Francesco Izzo

Primary position:
Professor of Music


The University of Southampton
Professor Francesco Izzo's photo

Welcome to my personal staff page! I am the Director of Taught Programmes in Music for 2014/15. This means that I am responsible for overseeing the content, delivery and overall functioning of our courses.

Undergraduate education is one of my great passions, and my teaching interests are wide-ranging. Here at Southampton I have offered a variety of modules in music theory and history, opera, and the musical expression of meaning and feeling. This year I am the lead tutor for two first-year modules: Foundations in Analysis, Counterpoint and Harmony (MUSI 1007), and Antique Music Roadshow 2 (MUSI 1003). I will also offer a new module on the operas of Benjamin Britten to second- and third-year students. I am currently supervising PhD projects on the 19th-century French romance, and Benjamin Britten’s Death in Venice. Being away from the lecture room causes me considerable stress, which I fight with such palliatives as cooking, scuba diving and copious quantities of chocolate.

My research focuses primarily on 19th-century opera.
 I have published articles in such journals as Acta Musicologica, Cambridge Opera Journal, Journal of the American Musicological Society, Journal of Musicology, and in numerous dictionaries and collections of essays. My book, Laughter between Two Revolutions: Opera buffa in Italy, 1831–1848, appeared in 2013 with University of Rochester Press. I have given papers at numerous international conferences, and lectured at universities and institutions in Europe and North America. I currently serve as Co-Director of the American Institute for Verdi Studies, and I was recently appointed General Editor of the ‘Works of Giuseppe Verdi’ – a series co-published by Ricordi and the University of Chicago Press that will make available all of Verdi’s works in complete and textually accurate readings.

I am especially interested in opera and politics, and in the complex relations between written musical texts and their performance, both historically and pragmatically. I love to explore the intellectual and cultural processes that bring music and opera to life in composition and performance. As a writer and speaker, I am also committed to drawing bridges between academia and the general public, and between scholars and opera practitioners. I am frequently invited as lecturer, as a contributor of programme notes, and as a consultant at opera houses and festivals in Europe and the United States (including Glyndebourne, Sarasota Opera, the Welsh National Opera, the Royal Opera House and the BBC). As a pianist, I have performed extensively as a soloist, with orchestras and as a vocal accompanist; I have collaborated with distinguished opera singers including Rockwell Blake and Giuseppe Taddei, and I provide stylistic advice, ornamentation and cadenzas for opera singers.

I earned undergraduate degrees in piano and music history in Italy, and went on to receive the MA and PhD in musicology from New York University. Before coming to Southampton, I held a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Italian Opera Studies at NYU (2003–2005), and taught at East Carolina University (2005–2007). I have also held visiting positions at the University of Chicago and NYU.


Research Interests

My publications explore numerous aspects of opera and song in 19th-century Italy, France and North America, addressing issues that range from politics and religion to censorship, genre, conventions, textual criticism, and the position of singers in society and the operatic marketplace. I have published articles in leading musicological journals, as well as chapters in miscellaneous volumes and handbooks.

In my recent book, Laughter between Two Revolutions: Opera buffa in Italy, 1831–1848, I explore the culture of comic opera during the post-Rossinian period – an age ostensibly dominated by quintessentially serious concerns and tragic subject matter – offering a contextual discussion of well known operas by Gaetano Donizetti alongside forgotten works by Luigi and Federico Ricci, Lauro Rossi and other composers.

My current projects include a critical edition of Verdi's Un giorno di regno for the ‘Works of Giuseppe Verdi’ (to be published by the University of Chicago Press and Ricordi), which received its first performance at Sarasota Opera (Florida) in March 2013. I am also working on essays exploring the end of theatrical censorship in Risorgimento Italy, the Italian reception of Herold’s opéra comique, Zampa, and the representation of the lévant in Giuseppe Verdi’s Jérusalem.

My research has been supported by grants from the American Musicological Society, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the British Academy.


Affiliate research group:  Musicology and Ethnomusicology


Professor Francesco Izzo
Building 2 Department of Music University of Southampton Highfield Southampton SO17 1BJ UK

Room Number: 2/2027

Telephone: (023) 8059 3558
Facsimile: (023) 8059 3197