Nineteenth Century Grand Opera Outside Paris

Activity: Participating in an event - typesOrganisation of and participation in conference

Jens Hesselager - Organizer

Grand opera was arguably one of the most significant musical developments of the 1830s and 1840s, both as a local Parisian, and an international, indeed almost global, phenomenon. In the opening paragraph of his introductory chapter to The Cambridge Companion to Grand Opera, David Charlton draws immediate attention to the international frame of reference, which should guide our interest in grand opera. He writes: “There is no more astonishing evidence of the power of grand opera than A Life for the Tsar, first given at Skt. Petersburg in 1836”. To begin with, of course, the power of grand opera as more than just a Parisian phenomenon showed itself primarily through the popularity of these works, written for the Paris opera, outside Paris and outside France, and through the international fame of the principal authors of the masterpieces of the genre: Meyerbeer, Auber, Halevy etc., and, of course, not least Scribe, the librettist. Equally important, as seen from an international perspective is the role of these works as vehicles for famous singers’ careers, supplementing the works of Italian bel canto in such star singers’ repertoires. Quite fast, however, the Parisian grand operas also profoundly influenced composers and librettists elsewhere – as Charlton’s example serves to illustrate. While for a long time practically ignored by musicologists at large, and effectively out of fashion since some time around the beginning of the 20th century, scholarly interest in the subject has been gaining momentum for several decades by now (more recently, some of these works also seem to return, gradually, to the repertoires of opera houses). In the already quite substantial and expanding musicological literature on grand opera, pride of place has so far been given to studies that qualify the genre as a quintessentially Parisian phenomenon, a product of the cultural and political climate of the July monarchy and of the unique processes of urbanization associated with ‘the capital of the nineteenth century’. But the contemporary importance and influence of Parisian grand operas on developments of local opera culture outside Paris and France can hardly be overestimated, or if it can, at least it has not been so yet. This conference therefore seeks to address questions pertaining to the ‘extra-Parisian’ histories of grand opera in the nineteenth century. We invite papers and panels dealing with: • Performance histories of Parisian grand operas outside Paris: at theatres worldwide, provincial as well as metropolitan. • Grand opera and adaptation studies (translation, transformation, scenography, local version of the score). • Grand opera in the repertoires of divas and divos. • Grand opera in a colonial and postcolonial perspective. • Reception of grand opera outside Paris. • Grand opera and the modernization of Europe. • Grand opera and urban studies. • Grand opera and societal change in the 19th century. • Other aspects relevant to the history of grand opera.
10 Dec 201412 Dec 2014


ConferenceNineteenth Century Grand Opera Outside Paris
LocationIKK, University of Copenhagen

ID: 122495534