Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



First Advisor

Robert Grayson


Compositions by Mississippi composer Luigi Zaninelli, born in Raritan, New Jersey, on March 30, 1932, have recently reached seven and one-half million copies sold by music publisher Shawnee Press. Although Zaninelli's chorus, band, vocal, and orchestra compositions have received international acclaim, he has only recently begun to compose operatic works. The composer began to explore the world of opera at the urging of his former teacher, the famed Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti. Zaninelli's three operas, Snow White-The Opera (1996), Mr. Sebastian (1997), and Good Friday (1998) represent his first forays into this complex musical idiom. It is the object of this paper to address aspects of his third opera, Good Friday. The young Zaninelli studied with Menotti at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Later he was sent to Italy to study with the esteemed composer, Rosario Scalero (teacher of both Samuel Barber and Menotti). Both Menotti and Scalero molded the gifted, young Zaninelli into a sensitive and lyrically astute composer. Zaninelli's lyrical writing and beautiful melodies are particularly well-suited for the voice, and his musical gifts and craftsmanship are clearly demonstrated in his operas. This thesis contains a biographical sketch of the life of Zaninelli, and subsequent chapters discuss the conception of Good Friday. Chapter one details Zaninelli's early musical training and compositional influences. Chapter two discusses the libretto and outlines the story while drawing comparisons to the life of the composer. A character analysis of the principal characters sheds light on the parallels between the libretto and the real-life acquaintances of the composer. Chapter three explores musical ideas presented in the opera. Good Friday marks a milestone in Zaninelli's compositional style in that this opera incorporates elements of his "classically trained" writing techniques and his improvisational skills. This combination of elements is previously unseen in his vocal music or his two other operas. The composer has made available the use of the unpublished manuscript of Good Friday for this thesis.