I know that it is bad form to quote oneself, but I wrote those words for Newsday in 2004, before I had met Philip Gossett, and they are so far the words that I am most proud of having written.
The conductor and scholar Will Crutchfield, a great Verdian whose words carry far more weight than my own, put matters more precisely.
When some future historian has to describe in a few words the artistic renewal [that ottocento opera] has enjoyed, I suspect two names will be culled from the hundreds who have contributed: Maria Callas for convincing the public that it was worth taking seriously, and Gossett for showing us all what it would mean to do so.
The Robert W. Reneker Distinguished Service Emeritus Professor of Music at The University of Chicago and a Professore ordinario “di chiara fama” at Sapienza–Università di Roma, Gossett is General Editor of The Works of Giuseppe Verdi (The University of Chicago Press and Casa Ricordi of Milan) and of Works of Gioacchino Rossini (Bärenreiter-Verlag, Kassel). His 2006 book, Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera, is the fruit of his decades of scholarship and practical work with such artists as Marilyn Horne, Cecilia Bartoli, Renée Fleming, and Riccardo Muti. Divas and Scholars won the Otto Kinkeldey Award of the American Musicological Society as the best book on music of the year.
Among his many honors, Gossett received the Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award. He also holds the Cavaliere di Gran Croce, the Italian government’s highest civilian honor.
I asked Philip Gossett about the state of the art in Verdi studies, and the first part of my interview with him follows.