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Operatic Borrowing in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd

Operatic Borrowing in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd pAige ZAlmAN o peratic b orrowing in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd reflecting upon the first time he saw Christopher bond’s 1973 play Swee- ney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim confessed in 1979, “i remember thinking . . . that it would make an opera.” And in fact, since the 1979 broadway debut of Sondheim’s musical adaptation of bond’s play, audiences and theater critics have frequently asserted that Sondheim’s so-called musical thriller r esembles opera. The critic Clive barnes wrote in a review published the morning after Sweeney Todd’s broadway premiere, “[Sondheim] has finally cre- ated what he has been aiming for in most of his later works, a genuine folk- opera.” Decades later, viewers continue to express the same senti- ment: in 1990, the critic Ann Fitzgerald described its music as “the most operatic of Stephen Sondheim’s scores,” and the singer phillip Sametz claimed in 2007 that Sweeney Todd is “overtly operatic in its vocal and orchestral writing, in its structure, in its sensibility.” The theater writer robert Viagas agrees that Sweeney Todd is a work that is “somewhere between opera and musical theatre.” musicologists and theater scholars, too, have described Sweeney http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Music University of Illinois Press

Operatic Borrowing in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd

American Music , Volume 37 (1) – May 7, 2019

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Publisher
University of Illinois Press
ISSN
1945-2349

Abstract

pAige ZAlmAN o peratic b orrowing in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd reflecting upon the first time he saw Christopher bond’s 1973 play Swee- ney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim confessed in 1979, “i remember thinking . . . that it would make an opera.” And in fact, since the 1979 broadway debut of Sondheim’s musical adaptation of bond’s play, audiences and theater critics have frequently asserted that Sondheim’s so-called musical thriller r esembles opera. The critic Clive barnes wrote in a review published the morning after Sweeney Todd’s broadway premiere, “[Sondheim] has finally cre- ated what he has been aiming for in most of his later works, a genuine folk- opera.” Decades later, viewers continue to express the same senti- ment: in 1990, the critic Ann Fitzgerald described its music as “the most operatic of Stephen Sondheim’s scores,” and the singer phillip Sametz claimed in 2007 that Sweeney Todd is “overtly operatic in its vocal and orchestral writing, in its structure, in its sensibility.” The theater writer robert Viagas agrees that Sweeney Todd is a work that is “somewhere between opera and musical theatre.” musicologists and theater scholars, too, have described Sweeney

Journal

American MusicUniversity of Illinois Press

Published: May 7, 2019

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