My monograph The Puccini Problem: Opera, Nationalism, and Modernity (Cambridge University Press) is the first detailed study of the reception of Puccini’s operas. It focuses upon two questions that were debated throughout Puccini’s lifetime: his status as a national or international composer, and his status as a traditionalist or modernist. The book analyses the ways in which Puccini became politicised: his works were simultaneously held up as symbols of cultural strength and derided as manifestations of artistic decadence.
The Puccini Problem won the American Musicological Society’s Lewis Lockwood Award for the best book on music by an early-career scholar.
- ‘As accessible as Puccini’s music itself…a book that can engage both scholars and the opera-going public’ (Musical Times)
- ‘Extensively researched and intelligently argued…a fine addition to the Puccini bibliography’ (Opera Magazine)
- ‘It’s a rare occasion when a scholar taps into the mother lode, but Alexandra Wilson has done just that with The Puccini Problem: Opera, Nationalism, and Modernity. And she has done it exceptionally well […] The book is packed with interesting and important information, observations that moved me to take out a pencil and underline nearly every sentence’ (Helen Greenwald, Music & Letters)
- ‘There is no better time…for a historical reflection on what Alexandra Wilson describes in her excellent new book as “The Puccini Problem”…Wilson’s book on the cultural context of Puccini’s music and the response to it presents a very welcome contribution to the field’ (Axel Korner, The Opera Quarterly)
- ‘A very enjoyable read…Wilson’s The Puccini Problem is a rich investigation of how a major cultural figure’s impact cannot be divorced from a complex and dynamic understanding of his time. As such, it is a compelling book not only for musicologists and music critics, but for anyone interested in the history and culture of modern Italy in its European context’ (Laura Wittman, Cambridge Opera Journal)
My second book, Opera: A Beginner’s Guide (Oneworld), seeks to demystify opera and demonstrate its relevance to contemporary life. It was inspired in part by the ‘Opera and Politics’ module I teach at Oxford Brookes University.
- ‘Alexandra Wilson is a gifted writer and has packed a world of history, culture, and music into her new opera guide. While providing the reader with the expected information on operatic history and terminology, Wilson goes at least two steps further to explore issues that will be relevant to the modern reader, among them: politics, gender, race, media and production’. (Professor Helen Greenwald, Department of Music History and Musicology, New England Conservatory)
- ‘Engaging and easily readable…As useful to students of opera as to the curious amateur, Alex Wilson’s Beginner’s Guide makes a huge contribution to the popularisation of a “living art” and its associated academic disciplines’. (Dr Clair Rowden, School of Music, University of Cardiff)
- ‘Admirably compact…Packed with richly resonant material’. (Daniel Snowman, Institute of Historical Research, University of London)