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Title: 'The secret of perfection' : Britten and Verdi
Author: Brandon, Jane
ISNI:       0000 0004 2709 3622
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2008
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Writing in 1951, Britten declared that Verdi had 'discovered the secret of perfection' in his later operas. His enthusiastic admiration for Verdi is demonstrated frequently in his writings and interviews, but most profoundly in his music. This investigation of the influence of Verdi on Britten's works complements other studies in the field, notably those considering his works in relation to the English tradition (Purcell and Tippett), the German tradition (Mahler) and the Far East. The Introduction discusses Britten's relationship with Neo-Romanticism and the theoretical implications of the study of musical influence. Chapter two focuses on historical and biographical evidence of Britten's relationship with Verdi through scores, recordings and attendance at performances. It goes on to investigate the role of Italy in the Romantic literary works that Britten prized, as well as in the work of his librettists, to reveal their construction of 'the South' as an invented space for homosexual fantasy. Chapters three to nine analyse a collection of Britten's vocal works chronologically: Peter Grimes, Albert Herring, Billy Budd, Gloriana, The Turn of the Screw, A Midsummer Night's Dream, War Requiem, and Death in Venice. Each work is considered in relation to the Verdian operas that Britten knew most intimately - La traviata, Rigoletto, Aida, Falstaff and Otello - to reveal the ways in which he both embraces and resists Verdi's operatic approach, considering dramaturgy, genre, number opera structures, set piece forms, tonal design, recurring themes and tinta. The Afterward explores the ways in which Britten's allusions to Verdi are assimilated, transformed, parodied and subverted through his oeuvre. It goes on to argue that Britten's relationship with tradition, in particular the Italian tradition epitomised by Verdi, contributes to his very individual musical 'modernism'.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available