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Om Meyerbeer Libretti
Giacomo Meyerbeer, one of the most important and influential opera composers of the nineteenth century, enjoyed a fame during his lifetime unrivalled by any of his contemporaries. This eleven volume set provides in one collection all the operatic texts set by Meyerbeer in his career. The texts are offered in the most complete versions ever made available. Each libretto is translated into modern English by Richard Arsenty; and each work is introduced by Robert Letellier. In this comprehensive edition of Meyerbeer's libretti, the original text and its translation are placed on facing pages for ease of use. The fourth volume presents Meyerbeer's fifth and sixth Italian operas, written towards the end of his decisive sojourn in Italy, where for eight years (1816-24) he made the operatic traditions of bel canto his own, while constantly expanding his own powerful dramatic instincts. His Italian operas divide themselves into three pairs of two. In the third pair, L'Esule di Granata (Milan, 1822) and Il Crociato in Egitto (Venice, 1824), the impulse to dismantle and reconstruct the traditions of bel canto was carried even further than before. Development of the introduzione, a fluent handling and modification of structure, an imaginative expansion of forces, showed awareness of both the French traditions of grandeur and Rossini's experiments in the opera seria in Naples. All Meyerbeer's Italian operas are concerned with situations of exile and imposture, search and restitution, confusion and fulfilment, and none more so then Il Crociato. This recurrent theme certainly reflected a subliminal thematic treatment of issues at work in the composer's life: his view of himself as a searching artist, an alien Jew, an outsider living away from his Prussian home and seeking his true metier. The success of the Crociato enabled Meyerbeer to effect a move to Paris, the operatic capital of the world, where his career would find its true artistic home.