Puccini’s Soundscapes: Realism and Modernity in Italian Opera


Published by Leo S. Olschki Editore (Florence)​​​​​​​


Puccini’s operas rely to an unprecedented degree on unmediated sounds of the everyday world (birdcalls, musical boxes and so on). By exploring the origins and limits of the composer’s realist acoustics Puccini’s Soundscapes aims to rethink the shape of Puccini’s career and reinterpret many of his major works.


From the bells in Tosca and the birdcalls in Madame Butterfly to the horns and sirens in Il tabarro and the music box melodies that inspired Turandot, Puccini’s operas rely to an unprecedented degree on realistic and seemingly unmediated acoustic objects. Focusing on this pervasive if little discussed aspect of the composer’s art, Puccini’s Soundscapes uses the twin categories of sound and realism to rethink the shape of Puccini’s career, and to offer new interpretations of many of his major works, as well as those of his contemporaries. It asks how Italian composers responded to some of the fundamental transformations of auditory culture during the fin-de-siècle, and resituates their works within the discourses (aesthetic, political, and technological) of Italian modernity. Proposing a dialogue between musicology and sound studies, Puccini’s Soundscapes offers new ways of listening to major artistic movements from Naturalism to Futurism, and asks how late Romantic opera might contribute to a broader statement of the values of musical modernism.

  • Arman Schwartz

    Puccini’s Soundscapes: Realism and Modernity in Italian Opera


    March 2018 (first published 2016, Italy)

    Published by Leo S. Olschki
    Distributed by Ad Ilissum

    ISBN 978 88 222 6447 3

    Paperback, 240 x 170 mm

    180 pages, 60 colour illus.

  • About the author

    Arman Schwartz is the co-editor of Giacomo Puccini and His World (Princeton University Press) and editor of Opera and the Avant-Garde, a special issue of Opera Quarterly, on whose editorial board he serves. He is currently a Birmingham Fellow in Music at the University of Birmingham (UK) and previously held postdoctoral fellowships at Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania. Major awards and fellowships include a Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome and the Royal Musical Association’s Jerome Roche Prize.

  • About Leo S. Olschki Editore

    Leo S. Olschki Editore (Florence) is one of Italy's oldest and most respected publishers of critical works in the humanities.

© 2017 by Paul Holberton publishing