Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 26 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter shows how variable the makeup of the opera orchestra has been throughout the history of opera from the seventeenth century to the present day. This variability cannot be explained only by historical evolution. Rather, the changes in the constitution of the orchestra were influenced by geography (local traditions), repertoire, performance space, and organology. The transmission of works, the movement of conductors from one country to another, and the increasing complexity of instrumental language in opera contributed to the standardization of the orchestra that was achieved only after World War II on a model established in the 1870s. Recent interest in historically informed performance tends to put forward old peculiarities that had been erased with time. Four main cases are discussed: (1) the orchestra at the time of Monteverdi and the heritage of the Renaissance, (2) the Paris Opéra and the French tradition, (3) La Scala and the reforms encouraged by Verdi, and (4) Wagner and the search for an ideal orchestra.

Keywords: orchestra, Monteverdi, Verdi, Wagner, conductor, performance

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.