Four of the operas presented by Glimmerglass this summer are based on works in the public domain. Readers can choose from a variety of editions and translations, both print and online, for Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Voltaire’s Candide, and Homer’s The Odyssey. Plutarch’s The Life of Cato the Younger, available online at uchicao.edu, introduces the great Stoic at the center of Vivaldi’s Cato in Utica.
Robert Lomas’s The Secret Science of Masonic Initiation gives insight into the practice of Freemasonry, which inspired Mozart and Schikaneder as they collaborated on The Magic Flute. “Its secret science is that of knowing yourself,” writes Lomas. “Its object is to seek out truth; and its working tools are reason and argument.”
In Mozart and the Enlightenment, Nicholas Till explores how Mozart’s operas are informed by ideas and discoveries of the Enlightenment, drawing on writings by Richardson, Voltaire, Rousseau, Kant, Goethe, Schiller, and Blake, among others.
Volkmar Braunbehrens’ account of Mozart’s final years, Mozart in Vienna, 1781-1791, considers the intellectual, political, economic and cultural landscape in which the composer lived and worked.
In the three-volume The Operas of Verdi, Julian Budden offers a comprehensive composition history and musical analysis of each of Verdi’s operas, complete with musical illustrations.
Peter Conrad’s Verdi and/or Wagner considers two cultural giants of the 19th century: “a native son attached to the soil versus a wandering exile; a tribune of the people versus a dictatorial aesthete; a man of progress versus an atavistic myth-maker; a spokesman for afflicted humanity versus a creator of gods, giants, dragons, dwarves and fairies.”
Humphrey Burton’s 1994 biography, Leonard Bernstein, discusses the life and work of the great American conductor, composer and educator who gave us both Candide and Trouble in Tahiti.
Ira O. Wade’s Voltaire and Candide: A Study in the Fusion of History, Art and Philosophy presents a study of Voltaire, the age in which he lived, and his most enduring work.
Pulitzer Prize-winning Richard Wilbur was one of many writers who contributed lyrics to Candide; his Collected Poems, 1943-2004 offers an opportunity to explore his work more deeply.
Vivaldi: Voice of the Baroque, by H.C. Robbins Landon, gives an overview of the life of a busy and prolific opera composer whose body of work, save The Four Seasons and Gloria in D, remains mostly obscure today.
SELECTED ONLINE RESOURCES
The “Research” section of LeonardBernstein.com includes a collection of letters, scores, notes and publications related to Candide, as well as a timeline and numerous other materials.
The New York Public Library assembled an “online exhibition” for the 250th anniversary of Voltaire’s Candide; at candide.nypl.org you can find an annotated full text of the novella, articles by noted scholars, and more.
The online Leonard Bernstein Collection at the Library of Congress (loc.gov) offers photos, scripts and correspondence.
The Center for Hellenic Studies (chs.harvard.edu), provides access to an English version of Homer’s The Odyssey, as well as numerous digital books, articles and lectures. This August, the Center’s Director, Gregory Nagy, will join us for a special ShowTalk considering the life of Cato.