The Artistic Memoirs
of composer, pedagogue, and civil servant Giovanni Pacini paint a colorful picture of the Italian operatic world of the mid-nineteenth century and offer a first-hand perspective of the works and reception of Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and lesser known contemporaries such as Saverio Mercadante.
Giovanni Pacini (1796-1867) donned many hats throughout his life -- as an Italian opera composer, preeminent pedagogue, civil servant, and military officer of the early to mid-nineteenth century. Pacini, despite periods of trials and stardom throughout his compositional career, showed an unceasing commitment to Italianate musical style, a flexible sense of professional resourcefulness, and self-possession with his artistry and craftsmanship. While Pacini may not be acknowledged within the grand narrative of early- to mid-century Italian opera alongside Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi, he was assuredly one of their most prominent colleagues. Throughout his career, Pacini furthermore collaborated with some of the most famous singers, impresarios, and librettists of the time. Pacini himself detailed these facets of his career within his Artistic Memoirs, which he composed during the last three years of his life, from 1864-1867.
Pacini's Memoirs offer a first-hand perspective -- albeit, colored by retrospection -- not only of the works of Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and other lesser known contemporaries such as Saverio Mercadante, but how they were regarded in the public eye during the height of their fame. Presenting a voice of keen involvement during this historical moment, Pacini paints a colorful picture of the operatic world, filled candid critiques of audiences, trial-and-error edits to suit singers' voices, negotiations with a notorious impresario, and dialogues that illuminated contemporary musical aesthetics. He provides an insider's perspective to a composer's work within the business-oriented milieu of operatic production in the early to mid-nineteenth century.
The Memoirs were first published in serial form in an Italian music journal. Tom Moore's new translation into English is complemented by an informative foreword by opera scholar Jane Sylvester.