Rachel Becker, assistant professor of musicology and boe, signed her first book deal for “Valuing Nineteenth-Century Italian Opera Fantasias for Woodwind Instruments.” The book will be published by Routledge in late 2023.
“Opera fantasias have been denigrated as insufficiently intellectual or serious, as derivative, as merely popular or sentimental,” Becker said. “However, many of the perceived flaws were, if not hallmarks, at least accepted realities of Italian opera composing.”
A popular art form, like opera itself, Becker says the opera fantasia is stylistically predictable yet formally flexible, based heavily on past operatic tradition and prefabricated materials.
“This book hinges on the connections between performance and the work, between performers and composers, and between an overlooked genre and the canon,” she said. “Approaching the opera fantasia as a coherent and meaningful group of works clarifies a genre that has been consciously stifled and cultural resonances that still impact music reception and performance today.”