The Puccini Companion

William Weaver, Author, Simonetta Puccini, Editor W. W. Norton & Company $30 (436p) ISBN 978-0-393-02930-7
Weaver, noted translator and music writer, and Puccini, granddaughter of Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) and editor of two volumes of his letters, here present a wide-ranging collection of essays by music historians, critics and scholars who delve into various aspects of the composer's life and work. The high level of scholarship and readability of these pieces distinguish this volume, replete with insights into Puccini's musical development, his working methods, the evolution of his operatic characters and his relationships with his collaborators. Among the contributors are Harvey Sachs, who describes the composer's long friendship with the conductor Arturo Toscanini; Arthur Groos, who examines the genesis of Madame Butterfly and shows how Puccini and his librettists differed over the complex character of Pinkerton; and Mary Jane Phillips-Matz, who explores Puccini's representation of American frontier life in La fanciulla del West. Annotated bibliographies, a chronology of Puccini's life, a dramatis personae of the people who were important throughout his career, and an appendix with plot summaries enhance the book. Photos not seen by PW. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
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