Now Available: 'Conducting Opera: Where Theater Meets Music' By Conductor Joseph Rescigno
University of North Texas Press announces the publication of Conducting Opera: Where Theater Meets Music by renowned conductor Joseph Rescigno. The book discusses operas in the standard repertory from the perspective of a conductor with a lifetime of experience performing them. It focuses on Joseph Rescigno's approach to preparing and performing these masterworks so that the full greatness of each opera can be realized.
Opening with a chapter discussing his performance philosophy, Rescigno then covers Mozart's most frequently-performed operas; standards of the Bel Canto school including Il barbiere di Siviglia; five of Verdi's works including La traviata; a selection of Wagner's compositions; French Romantic operas such as Carmen; Puccini's major works; and finally four operas by Richard Strauss. An appendix contains a convenient guide to scores available online.
Conducting Opera includes practical advice about propelling a story forward and bringing out the drama that the music is meant to express, as well as how to fully support singers. Rescigno identifies especially problematic passages, supplies suggestions on how to navigate them, and provides advice on staying true to the several styles under discussion.
Maestro Rescigno states, "This book is not just for conductors; it's also for avid opera lovers who seek to deepen their understanding of music and make their experiences more rewarding. For conductors, my intention is to give practical advice -- a collegial discussion of challenges and pitfalls, including how to fully support singers.
"Readers can now understand what a conductor must do before a first performance, and even a first rehearsal, and how a work's structure -- all of its sections -- fit together. A piece of music is greater than the sum of its parts, and this is especially true for an opera, in its fusing of music and theater."
About Rescigno's performance of Rossini's Barber of Seville, Will Crutchfield, in the New York Times, wrote: "The rethinking came mostly in questions of tempo: The stretta of the first act finale, for instance, was taken so slowly that the vocal triplets could actually be attempted (this listener, in dozens of "Barbers," had never heard them before). And lo and behold, it proved to be a far more effective tempo for the shape of the piece. At the usual pace it can seem a little frantic; one wants it over with, and most productions make cuts to shorten it. Here, it was note-complete and purely delightful."
John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune, wrote about Rescigno's performance of Donzettii's Lucia di Lammermoor: "His reading swept away the soggy rhythms and blurred textures that often obscure Donizetti's intentions. The pulse was steady and propulsive, yet Rescigno molded the Bel Canto lines appreciatively and proved a reliable ally of the singers."
Tom Strini, in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, wrote about Rescigno's performance of Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier: "Conductor Joseph Rescigno paced and balanced sensitively and maintained transparency in the dense orchestration. That last point is crucial, as waltzes lurk deep in the mix, as if heard through the open windows of a ballroom down the block. Rescigno and Strauss never let you forget: This is Vienna."