The Emergence of the Modern Conductor

Luke Jensen
1991 Performance Practice Review  
Gabriele Dotto describes the total control that Toscanini exercized in the preparation and performance of the first production of Puccini's La Fanciutta del West} Given the acoustical problems of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City and the relative strengths of the performers, the conductor made alterations to the score, some of which were tacitly accepted by the composer for later performances. Even though the practice of altering a score for the means of a specific production fits
more » ... c production fits squarely within the tradition of nineteenth-century Italian opera, this incident illustrates the absolute control and respect that the modern conductor of Italian opera had acquired by the beginning of this century. During the first half of the nineteenth century, the peformance of Italian opera was a much more collaborative undertaking: one person prepared the singers, another the orchestra, while the duties of training the chorus, of staging the opera, of integrating set and costume designs could all be assigned to yet more people. As in all collaborative efforts, the strongest personality could dominate the entire process. But with more than one strong personality, including the ego of many singers, and with divided responsibilities, the potential for clashes was high.
doi:10.5642/perfpr.199104.01.5 fatcat:gug6e7kn5ncwngf7iu3zaefbxi