General Preface

Johann Christian Bach (1735–82), youngest son of Johann Sebastian Bach, was one of the most gifted composers of the eighteenth century. Unlike his father and brothers, J.C. Bach traveled to Italy, where he studied with Padre Martini in Bologna and learned how to compose opera in the galant style. After making his debut with Artaserse for Turin and writing two operas for Naples, he was called to England in 1762 and eventually became music master to Queen Charlotte. While in London he wrote new operas and arranged pasticcios for the King’s Theatre, and he befriended the young Mozart during his family’s visit to London. In the 1770s, J.C. Bach was commissioned to write two operas for the Mannheim court and one French opera for Paris.

Johann Christian Bach: Operas and Dramatic Works is an editorial and publishing project of The Packard Humanities Institute. Its goal is to make available, in both printed and digital formats, a critical edition of the composer’s operas, one oratorio, and cantatas:

II.Catone in Utica
III.Alessandro nell’Indie
IV.Orione, ossia Diana vendicata
VI.Adriano in Siria
X.Amor vincitore
XI.Lucio Silla
XII.La clemenza di Scipione
XIII.Amadis de Gaule
XIV.Gioas, re di Giuda

Several of Bach’s operas survive nearly complete in autograph scores, and the rest survive partially in autograph and contemporaneous copies or prints. The edition presents, as far as possible, the original version of each work, and any authentic alternate versions of individual numbers are included in an appendix to the volume. Similarly, passages that were substantially revised during composition or after a work’s premiere are discussed in the commentary (and reconstructed when possible).

Each volume includes a critical report with a brief description and evaluation of the sources used for the edition, citing published catalogues for principal and secondary sources. The introduction discusses the background on the opera’s first production, including a discussion of the original cast and any available information on costumes, scenography, and ballet music; information on the poet and/or textual sources, along with a brief summary of its plot; and references to any revivals during the composer’s lifetime, publications or editions (e.g., Favourite Songs), and the opera’s critical reception to the present day. In addition, a modern version of the Italian or French libretto is included, reflecting the music underlay, as well as an English translation.

The primary goal of the edition is to prepare accurate, authoritative, and performable scores of J.C. Bach’s surviving dramatic works. Performance material (orchestral parts and vocal particella) is made available online after a work is edited and published. The critical report discusses substantive differences between the principal source and any sources used for comparison in the edition, but without itemized lists of variants for articulation, dynamics, and other secondary elements among the sources. The notation of the present edition reflects modern convention while respecting some of the idiosyncratic elements of the original. Generic titles, instrument designations, and dynamic and tempo indications are modernized, with original spellings reported in the source descriptions. Clefs are modernized and standardized, as is the notation of triplets and similar groupings. Accidentals are adapted to modern convention. Colla parte notation used in the eighteenth century has generally been realized, but some notational shorthand (e.g., for repeated 8th or 16th notes) has been retained and standardized. Beaming and stem direction are regularized, except for vocal lines, which use beaming and melismatic slurring to show syllabic and word division, and also in some cases where the original notation may have some bearing on phrasing.

Within the main musical text of the edition, emendations are distinguished according to the following general principles:

In the absence of a Bach-Repertorium catalogue for J.C. Bach, the edition uses Ernest Warburton’s Thematic Catalogue (abbreviated “Warb”) for the works. However, as the numbering of movements in the dramatic works is inconsistent, the edition has established a new system based on poetic type: recitatives, including accompanied recitatives, are not numbered but rather identified by act and scene; arias, duets, trios, quartets, choruses, and marches are numbered consecutively in a work; the overture or sinfonia is not numbered but identified by movement tempo.

The Editorial Board