'La Voix humaine: Dissecting Luigi Lablache'

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Abstract

In January 1835, the premiere of Bellini’s I Puritani at the Théâtre-Italien took Paris by storm. Its most popular number was the Act II duet for bass voices “Il rival salvar tu dêi”– above all the unison conclusion to the cabaletta “Suoni la tromba”. With reference to the reviews and score, and to medical research of the period, I argue that this number effectively puts Luigi Lablache’s voice under a microscope, bringing to the surface its timbral components, “performing” scientific discovery. In this manner, the performance complemented the findings of the theatre’s house physician Francesco Bennati, and even anticipated the laryngeal investigations of Manuel Garcia in the 1850s, making the inaudible audible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1–18
JournalLaboratoire italien
Volume20
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2017

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