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Francesca Vella

Francesca Vella

Research Fellow


Francesca is a Research Fellow at St John’s College. She studied Art, Music and Performing Arts at the University of Florence and piano at the Scuola di Musica di Fiesole, before moving to the UK to pursue her MMus (2010) and PhD (2014) at King’s College London. Her doctoral work explored Verdi reception in Milan during 1859–81, as part of a larger cultural history of the city.

Francesca’s research interests revolve around various aspects of nineteenth-century operatic culture: opera’s relationship with political and urban developments (particularly in Italy); transnational and global networks; and the place of singers and voice in celebrity culture. Her current work focuses on a case study of Jenny Lind in mid-nineteenth-century London (more precisely issues of ‘mediation’ of the voice in and through the celebrity craze), and on a broader, three-city study of opera in Milan, Bologna and Florence during the 1850s to early 1870s (a period usually identified with ‘crisis’ in Italian opera).

Francesca is a co-founder of the Leverhulme-funded research network ‘Re-imagining italianità: opera and musical culture in transnational perspective’ (2016-19), based at UCL and with network partners at Cambridge, Brown University and Universidade Estadual de Campinas. She has taught lectures and seminars at Florence, KCL, Cambridge and Oxford Brookes, and she has been awarded the 2015 Parma Rotary Club ‘Giuseppe Verdi’ International Prize for a planned research project on Verdi and sound studies.

Departments and Institutes

St John's College:

Key Publications

‘Milan, Simon Boccanegra and the Late-Nineteenth-Century Operatic Museum’, Verdi Perspektiven, 1 (2016), 93–121.

‘Bridging Divides: Verdi’s Requiem in Post-Unification Italy’, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 140/2 (2015), 313–42.

‘Verdi and Politics (c. 1859-1861)’, Studi verdiani, 24 (2014), 79–121.

‘Verdi’s Don Carlo as Monument’, Cambridge Opera Journal, 25/1 (2013), 75–103.

‘Review Article: A Passion for Italy’, Cambridge Opera Journal, 23/3 (2011), 191–200. 

Other Publications

Opera and Modern Spectatorship in Late Nineteenth-Century Italy. By Alessandra Campana (review), Nineteenth-Century Music Review (forthcoming, 2016).

Verdi, Opera, Women. By Susan Rutherford (review), Opera Quarterly (forthcoming, 2016).

Experiencing Verdi: A Listener’s Companion. By Donald Sanders (review), Music & Letters, 95/3 (2014), 462–4.

Laughter between Two Revolutions: Opera Buffa in Italy, 1831-1848. By Francesco Izzo (review), Music & Letters, 95/4 (2014), 662–4.


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