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Picture of Giacomo Meyerbeer

Giacomo Meyerbeer

A Reader

Author(s): Robert Ignatius Letellier

Book Description

Giacomo Meyerbeer remains an enigma. Until the First World War he was one of the most famous of all composers. this Reader hopes to reflect something of the immense fame, prestige and love in which this composer was once held, the voices of doubt and dismissal that began to be heard even in his lifetime, and the enduring witness to his fame and worth evinced by those who have continued to believe in him in the face of the encroaching collective disparagement. Since the centenary of his death in 1964, there has been growing rediscovery of his life and re-evaluation of his art. While the revival of his work is not universal, at least a slow but steady process of recovery and exploration has begun.

The forty contributions chosen for this Reader follow a chronological course, from the days of Meyerbeer’s international acclaim after the premieres of his first two French operas, through the critical discussion of his art that began to take place during the mid-years of the nineteenth century, to the growing hostility induced by the advent of Wagner and his ideological following. The line of enquiry then leads into the dark days after the First World War when critical hostility was at its peak, on to the more reflective mood emerging during the 1950s, to the period of reassessment heralded by the centenary of his death in 1964. Finally, it surveys the critical rediscovery that was initiated by the bicentenary of his birth in 1991, a process that is still developing apace.

The Reader also presents a series of portraits of the composer, and some images from his operas, an icongraphical commentary running parallel to the texts.


ISBN-13: 978-1-8471-8388-0
ISBN-10: 1-84718-388-3
Date of Publication: 01/12/2007
Pages / Size: 610 / A5
Price: £44.99


Robert Ignatius Letellier was born in Durban on 11 August 1953, and educated in Grahamstown, Cambridge, Salzburg, Rome and Jerusalem. He is a member of Trinity College (Cambridge), the Salzburg Centre for Research in the Early English Novel (University of Salzburg), the Maryvale Institute (Birmingham), and the Institute for Continuing Education at Madingley Hall (Cambridge). Publications include books and articles on the late-seventeenth-, eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century novel (particularly the Gothic novel and Sir Walter Scott), the Bible, and European culture—with special emphasis on the Romantic opera and ballet, particularly the work of Giacomo Meyerbeer (a four-volume English edition of his diaries, a collection of studies, a reading of the operas, and a guide to research).