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The Arts of the Prima Donna in the Long Nineteenth Century$
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Rachel Cowgill and Hilary Poriss

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195365870

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195365870.001.0001

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The Prima Donna as Opera Impresario

The Prima Donna as Opera Impresario

Emma Carelli and the Teatro Costanzi, 1911–26

(p.272) Chapter 13 The Prima Donna as Opera Impresario
The Arts of the Prima Donna in the Long Nineteenth Century

Susan Rutherford

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the unusual career of the Italian soprano Emma Carelli: a “superdiva” who in 1912 became Italy’s first female impresario of a major opera house, the Teatro Costanzi in Rome. Over the next fourteen years, Carelli’s vision and artistic flair transformed the Costanzi into an innovative, vibrant theater, by expanding the number of performances, staging contemporary works drawn from across Europe, and developing the careers of talented young singers and musicians. Carelli’s efforts initially took place against a background of emerging ideas of feminism and new opportunities for Italian women: ideas and opportunities that swiftly disappeared with Mussolini’s seizure of power in 1922. By 1926, the agenda of Fascism (spurred on by Pietro Mascagni) brought Carelli’s management of the Costanzi to an end. Contexualising Carelli’s achievements within a historical perspective of female opera impresarios, this essay traces the obstacles to women’s access to opera management during the epoch.

Keywords:   Emma Carelli, soprano, impresario, Teatro Costanzi, Rome, feminism, Fascism, Italy, Pietro Mascagni

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