photographs, chronology, appendices, notes,
library binding 2003
is unusual for styles in opera to carry over from one era into another.
It would be even more unusual for one eras characteristics
to linger two generations into the next. Yet this is precisely what
happened during the first half of the nineteenth century, when the
intricacies of the fleet bel canto style were combined with
the Romantic eras heroic declamation and formidable orchestral
emphasis resulting in the creation of the assoluta voice.
traces the emergence of the impressive vocal writing that resulted
from the marriage of the Bel Canto and Romantic eras. It also covers
the uniquely versatile divas who were given the opportunities to
make their mark on opera from the time of Cherubini to that of a
young Verdi. Here, both the wide-ranging vocalism in the scores
themselves and the artists capable of performing this style are
referred to as assoluta. Chapters consider Luigi Cherubinis
Médée, Gioacchino Rossinis Armida,
Carl Maria von Webers Oberon, Gaetano Donizettis
Anna Bolena, Vincenzo Bellinis Norma, Donizettis
Gemma di Vergy and Roberto Devereux, the time of transition
during late Donizetti and early Verdi, and Giuseppe Verdis
Nabucco and Macbeth.
like the roles and voices it studies, this book belongs in the
hands of every opera lover. It provides indispensable detailed
analysis of nine important heroic coloratura roles and their key
recorded interpreters. .... Each chapter presents a treasure of
close analysis to delight any lover of fine singing. Highly recommended."
Harrison The Opera Journal June 2004
has fashioned a fascinating book, a combination of history, vocal
technicalities, and an in-depth discography."
Charles H. Parsons American Record Guide Nov/Dec 2003
was GREAT! I don't think I ever learned so much from one book
on a specific musical subject that was already of great interest
to me, and on which I fancied I already knew a lot. Obviously
there was a great, great, great deal more to know! .... [T]he
whole opera-loving community should thank you for all your
efforts to see such a fine work through to completion. It
really is a MAJOR work in the field and I will be singing
its praises for years to come."
Joe Pearce Vocal Record Collectors Society
fun is to be found in Geoffrey S. Riggss The Assoluta Voice
in Opera, 17971847, though one is afraid to say so, for
fear it will do his career some harm (McFarland & Company,
Inc. 271 pp. $55). This is, after all, a very serious attempt
to understand the voices that inspired many of the greatest works
in the opera repertoire. In doing so, Riggs examines nine seminal
scores and background data on the composers and prima donnas of
the day. He categorizes, analyzes and surmises then rushes
to survey the recordings. For lay readers, this will be the meat,
potatoes and first, second and third helpings of dessert. As he
listens, Riggs provides a minute, often note-by-note account of
key arias and scenes as interpreted by Fleming, Callas, Caballé,
Simionato, Sills, Horne and others, rendered with an enthusiasm
that borders on compulsiveness. We cant know for certain
what Giulia Grisi sounded like, but plenty of us remember Joan
Sutherland and collect her recordings with an exhaustive passion
that rivals Riggss own, and his feisty, well-argued opinions
make these sections of his book almost impossible to put down.
V. MADISON Opera News - Online Edition December, 2003
Riggs has served as a guest lecturer at the Juilliard School, the Richard
Tauber Institute, the Vocal Record Collectors Society and the Wagner
Society of New York. He has written numerous articles and reviews for
Listener Magazine, Wagner Notes, Review of Reviews, Stagebill
and other publications. He lives in New York.