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Faculty of Music



I was born and grew up in Florence, where I studied Art, Music and Performing Arts at the University and piano at the Scuola di Musica di Fiesole, before moving to the UK to pursue my MMus and PhD at King’s College London. Prior to taking up my British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship, I was a junior research fellow at St John’s College, Cambridge.

My research considers histories and technologies of operatic performance across the 19th and early 20th centuries. I’ve published articles on Verdi and Italian nation-building, operatic mobility and vocal celebrity culture, and I have a forthcoming essay about early Italian radio. My first monograph, Networking Operatic Italy, looks at how trans-municipal and transnational networks of opera production and critical discourse shaped Italian cultural identities during the years immediately preceding and following the country’s unification (1861). Current and future projects include a case study of operatic staging and the visual arts at the early Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, and a new book, Listening to Verdi, 1839-1939, which was awarded the Parma Rotary Club ‘Giuseppe Verdi’ International Prize in 2016.

My growing interest in broader sonic and auditory cultures has recently led to the establishment of the ‘Sounding (Out) 19th-Century Italy’ research network (2019-20), funded by a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award. I’m also a founder of the Leverhulme-funded network ‘Re-imagining italianità: Opera and Musical Culture in Transnational Perspective’ (2016-19), based at UCL and with collaborators at Cambridge, Brown University and the Universidade Estadual de Campinas. 


Key publications: 


Networking Operatic Italy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, in press).

Research Articles

‘"When the Acts are Finished’": Italy and Opera on the Air, 1920s-1930s' (under review).

‘De(Railing) Mobility: Opera, Stasis, and Locomotion on Late-Nineteenth-Century Italian Tracks’, Opera Quarterly , 34/1 (2018), 3-28.

‘Jenny Lind, Voice, Celebrity’, Music & Letters, 98/2 (2017), 232-54.

‘Tamagno Otherwise’, Cambridge Opera Journal, 28/2 (2016), 235-7.

‘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.


Other publications: 


London Voices, 1820–1840: Vocal Performers, Practices, Histories. Ed. Roger Parker and Susan Rutherford, Music & Letters, 101/3 (2020), 588-91.

‘Review Article: Not in Their Minds', Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 145/1 (2020), 251-57.

Opera and Modern Spectatorship in Late Nineteenth-Century Italy. By Alessandra Campana, Nineteenth-Century Music Review, 15/1 (2018), 81-5.

Verdi, Opera, Women. By Susan Rutherford, Opera Quarterly, 33/2 (2017), 184-7. 

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

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

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

Teaching and Supervisions





Latest information

Affiliated Lecturer
College Research Associate, St John's College
 Francesca  Vella


Departments and institutes: