This study represents the first substantial assessment of Italian comic operas composed during the central years of the Risorgimento -- the period during which upheavals, revolutions, and wars ultimately led to the liberation and unification of Italy. Music historians often view the period as one during which serious Romantic opera flourished in Italy while opera buffa inexorably declined. Laughter between Two Revolutions revises this widespread notion by viewing well-known comic masterpieces -- such as Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore (1832) and Don Pasquale (1843) -- as part of a still-thriving tradition. Also examined are opere buffe by Luigi Ricci, Lauro Rossi, Verdi (Un giorno di regno), and others, many of which circulated widely at the time.
Francesco Izzo's pathbreaking study argues that in the "realm of seriousness" of mid-nineteenth-century Italy, comedy was not an anachronistic intruder, but a significant and vital cultural presence. This important volume offers new insights into opera history and theories of comedy in the arts. It will be of interest to opera lovers everywhere and to students in music, philosophy, comparative literature, and Italian cultural studies. Francesco Izzo is senior lecturer in music at the University of Southampton.