas for the staging of their works, but also the methodologies and interpretations of numerous directors and stage designers spread across two centuries who also worked on them. These ‘co-workers’, engaged in visions and revisions of the operas, include Giuseppe Bertoja, Charles Marshall, Albert Carré, Mariano Forny, Adolphe Appia, Albert Dubosq, Constantinos Christomanos, Jacques Rouché and Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, amongst others. Additionally these studies explore how, once the operas became more widely disseminated, productions in regions such as Spain, Belgium, Turkey and Poland transformed them by sometimes appropriating them in order to seek compromised solutions governed by local restrictions and national politico-aesthetic agendas. Furthermore, the anthology contains articles assessing some of the byways of influence including an intriguing exploration of the uses of leitmotifs and cultic commercialisation in the products of Wagner, and parallel tendencies in the American cartoon industry via the ‘Disneyfication of aesthetics’. A somewhat different approach is found in a chapter which offers a close analysis of the scores to reveal how Wagner uses purely musical means (beyond the mere use of leitmotifs) to support characterisation and scene setting within his works. There is a demonstration of how the music itself is schemed to be the embodiment of the composer’s dramaturgical tenets, and thus suggests a blurring of the boundaries between ‘music as text’ and ‘music as event’. This and other insights should secure for this book an important and influential role in the construction of opera and theatre studies of the future. The Contributors are (in alphabetical order): Mathias Auclair, Karine Boulanger, Bruno Forment, Yaël Hêche, Arnold Jacobshagen, Olga Jesurum, Geogia Kondyli, Kii-Ming Lo, Jürgen Maehder, Elsa Martinelli, Naomi Matsumoto, Marina Mayrhofer, Bogumila Mika, Michela Niccolai, Claire Paolacci, Manolis Seiragakis, and José-Ignacio Suárez García.


Published with the Assistance of 'Direzione Generale per le Biblioteche, gli Istituti Culturali e il Diritto d'Autore' - MIBACT (ex circolare 108/2012 anno 2015)


mes001Vol. 1 - Michela Niccolai. Giacomo Puccini et Albert Carré: «Madame Butterfly» à Paris

Turnhout, Brepols, 2012 (Staging and Dramaturgy: Opera and the Performing Arts, 1), pp. XVIII+314, ISBN: 978-2-503-54761-9.

Following the failure of the Milan production of Madame Butterfly on 17 February 1904, Giacomo Puccini immersed himself in the consideration of a new structure for his "Japanese tragedy". After the emergence of several 'versions', the Paris premiere of Madame Butterfly has established a model for subsequent performances of the work up until the present. Collaboration with Albert Carré, manager and director of the Opéra Comique, proved fundamental to the composer, who introduced many changes to its dramatic content and the musical score. The result is also reflected in the visual realization: Carré prepares a version that interacts with the score for a more 'modern' result, taking into account the factors that were driving European theatre at the turn of the twentieth century. Beyond the careful attention paid to scenic movements (both for the soloists and the crowd scenes), the French director also pioneers a new form of lighting design. The latter is considered here as an inherent component of the spectacle in itself, made famous by the theoretical contribution of Adolphe Appia and other creative work in the field of Wagnerian opera. This staging, of which Puccini was especially proud, remained at the Opéra-Comique until 1972. Knowledge of this document, presented here in a critical edition and accompanied by an article that underscores its functionality vis-à-vis the score will, it is hoped, prove useful to musicologists as well as to opera directors, with a view to achieving a rediscovery of the past, but also for the benefit of future theatrical productions.

Winner of the 'Gouden Label' Award 2014