The major historians of ancient Rome wrote their works in the firm belief that the exalted history of the Roman Empire provided plentiful lessons about individual behavior, inspiration for great souls, and warnings against evil ambitions, not to mention opportunities for rich comedy. The examples of Rome have often been resurrected for the opera stage to display the exceptional grandeur, glory, and tragedy of Roman figures.
In this volume, Robert C. Ketterer tracks the changes as operas’ Roman subjects crossed generations and national boundaries. Following opera from its origins in seventeenth-century Venice to Napoleon’s invasion of Italy, Ketterer shows how Roman history provided composers with all the necessary courage and intrigue, love and honor, and triumph and defeat so vital for the stirring music that makes great opera.
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