Elizabeth Augusta Wrightson Collection of Annotated Bel Canto Vocal Music
The Elizabeth Augusta Wrightson Collection consists of 135 arias and other songs chiefly from Italian operas of the bel canto style. Approximately 100 contain detailed performance markings including ornamentation, expression marks and cadenzas.
- Publication: Music printed 1815-1840
- Compiled between 1834-1835
- Other: Bound in three volumes
Language of Materials
Chiefly Italian with some English text.
Conditions Governing Use
Materials currently unavailable due to digitization.
Biographical / Historical
Elizabeth Augusta Wrightson Collection of Annotated Bel Canto Vocal Music consists of 135 arias and other songs chiefly from Italian operas. Approximately 100 contain detailed performance markings including ornamentation, expression marks and cadenzas. Individual scores bear the initials EAW and are dated by Wrightson betweeen 1834 and 1840. The scores themselves were printed primarily in England between 1815 and 1840. Wrightson's handwritten index and autograph signature with date establish that the collection was bound in 1840 in multiple volumes. Sometime prior to its acquisition by Northwestern, the collection was disbound with all scores and original boards loose.
The collection focuses on selections from the operas of Donizetti, Bellini, and Rossini but also includes works by Mercadante, Vaccai, Pacini, Carafa, Mayr, Meyerbeer, Malibran and the castrati Crescentini and Perucchini. Some works by Mozart, Beethoven, Gluck, Zingarelli and Paisiello are also present, but the overwhelming majority of compositions are Italian bel canto.
Marks indicating phrasing, coloratura appear to be that of a professional Italian musicians, likely a singing master from the 1830s. With performance markings intact, this substantial collection is of great importance to the study of 19th century performance practice, especially in the bel canto genre prior to Verdi's influence. The collection also provides important evidence of the reception of Italian opera in 19th century England.
Nothing is known of Wrightson, however, the markings indicate that she was not an amateur. A logical assumption would be that Wrightson was a singer of some professional calibrer active in the early to mid 1800s in England whose details and life have unfortunately been lost to history.
The collection was originally bound in multiple volumes. All scores were disbound prior to acquring the collection and are now loose. The scores have been maintained in the order in which they were received and have been individually foldered to preserve them and this original order. The presence of a few duplicates and a separated cover page indicate the original may have been disrupted.
The finding aid is arranged by composer name, next by opera title (where applicable) and then by song title.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Purchased February, 2001.
Processed by Alan K. Akers, June 2019.
- Wrightson, Elizabeth Augusta (Person)
- Guide to the Elizabeth Augusta Wrightson Collection of Annotated Bel Canto Vocal Music.
- Alan Akers
- August 2019
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Part of the Music Library Repository
Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Drive
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US