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Opera and Video

Technology and Spectatorship

Héctor Pérez

The contributions in this volume reflect the efforts of musicology to understand a hybrid area with a fascinating evolution. They aim to address the relationship between opera and audiovisual technology from its origins to today by offering the results of a balanced critical and innovative approach. The reader interested in opera, aesthetics, narrative or transmediality will find concrete approaches devoted to an unexplored diversity of aspects with an impact on the narrative conditions in which we watch opera on screen. The variety of perspectives shows how original methodological approaches are able to design a new map of the main transmedial problems of opera in TV, DVD and even in phonography. The book offers not only isolated theoretical contributions but seeks a connection of them with significant practice oriented approaches coming from the fields of video direction and composition.

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HÉCTOR J. PÉREZIntroduction 7

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Introduction HÉCTOR J. PÉREZ Since the nineties, audiovisual technology has been a threat to the mystique surrounding live opera as an aesthetic experience that is unique to the genre. Many spectators have been watching opera on screen for years and, in most cases, this experience is not exclusive but may actually encourage attendance at live opera. In late 2011, with the economic crisis at its most destructive peak, very few theatres have managed to keep their budgets intact. In Spain, the country whence I write, there has been a considerable decline in public fund- ing for most of the country’s theatres, as in many other places. How- ever, the fragile economic context does not seem to have paralyzed certain technological practices that have become widespread over the last decade in opera theatres worldwide. Audiovisual productions of main titles have not decreased significantly. It seems that the crisis is not seriously affecting technology projects of major opera theatres. What reason lies behind this? I think we may well be looking at a second trajectory in the im- pact of digital technology on opera. The experiences that have trans- formed opera fans into digital consumers bring us closer to the para- digm of cultural convergence. A spectator used to watching opera on TV is now fast approaching the stage of watching it on a computer, perhaps on a big screen at home, or on a tablet PC equipped with ex- cellent headphones. Convergence has knocked on opera’s door, and the...

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